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Court date looms in Tiberti’s fight for $28.7M in unpaid work at Bishop Gorman High School

Tiberti Construction officials are headed to court next week in their fight against Bishop Gorman Development Corp. to collect $28.7 million an arbitrator awarded the company for unpaid work.

In a motion filed Dec. 29, Paul Hejmanowksi, a lawyer from Hejmanowski & McCrea, representing Tiberti, said the development corporation’s filings have not presented any reasons for a court to change the arbitrator’s decision regarding construction work done at Bishop Gorman High School.

“They file and they say the arbitrator didn’t know what he was doing,” Hejmanowski said. “Of course, he knew what he was doing, and our filing says here’s some of the evidence he looked at.”

The dispute is scheduled to go before a Clark County judge on Jan. 12.

Instead of paying Tiberti, Hejmanowski said that Bishop Gorman had continued to expand the school’s campus, spending roughly $30 million for additional land and an athletic facility. He estimated the cost of the land at the north end of campus at $20 million and the athletic facility at $9.5 million.

In court documents, Bishop Gorman officials argue certain donations were earmarked for specific projects, and Tiberti could not be paid with that money.

The development corporation serves as the nonprofit affiliated with the school and owns the land and buildings. Bishop Gorman wants a judge to overturn the award, arguing the arbitrator overstepped his bounds.

Tiberti Construction officials are hoping a judge will sign off on the arbitrator’s decision, giving them a legal mechanism to collect the remaining balance owed to Tiberti for construction of the high school, completed in 2009.

Tiberti said the company hasn’t been paid since April 2010 and brought the matter to arbitration in December 2015 as the statute of limitations approached.

The case was assigned in January to Philip Pro, who heard from both sides during the summer and made a ruling in Tiberti’s favor on Nov. 10.

“In the instant matter, Arbitrator Pro’s well-reasoned final award survives any of the challenges BGDC (Bishop Gorman Development Corp.) has put forth,” the Dec. 29 filing by Hejmanowski said.

After an initial statement, representatives from Bishop Gorman have declined comment while awaiting the court date, where they are challenging the decision to award Tiberti $28.7 million in construction costs, interest and attorneys fees.

“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, told the Review-Journal in December.

An addendum in the contract between the two parties said 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 received donations designated specifically for Tiberti’s work on the school, located at 5959 S. Hualapai Way.

Lawyers for the construction company said the addendum didn’t specify the donations had to be directly earmarked for Tiberti’s work. They pointed to spending by Bishop Gorman while Tiberti was waiting for payments.

The relationship between the school and the Tiberti family has a deep history. Several Tiberti family members graduated from the school, and one of the building’s conference rooms bears J.A. Tiberti’s name. Tiberti agreed to construct the high school at the base price, making no profit off the project, according to lawyers.

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

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