Lawsuits Continue to be Filed Over Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort Refurbishment Project

Last August, we reported on a lawsuit between Validus Construction Services and Disney amidst the refurbishment of Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort. Validus sued Disney Vacation Club Management for breach of contract and negligent misrepresentation, specifically citing a 15-year-old fire code violation and misogynistic comments against owner Nicole Wickens. After Validus discovered the fire code violation, Disney was unwilling to delay the refurbishment project despite the major issue.

Since Validus’ lawsuit last summer, seven subcontractors have filed suits against Validus and Disney has filed a countersuit.

Orlando Sentinel’s Gabrielle Russon reports that the subcontractors claim Validus owes them a total of $1.58 million in payments. These subcontractors handled drywall, painting, floor installation, and more.

One subcontractor, GTM painting, sued in September for $88,000. Construction attorney Kevin Kelly, representing GTM Painting, said, “Subcontractors live on small margins and cash-flow is critical to the life or death of a small company caught between competing giants such as Disney and Validus. It’s a shame an owner such as Disney and a major contractor fight it out while the subcontractors pay the real price in terms of loss of income.”

Most recently, Professional Construction USA filed a suit on February 11, claiming Validus owed them $509,000. They cited having to hire additional workers and redo work twice due to other trades failing inspections.

Disney filed a countersuit against Validus in August for more than $30,000. They cited Validus’ “multiple failures” including not paying subcontractors and failing to meet deadlines.

Disney and attorneys representing the other six subcontractors declined to comment to Orlando Sentinel. In the lawsuit, Disney said, “Because of Validus’s failure to perform, Disney was forced to hire another general contractor to fix and complete Validus’s scope of work.”

Tucker Byrd, Valdus’ attorney, called this a “domino effect” since Disney allegedly had not paid Validus, leading to the company not being able to pay its subcontractors. Validus was meant to make approximately $10 million on the project. “We lost money as it is,” Byrd said. “It bled the company dry, to be honest. This should have been a glorious project, a crowning achievement in Nicole Wickens’ career. Instead, it turned out to be a disaster that darn near broke the company.”

“This definitely is not for the faint-hearted, going against Disney, which has unlimited resources,” Byrd went on. “We’re definitely in this fight for the long haul. It’s the right thing to do.”

The lawsuit between Disney and Validus is expected to cost each side upwards of $500,000 in attorney fees, and $200,000 more if the lawsuit goes to trial.

The refurbishment of Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort began in April 2019 and was originally scheduled to finish in November 2020, but has been significantly delayed due to the issues cited above as well as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Source: Orlando Sentinel

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