Construction 90 percent complete despite setbacks
Santa Barbara County has selected a new architectural firm for the Northern Branch Jail Project as litigation against the project’s original contractor develops.
Janette Pell, county General Services director, said Kitchell, a construction and engineering firm based in Phoenix, has taken over the project from now defunct Rosser International.
In June, Georgia-based Rosser International informed the county that it was going out of business and intended to stop all work on the project. On July 12, the county filed a 119-page lawsuit against Rosser, alleging breach of contract and professional negligence. Rosser had entered into a professional services agreement with the county in 2013 to provide architectural, engineering and professional design services for the Northern Branch Jail Project.
“Rosser and Rosser’s subconsultants failed to adequately perform numerous of its duties under the Agreement according to the applicable and agreed upon standard of care,” reads the lawsuit, which alleges Rosser’s actions caused a delay in obtaining approval from the State Fire Marshal, which delayed project bidding by 287 days.
Other alleged design defects include included incorrect mechanical smoke dampers and a faulty study submitted by one of Rosser’s subcontractors, which failed to comply with a mandatory supplemental water requirement.
“Essentially, Rosser’s design is incomplete and appears to have been performed to approximately 80% completion and then never fully completed. The design deficiencies have caused significant delays and potential multi-million dollar change orders, as well as other significant Project cost increases,” reads the lawsuit.
The lawsuit claims the project has experienced delays and cost increases, “including those associated with hiring another entity to assume Rosser’s duties.”
Damages are estimated to be in the millions.
Santa Barbara County Counsel Michael C. Ghizzoni said Rosser’s attorneys have not filed a response as of Monday. The usual response deadline for such a lawsuit is around 30 days.
When complete the Northern Branch Jail will be a 376-bed, Type-II jail facility, with all “necessary supporting infrastructure,” according to a sheriff’s office news release.
The facility will house male and female inmates and will be equipped with medium, high-security and isolation cells.
Additionally, 32 special use beds will be available for mental health and medical purposes, along with an outpatient medical clinic.