San Francisco settles Mitchell Engineering lawsuits for $15.75 million 

Curtis Mitchell, owner of Mitchell Engineering, has settled a number of lawsuits he filed against The City after years of legal wrangling related to projects he was contracted to do by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. The City has agreed to pay $15.7 million to settle lawsuits related to five construction projects, which included two federal lawsuits.

But that’s not the end of the legal battle between Mitchell and The City. A settlement has yet been approved for a lawsuit related to the Fourth Street Bridge project. Mitchell has said this project was the root of all his problems with The City. When he started to publicly complain about the Fourth Street Bridge project, a component of the Third Street light-rail line, Mitchell said The City began making trouble for him on the other city jobs he was doing for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.

On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors approved in an 11-0 vote the $15.75 million settlement for Mitchell for the SFPUC related lawsuits.

“This is a settlement the [SFPUC] determined was a good resolution for the lawsuits for a lot of reasons,” deputy city attorney Ronald Flynn said. “Only one of these cases went to trial.” Mitchell was initially suing for in excess of $80 million.

A pending settlement agreement has been reached in the Fourth Street Bridge lawsuit, according to Flynn. He said that the pending settlement is proposed at $14.9 million, but it remains unclear how much The City would have to pay out. A portion of the settlement could be paid for with funds from the California Department of Transportation. The Board of Supervisors could be asked to approve the Fourth Street Bridge settlement by November.

The story behind this case follows from a San Francisco Examiner Feb. 19 article: “Work began in 2003 to renovate the Fourth Street Bridge, a drawbridge which spans the Mission Channel near AT&T Park and is a key component of the Third Street rail line. What was to be a $17 million project taking a year and a half ended up lasting three years and costing ‘$36 million and change,’ according to Curtis Mitchell, owner of Mitchell Engineering. The City has paid him $21 million but he is suing for an additional sum of more than $20 million, which he says he is owed for labor, materials and time. The lawsuit says The City is to blame since it provided faulty designs and analysis of the site’s conditions.”

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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