Florida Keys News
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
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Islamorada OKs $135K settlement

PLANTATION KEY -- The village has agreed to pay a $135,000 settlement to the company that was originally contracted to build the Capital Bank Amphitheater in Founders Park.

"It was partially a financial decision not to go to trial because of the expense of the trial," explained Councilwoman Deb Gillis, who brokered the deal with Intercoastal. "We thought that the legal costs were going to be overwhelming and it just wasn't going to pay."

The settlement in the 2006 case brings to a close a portion of the village's longest-standing legal fight. However, the litigation isn't finished. Amphitheater architect Bob Brown still has an outstanding claim against Islamorada. Negotiations with him have been unsuccessful, officials said.

The village hired Intercoast-al to build the amphitheater in 2002. But the project was a troubled one, and the town halted worked on the structure in 2004 amid squabbling with Brown and Intercoastal. The architect and the contractor were also fighting with each other over whether Brown's design was workable.

The unfinished amphitheater sat dormant for 20 months before the nonprofit Islamorada Community Entertainment formed in order to finish the work. ICE held the first concert at the amphitheater in November 2006.

Intercoastal, however, didn't return to the job after the stoppage. At the time work was halted in 2004, the village had paid the company $306,000 of a $601,000 contract, the town says.

Intercoastal sued the village for breach of contract in late 2006. In turn, the village countersued the contractor. Intercoastal and the village also both sued Brown and his architectural firm, Brown Demandt. Not to be left out, Brown filed claims against the village and Intercoastal.

Under the settlement with Intercoastal, which the council unanimously approved on Oct. 10, Brown's former insurer, Great American, will pay Intercoastal $180,000, with the village paying out $135,000.

In exchange, Intercoastal has surrendered all claims against the village. Most of the other suits and countersuits related to the long-finished amphitheater project will also be dropped. But Brown's suit against the village will continue.

Village attorney Nina Boniske declined to comment on why the village agreed to accept damages against Intercoastal, citing the continuing litigation with Brown.

rsilk@keysnews.com

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