Oscar Renda files $79 million suit

Oscar Renda Contracting, the Texas firm that in 2014 was awarded the contract for the $116 million North Project, and at one point had dozens of East Biloxi streets reduced to dirt, has filed a $79 million lawsuit against the city, alleging, among other things, that the engineering documents and plans for the construction were flawed.

City Attorney Peter Abide today formally notified the City Council of the suit, which was filed in July in Harrison County Circuit Court.

The lawsuit follows a request by Oscar Renda in May 2020 for $70 million, updated 10 months later using new methodology to $79 million, for “extra work,” Abide said.

The claim, the city said in a 31-page reply in March, was “based mainly on false logic and inaccurate analysis, non-supported calculations, and ignores contractual provisions in order to assert arguments that are incorrect.”

Mayor Gilich, after receiving the $79 million request, notified Oscar Renda that, regardless of the methodology of either request, “the city’s ultimate analysis is that ORC has not shown that it is entitled to additional time and compensation beyond what the city has already granted.”

The city, whose response to the lawsuit is due Aug. 20, has notified engineering firms on the project that their work has been called into question. The city also is currently withholding about $4.5 million in liquidated damages in the North Contract. The contract’s last council-approved deadline was Jan. 6, 2019. Oscar Renda has also been hit with hundreds of claims from motorists and homeowners, claiming damage to their vehicles or property during the construction.

When it was announced in 2014, the north project was billed as “the largest public works improvement project in the history of the city.”

The contract was originally scheduled for three years, with an original completion date 1,100 days later, in August 2017. It was referred to as the North Contract or North Project because the work was primarily in the areas north of the CSX railway from Forrest Avenue to the tip of Point Cadet. The project included replacement of water mains, sanitary sewer lines and storm drains as well as streets, curbs and sidewalks impacted by the construction work.
See the Oscar Renda lawsuit
See the city’s initial response
See the city’s follow-up response