Madison is seeking outside legal counsel specialized in construction matters and litigation to represent the city’s interest in the lawsuit over the Judge Doyle Square development.
Beitler Real Estate Services, the Chicago-based developer, filed a complaint against the city over the major public-private construction project taking place across two blocks downtown. Beitler is seeking an injunction to prevent the city from taking any further action to build above ground on the block behind the Madison Municipal Building.
The City Council authorized spending up to $50,000 to obtain the firm of Stroud, Willink & Howard, LLC and Attorney H. Dale Peterson.
“Attorney H. Dale Peterson and Stroud, Willink & Howard, LLC have the required specialized knowledge and expertise on these specific types of issues having represented numerous parties in construction matters and litigation, including representing Findorff in its dispute over the Edgewater Hotel construction,” the resolution authorizing the funding states.
An arbitration panel ruled in 2016 that the Edgewater Hotel pay more than $14 million to the general contractor and an architectural firm for delays and cost overruns in constructing the hotel.
“Construction litigation is very complex,” City Attorney Michael May said. “In cases like this, you do need to bring in someone with a lot of expertise and experience and Dale Peterson is definitely that person.”
May said the city has more experience in administering construction contracts and carrying out construction than in construction litigation. The city obtains outside legal counsel about two times a year, May said.
“Sometimes it’s because it’s a case of such magnitude that it would overload our office and that was one of the things I’m worried about with the Beitler case,” May said. “It could become huge, and it’s really important.”
The legal fees will be authorized from the $50.4 million in existing funds appropriated for the public parking garage.
Beitler filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Illinois June 4 after the City Council approved an additional $11 million in public spending to construct retail space, private parking and a structural slab to support an apartment building.
Construction work on a new parking garage that will replace Government East on East Wilson Street — the city’s portion of the project — is underway and expected to be completed on time in April 2019.