tampabay.com

Builder sued again over botched school project

A subcontractor wants its money for the work the company did on Homosassa Elementary.

By BARBARA BEHRENDT
Published February 27, 2007


INVERNESS - Builder R.E. Graham, whose botched construction job at Homosassa Elementary School forced the school district to completely revamp its construction process, is facing yet another lawsuit over the project.

In a lawsuit filed late last week, subcontractor Midstate Glass of Citrus County seeks to collect nearly $20,500 in unpaid costs for work done on the additions at Homosassa's media center and cafeteria in 2004.

According to the complaint, Midstate notified Graham of the unpaid amount and he did not object. But Graham moved and left no forwarding address and has not paid the balance of the subcontractor's bill.

The lawsuit is one of nine Graham has faced for failing to settle with his subcontractors and suppliers on the elementary school and a county project: the construction of the environmental health building and agricultural extension service office beside the county's Lecanto Government Building.

Graham walked off both projects, leaving them undone; he also walked off another project at Lecanto High School and a construction job building a manatee treatment pool at the Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park.

His construction business began to unravel in May 2004 when an anonymous tipster released photographs showing that the walls in the additions at Homosassa Elementary School were not properly reinforced with rebar and concrete.

Graham was required to make repairs, a process that dragged on for months.

In addition to the nine lawsuits, four of which have not yet been resolved, the School Board has also sued Graham's bonding company, Atlantic Mutual, for hundreds of thousands in costs the taxpayers had to pay to make the school right.

That case is still pending.

Graham's contracting company is currently listed as inactive, according to the secretary of state's corporate listings. His contractor's license is listed as active but delinquent, according to information from the state's Department of Professional Regulation.

Graham also faced a series of traffic and criminal charges.

According to the Florida Department of Corrections database, Graham is currently on probation.

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at 564-3621 or behrendt@sptimes.com.