Baton Rouge-based Aptim Environmental and Infrastructure is now fighting lawsuits in two states, claiming the company failed to pay for work its subcontractors did rebuilding homes in the Virgin Islands damaged by 2017 Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
The first suit, filed in May 2019 in 19th Judicial District Court by Beaumont, Texas-based roofing company Allco, is currently on hold while Aptim appeals a November ruling that cleared the way for the suit to move forward.
The suit alleges Aptim failed to pay Allco under the terms of its contract, even though the federal government has paid Aptim for most of the work. Allco’s attorney has said his client is owed some $20 million.
The second suit was filed in December in Orange County, California, by an investor that owns the invoices of Lionsgate Disaster Relief, another Aptim subcontractor on the U.S. Virgin Islands rebuilding project.
Avalon Funding Corporation is an investor that bought Lionsgate’s receivables on the Aptim contract for 75 cents on the dollar in 2018. It, then, contracted with Aptim for payment on the invoices, once Lionsgate completed the work.
But though the work was completed by mid-2019, Aptim has yet to pay Avalon the $8.8 million it is owed, the lawsuit says.
Aptim has filed a motion to dismiss the suit. A hearing is scheduled in California in early April.
In the Baton Rouge case, meanwhile, Aptim has argued in court documents that Allco’s suit is premature, claiming Allco is subject to a mandatory arbitration clause in its contract. Last fall, 19th Judicial District Court Judge Chip Moore ruled there is no language in the contract requiring arbitration and that neither company had consented to binding arbitration.
Aptim has appealed that ruling to the First Circuit Court of Appeals and is awaiting a decision.
Aptim isn’t the only company under fire for failing to pay its subcontractors for hurricane-recovery work in the Caribbean. AECOM, which shares the disaster recovery contract with Aptim, has also been criticized by its subcontractors, though none has filed suit over the matter in local court. Aptim and AECOM have blamed the federal government for delays in paying them so they can pay their subs.