TNP wins case, appeal against ex-contractor

WARREN — A judge upheld a decision to dismiss a case filed by woman who claimed her company was discriminated against because it wasn’t awarded a second or third contract to demolish homes.

However, the company had problems properly completing a round of demolitions it was awarded and damaged other properties, according to court documents.

Rebecca Bretz, owner of Triple Diamond Trucking and Excavating LLC in Hubbard, was awarded a contract in June 2016 to demolish about 20 homes for the Trumbull County Land Reutilization Corporation, the county land bank operated by Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership, a non-profit in Warren. The contract was for $153,500.

Soon after the company began carrying out the contract, “problems with its performance began to surface,” according to an affidavit submitted in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court by Shawn Carvin, the land bank program director.

Some of the properties the company worked on had to be regraded, a subcontractor wasn’t paid, sidewalks were damaged during demolitions that the company at first refused to repair, and a neighboring garage to one of the demolished houses also was damaged. In order to fix the neighbor’s garage, the land bank had to withhold $940 from the contract, Carvin states.

“Mr. Carvin said that in his experience, (Triple Diamond) was the ‘most difficult’ demolition contractor the land bank ever dealt with and the first and only contractor to cause the land bank to withhold a portion of the 10 percent retainage in order to fix a problem caused by a contractor,” according to the appeal opinion.

The company applied for at least two more demolition contracts, but was not awarded them.

Bretz, on behalf of Triple Diamond Trucking and Excavating, filed a civil complaint in November 2016 in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court, claiming the contracts weren’t awarded to the company because it is owned by a woman, even though other woman-owned companies have received contracts through TNP.

She also claimed TNP breached a contract when they didn’t award the second and third contracts to her, because she had the lowest bid. However, the land bank is not required to accept the lowest bid, and submitting the lowest bid does not constitute a contract, the appeals court ruling states.

Trumbull County Common Pleas Court Judge Andrew D. Logan granted a request by the land bank to dismiss the case in February. Bretz appealed the decision later that month.

Appeals court Judge Cynthia Westcott Rice upheld the dismissal, finding her claims to be without merit.

Bretz was seeking $25,000 or more from each of the defendants, plus punitive damages and other costs.