Sacramento sues Teichert over water meter installation

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A Teichert Construction worker digs a hole in Land Park as part of a water main replacement project in November 2014.

Sacramento Bee File

The City of Sacramento filed a lawsuit Wednesday against Teichert Construction Company alleging fraudulent billing for its work installing water meters across the city.

“The city’s lawsuit alleges that Teichert used improper construction materials and methods, that its work did not meet contract specifications, and that Teichert charged the city for unused materials and labor. in its work,” according to a city press release Wednesday.

“It is unfortunate that Teichert has decided to cut corners and misrepresent his work to the city,” city attorney Susana Alcala Wood said in the statement. “By filing this lawsuit, the city is holding Teichert liable for breaching its contract and depriving the ratepayers of the materials and services they paid for.”

Sacramento-based Teichert Construction “strongly disputes” the city’s characterization of his work and says the city owes him more than $2 million, company spokesman Clark Hulbert said.

“The system, which was inspected by the city upon completion, is working as it should and – as the city itself has noted – ratepayers should not expect any problems with their service” , Hulbert said in an email. “We have offered to work with the city to address their concerns, but the city appears to be focused on unjustified pay rather than a constructive resolution. Teichert, a local family business founded in 1887, owes the city over $2 million and is fully prepared to defend the integrity of its work.

The issues won’t affect homeowners’ bills, but they will cause the city to deal with “excessive replacement or repair costs sooner than expected,” the city’s statement said.

The city hired Teichert and several other companies to install water meters in the city from 2017 to 2020, under the Accelerated Water Meter Program, to comply with a state law that requires all urban homes and businesses to measure water by 2025.

The city awarded the company a $62 million contract to install approximately 13,000 water meters in the neighborhoods of South Land Park, Tradewinds, North Sacramento, Meadowview, Golf Course Terrace and Lemon Hill, according to the city’s release. city.

In 2019, the city learned of improper installations at several residential properties, according to the city statement.

“The city has repeatedly asked Teichert to disclose any places where it deviates from contract specifications, but Teichert has declined to provide the information,” the city’s statement read. “The city eventually launched a thorough investigation into Teichert’s work, through which the city found a 90% rate of non-compliant work.”

The city says the company failed to install special equipment designed to hold the meters in place, filled the excavations with unapproved materials and used plastic pipes instead of copper pipes, according to the release. from the city.

The company disputes the claims of the city.

“The alleged (city) deviations from the contract were made with the full knowledge of city inspectors,” Hulbert said in the email. “In many cases, Teichert’s work has improved the quality of the water meter system. To address the city’s concerns about the overall longevity of the equipment, Teichert offered to extend warranties well beyond the year stated in its contracts with the city. The city did not accept this offer.

The 256-page lawsuit, filed Wednesday in Sacramento County Superior Court, alleges breach of contract, negligence, breach of warranties, violation of California false claims law, fraud and deceit, false negligent misrepresentation, execution of a performance bond, and violation of the state contractors license. laws.

In addition to Teichert, the lawsuit names Massachusetts-based Liberty Mutual Insurance Company as a defendant.

If residents have questions about their meters, they can call 3-1-1 or email [email protected], according to the city’s statement.

This story was originally published April 13, 2022 12:02 p.m.

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Theresa Clift covers Sacramento City Hall. Before joining The Bee in 2018, she covered local government in newspapers in Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin. She grew up in Michigan and graduated from Central Michigan University.

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