Trial date for engineering firm, City lawsuit set

  • Posted: Friday, October 5, 2012 12:07 a.m.
    UPDATED: Friday, October 5, 2012 7:49 a.m.

A court date has been set to begin the trial demanded by the City of Aiken in a lawsuit looking to recoup money from what it said is negligent work by an Augusta engineering firm.

The city filed the lawsuit against the Cranston Engineering Group on April 26 in an effort to address cost overruns of the Pawnee-Neilson connector project.

The city claims Cranston was negligent, breached its contract and failed to provide “good and proper workmanship quality.”

Cranston denied all of the city’s claims in its response to the complaint.

On June 3, 2013, the case is scheduled to be heard by U.S. District Court Judge Margaret J. Seymour. The date has been set, but the case is still in initial stages of discovery, according to Rob Braithwaite, who is representing the city in this matter.

Braithwaite would not speculate on the possible outcome of the case, rather saying that “the pleadings speak for themselves on this.”

In April 2005, the city contracted Cranston to design and engineer a roadway to connect Pawnee Drive and Neilson Street and included a detention pond.

However, the embankments of the pond began to fail in August 2009, Aiken claims in its complaint.

Subsequently, the city called in two engineering firms to evaluate Cranston’s work. According to the city, both firms agreed that the work did not meet safety protocols as the pond’s embankments were too steep.

The City of Aiken “had to incur significant expenses” to have the slopes of the pond reconfigured.

SRNS disability lawsuit

A 26-year employee at the Savannah River Site claims he was fired for taking too much medical leave, a violation of the Family Medical Leave Act.

In a lawsuit filed in federal court, Henry Lee Prather Jr., of Berkley County, claims he had seniority, a spotless record and had approved leave but was still fired from his position with Savannah River Nuclear Solutions.

SRNS, the SRS management and operations contractor, denies Prather’s allegations, filing documents that deny the plaintiff was a model employee and that his “termination was based on legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons and not the result of any discriminatory animus.”

Prather was selected to be terminated in February 2011 as part of SRNS’ “workforce restructuring/reduction-in-force.”

He claims, in a document filed Thursday, that he was senior to three other members of his team, so he should not have been fired. Rather, he said, high-ranking SRNS personnel were looking to get rid of employees who “abuse the system.”

Since 2002, Prather had undergone several surgeries and been absent for 10 months due to medical leave.

He had also returned from one only cleared for part-time work.

SRNS does not deny using “excessive absenteeism” to select employees for layoff or Prether’s seniority. But, it denies any wrongdoing in the firing process.

The case continues in U.S. District Court, but many of the filings will be unavailable to the public as both parties agreed to a confidentiality order Thursday.

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