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District Wins Judgment Dismissing Lawsuit by Contractor Seeking $40 Million

Thursday, January 9, 2014

District Wins Judgment Dismissing Lawsuit by Contractor Seeking $40 Million

CONTACT:  
Ted Gest
Public Information Officer
202-727-6283
ted.gest@dc.gov

WASHINGTON, D. C. – A judge dismissed a suit against a District of Columbia employee, represented by the Office of the D.C. Attorney General, who was sued for $40,000,000  for his alleged role in a purported scheme to terminate the contractor renovating the Ward Six Senior Wellness Center,  D.C. Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan said today.

D.C. Superior Court Judge Natalia M. Combs Greene issued the ruling Tuesday in a case filed by Vista Contracting, Inc., and its owner, Stjepan Sostaric, against a District contracting official, Jay Dolphin. The plaintiffs sought $10 million in compensatory damages and $30 million in punitive damages.

The District’s contract with Vista for the construction and renovation of the wellness center was terminated for default  in 2010 when the District’s contracting officer determined that it had failed to address a number of deficiencies adequately.  Vista and Sostaric sued Dolphin for tortious interference, claiming that Dolphin intentionally acted to prevent Vista’s performance on its contract with the District to cause Vista’s termination.

Judge Combs Greene granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant on Sostaric’s claim, ruling that Sostaric had no contract  with the District. The judge found that Vista produced no evidence that Dolphin interfered with Vista’s contract with the District. The judge also ruled that Vista “fails to provide evidence to support its claim that the District’s termination of the contract was for any reason other than the uncured deficiencies and unsatisfactory performance.”

Vista’s appeal of the termination was dismissed by the Contract Appeals Board last summer on a motion by the District.

Attorney General Nathan said, “We welcome the court’s dismissal of these meritless claims, which saved the District from potential liability for unwarranted damages in this project.”

Nathan praised Assistant Attorney General Carlos Sandoval for his outstanding job on the case, working with Section Chief Kimberly M. Johnson.