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Bishop Gorman plans to fight $28.7M judgment for unpaid costs in construction of school

An arbitrator has ruled Bishop Gorman Development Corp. must pay $28.7 million to a Las Vegas construction company for work done building the high school more than six years ago.

Tiberti Construction hasn’t been paid since April 2010, said Paul Hejmanowski, a lawyer from Hejmanowski & McCrea representing Tiberti. The development corporation serves as a nonprofit affiliated with Bishop Gorman High School and owns the land and buildings.

“We waited and waited and waited but Tiberti just can’t wait anymore. The statute of limitations was running against us,” Hejmanowski said. “We weren’t able to reach any accommodation with these guys.”

Although the arbitrator has ruled in Tiberti’s favor, Bishop Gorman officials said they do not accept the decision and have filed a motion to dismiss the award.

“In rendering his award, the arbitrator exceeded his power by making findings and determinations as to an entity that he openly acknowledged was not a party to the arbitration,” the motion reads.

In a statement Tuesday, officials reaffirmed their stance against the arbitrator’s decision.

“We intend to make our case in court and will have no further comment while this is an ongoing legal matter,” Deacon Aruna Silva, the development company’s executive director, said.

The dispute stemmed from an addendum in the contract between the two parties, stating that once Bishop Gorman had paid $40.5 million for the $75 million project, the construction would continue but Bishop Gorman could suspend payments until “receipt of funds.”

Bishop Gorman lawyers argued they were waiting to pay the remaining $22 million until they got donations designated specifically for work on the high school, located at 5959 S. Hualapai Way. Lawyers for the construction company said the addendum didn’t specify the donations had to be for the high school and pointed to other capital expenses made while Tiberti was waiting for payments.

“These legal matters involve the facilities’ owner, not the school,” said John Kilduff, president of Bishop Gorman High School.

Tiberti first filed a complaint in court in December 2015 as the six-year statute of limitations approached. Phillip Pro, the arbitrator, was assigned to the case in January and hearings were held during the summer.

Pro awarded Tiberti the unpaid amount, interest and attorney’s fee on Nov. 10. In late November, Tiberti’s lawyers made a motion to bring the arbitrator’s ruling to district court. The arbitrator’s award is scheduled to be finalized on Jan. 12.

The relationship between the school and the Tiberti family has a deep history. A number of Tiberti family members graduated from the school, and one of the building’s conference rooms bears J.A. Tiberti’s name.

The construction company agreed to build the campus at the base price, Hejmanowski said, taking no profit as the general manager for the project. At no time, Hejmanowski said, did Bishop Gorman representatives deny Tiberti was owed money.

“This is a disagreement among friends, but it’s a serious disagreement,” Hejmanowski said.

Contact Meghin Delaney at 702-383-0281 or mdelaney@reviewjournal.com. Follow @MeghinDelaney on Twitter.

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