Florida Judge: Dominican Republic Owes Two Miami Companies Millions

In a ruling handed down last week by a federal judge in Florida, Morgan & Morgan attorney Tucker H. Byrd helped recover more than $50 million owed by the government of the Dominican Republic to two Miami-based building companies.

Architectural Ingenieria Siglo XXI LLC (Architectural) and Sun Land & RGITC LLC, were awarded more than $21.5 million and more than $28.6 million, respectively, by U.S. District Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga. Both parties claimed that after performing contractually agreed-upon work on an irrigation project, a Dominican agency, unexpectedly and without justification, terminated their contract and then hired another company to complete the exact same job.

“We are extremely pleased with Judge Altanoga’s ruling,” Byrd said in a statement to Law360. “This validates our faith that American companies doing business abroad can obtain justice through the American judicial process, even against a substantial sovereign nation the size of the
Dominican Republic.”

The initial complaint details a “volatile experience” from the get-go once the companies’ $51 million bid was selected in 2000 by the Instituto Nacional de Recursos Hidraulicos, a Dominican agency responsible for building and running water projects, to develop irrigation for thousands of acres of land in the Province of Azua.

According to court documents, work on the project began in March 2004 after all parties agreed on a series of contracts establishing Sun Land & RGITC LLC as the equipment purchaser and Architectural as the general contractor. In August 2004, as further detailed by court papers, work was ordered to be suspended by the Dominican agency without any details as to why.

What came next, the companies say, was a series of on-again/off-again work patterns that both delayed completion and significantly increased the companies’ operating costs.

“For the next 30 months,” according to statements made by representatives of both companies in court, “[the agency] engaged in an intermittent ‘start and stop’ approach toward the project, repeatedly asking Architectural to stop work, then re-commence work without explanation.”

In addition to work on the Azua project for the next two years, Architectural took on additional labor on the Yaque del Sur Canal, which provides water for the irrigation system at the center of the suit, after it was damaged following Tropical Storms Noel and Olga, respectively.

After receiving payments from the Dominican agency totaling millions of U.S. dollars and tens of millions in pesos, the companies were informed in 2009 that all of their contracts were terminated.

“By hiring a new company to complete the project and breaching the [contract],” the companies’ representatives said, “the Dominican Republic rendered the agreement with Architectural to construct [the Azua project] impossible to execute and caused Architectural significant damages.”

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