Niagara Gazette

Courts

February 6, 2014

Man O' Trees case against the Falls dismissed

A state supreme court justice has dismissed a lawsuit filed by the company originally hired to reconstruct Lewiston Road in the City of Niagara Falls. 

In a ruling issued Feb. 4, State Supreme Court Justice Frank Caruso dismissed all 112 causes of action brought against the city by Man O' Trees, the Buffalo-based contractor that started the Lewiston Road project in April 2009 and, years later, was relieved of its duties following a series of delays. 

In 2012, attorneys representing Man O' Trees' owner Dave Pfeiffer filed a 105-page complaint against the city, Mayor Paul Dyster, the Niagara Falls City Council, former city engineer Jeffrey Skurka and the city's consulting engineers, alleging fraud, defamation and breach of contract, among other claims. 

Chief among Pfeiffer's claims was an allegation that the city "misrepresented" the scope of work for the project, specifically the volume of radioactive material that needed to be removed on and around Lewiston Road. 

In his ruling, Caruso indicated that after analyzing causes of action two through 112 he "found none of them can survive" the city's motion to dismiss. On the remaining two causes — both related to a claim of breach of contract — Caruso determined that, since the city had previously taken legal action on similar matters between the two parties, they should be dismissed as well. 

In October 2012, the city, citing concerns about the progress being made on the project, selected Accadia Contracting to replace Man O' Trees and finish the job. The work was completed and the road reopened to traffic last August. 

The city still has a lawsuit of its own pending against Man O' Trees and the bonding company that backed the company's work on Lewiston Road. 

"The city is very pleased with the court's decision," Corporation Counsel Craig Johnson said. "The city's action against the contractor and its bonding company is pending and discovery is in process. Because this litigation is still pending, I will refrain from making any further comment." 

Greg Photiadis, the attorney for Man O' Trees, was unavailable for comment on Thursday. 

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