Dickey Electric Seeks $3.5M from Ultium Contractor

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – A local electrical contractor claims that Hunt Electric Corp. of Bloomington, Minn., owes it $3.5 million related to work it did during construction of the Ultium Cells battery-cell manufacturing plant in Lordstown.

Joe Dickey Electric Inc., North Lima, alleges that Hunt Electric is responsible for project delays and has refused to “adequately compensate” Dickey for change orders and other subcontracting work the company has performed at the Ultium Cells site, according to a lawsuit filed April 13 in the U.S. District Court Northern District of Ohio.

Dickey Electric is requesting the court award it more than $3.5 million in damages from Hunt.

The complaint claims that Hunt Electric is in breach of contract because the company failed to provide Dickey with designs and project schedules on a timely basis, denied the subcontractor access to work areas, and ordered Dickey to perform additional work that has caused delays and significant cost increases.

Dickey Electric’s lawsuit also claims that Hunt has received unjust enrichment and is in violation of the Ohio Prompt Pay Act.

According to the lawsuit, Dickey Electric “has sustained actual, direct, incidental, consequential and special damages as a result of Hunt’s breach.”  These damages include extended general conditions, idle equipment and labor costs, lost productivity costs, and delay and disruption claims that total more than $3.5 million, court papers say.

Hunt Electric has not yet filed a response. A call to the company seeking comment was not returned. 

A call to the law firm Dinsmore & Shohl LLP of Pittsburgh, representing Dickey Electric, was also not returned as of this posting.

Ultium Cells, a joint venture between General Motors Co. and LG Energy Solution, announced in 2019 that it would invest $2.3 billion and build its first electric-vehicle battery cell manufacturing plant in Lordstown.  The 2.8 million-square-foot-plant started production in August 2022.

In November 2020, Dickey Electric submitted a quote for $2,757,897 that involved electrical work related to fire alarm installation and testing at the plant, the complaint says. 

According to the court filing, Dickey Electric was subcontracted by Hunt to perform the work in a seven-month time frame and began work in March 2021.  However, “twenty-six months later, through no fault of its own, JDE [Joe Dickey Electric], remains on the project performing scope work and additional work as ordered and directed by Hunt,” court documents say.

This has led to $2,171,135.07 in additional work on top of the subcontracted quote, the complaint said.  Hunt has also ordered Dickey Electric to perform another $178,548.30 in field order work, the lawsuit notes. Although Dickey is doing the additional work, the company said it is unable to bill Hunt because the jobs have not been added to the subcontract.

As a result, Dickey Electric has been on the project nearly “four times longer than originally anticipated and the subcontract amount has been increased over 75%, leading to significant additional labor and overhead costs, loss of productivity, and extended general conditions,” the lawsuit said.

The complaint alleges that Dickey Electric’s work was hindered because Hunt failed to provide necessary designs on time, failed to properly sequence work, provided contract drawings with missing information, and assigned additional work unexpectedly. 

Although Dickey performed this work, “receipt of the payment for such work ranged anywhere from two months to 14 months,” court papers say.

Dickey Electric also claims that it has performed $535,180 in change order work but remains unpaid, according to the filing. Hunt is holding another $219,692.35 in retention from Dickey Electric, the complaint stated.

In March 2022, Dickey Electric presented Hunt with a 600-page submission that detailed additional costs totaling $2,527,020.67 the company had incurred on the project, court documents show. 

Hunt offered to pay $514,801, but Dickey Electric rejected the offer, according to the lawsuit. Hunt followed in September 2022 with a $700,000 offer to resolve the claim, but that too was turned down, the complaint notes.

As of March 2023, Dickey Electric’s claim totaled $3,135,445.35 because of Hunt’s inefficiencies and delays, the complaint said.  In addition, Dickey Electric claims it is entitled to attorney fees and 18% interest on all late and unpaid amounts.

“Hunt has acknowledged JDE has been impacted by out-of-sequence work and that it is entitled to compensation for extended general conditions, but disagrees to the amount of the claim,” according to the lawsuit.

Pictured at top: The Ultium Cells plant in Lordstown under construction in June 2021.

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