Everglades City scores win in Veolia lawsuit over $445K allegedly unpaid for water treatment plant work

By Marian Johns | May 9, 2019

Everglades City   qwesy qwesy [CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)]

FORT MYERS — Everglades City has been granted part of its motion to dismiss claims filed by a company that says the city owes it more than $445,000 for operating and maintaining a wastewater treatment plant in Collier County.

According to the April 30 U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida Fort Myers Division filing, the defendant, the city of Everglades City asked the court to dismiss two of three counts that are claimed in a lawsuit filed by the plaintiff Veolia Water North America South, LLC (VWNA) which include violations of the Florida Prompt Payment Act and unjust enrichment.

The lawsuit stems from a contract the city and VWNA entered into in November 2017 to have VWNA operate, maintain, repair, provide construction services and make any needed improvements to the city's ground water-membrane treatment plant and a wastewater treatment plant that had been flagged by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for various violations.  

VWNA alleges the city breached the automatically renewing contract nearly a year later by failing to pay more than $445,000 in billed invoices owed to VWNA for its services. 

The city argues that VWNA's claim of Florida Prompt Payment Act violations "does not create a cause of action for contract indebtedness."  The city also states VWNA should not receive any "statutory interest" because "VWNA did not allege that it followed the procedures of the Florida Prompt Payment Act."

Everglades City also argued that it has sovereign immunity from VWNA's claim of unjust enrichment and that VWNA "failed to state of a cause of action upon which relief can be granted."

VWNA argues that it submitted "timely" invoices to City "to ensure prompt payment under the Agreement.”

Senior U.S. District Judge John Steele stated "the existence of an express contract with the city, if valid as VWNA asserts, is the death knell for an unjust enrichment claim. Additionally, the contract itself does not waive the city’s sovereign immunity."

The court concluded that Everglades City's motion to dismiss VWNA's allegations of unjust enrichment is granted and the city's motion to dismiss the violation of Florida Prompt Payment Act claim with prejudice. 

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Florida Department of Environmental Protection U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Fort Myers Division

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