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Beyel Customer Pages Updated
May 23, 2013
As we have previously reported, several Beyel Brothers customers are part of the “race to the bottom” that enables Beyel Brothers and other crane companies to undercut area wage and benefit standards in Florida. We have posted the following updates for four Beyel customers; the rest will follow in the coming days.
- Tax Liens: All tax filings have been updated. Just over $196,000 in state and federal tax liens (including interest and penalties) have been issued against United Forming in the past few years. The most recent lien issued in May 2012 from the State of Mississippi totals over $80,000 and has not yet been released. To view this and other lien documents please visit the United Forming page.
- Pension/Benefits: The Pension/Benefits section has been updated with 2011 documents for the following plans:
- Employee Stock Ownership Plan: The 2011 Employee Stock Ownership Plan documents show that the number of participants in the plan has continued to drop. In 2008, the plan had 1,108 active participants and in 2011, that number was significantly lower at just 295 active participants.
- 401k Plan: Active participants in the 401k plan also dropped from 798 in 2010 to just 259 in 2011. In 2011 employer contributions also took a large drop falling from $345,214 overall in 2010 to just $4,804 in 2011. This means that United Forming only contributed $18.55 per employee to the 401k plan in 2011. For more information and full documents, visit the United Forming company page.
- Safety/OSHA Record: We have posted an updated list of workers compensation claims and OSHA inspections/violations. Since 2010 Encore has faced twelve new workers compensation claims, and has been the subject of three OSHA investigations which led to $1,755 in fines for six violations.
- Pension/Benefits: Updated 401k documents for the most recent plan years have been posted.
- Safety/OSHA Record: The OSHA violation summary has been updated with the most recent inspections.
- Litigation: We have updated the overall MCM case list, added one new case with full documents and a summary, and updated documents and summaries for several other now dismissed cases.
- Bank United v Munilla Construction Management LLC (dba MCM): Bank United sued MCM as Assignee of Vila & Son Landscaping and its subsidiaries after they claim MCM failed to fulfill a contract made between MCM and Vila. Bank United alleges that MCM owes them damages in the sum of $29,257.20 after they completed conditions of the contract but were not compensated. The case remains pending.
- The following MCM cases have now been dismissed, dismissal documents can be found on MCM’s page: Doors Acquisition v. Munilla Construction, Pita v. Munilla Construction, 777 International Mall v. Munilla Construction, and Arce v. Munilla Construction.
- Pension/Benefits: Updated documents from 2009-2011 have been added to the MCM page. MCM has a 401k plan, which had 157 participants with account balances at the end of 2011. MCM’s website claims the company currently has 556 employees; if this number is accurate it means that the majority of the employees (72%) are not active participants in the 401k plan.
- Safety/OSHA Record: Since November 2011, there have been 16 new workers compensation claims. We have also updated the list of OSHA inspections/violations.
- Litigation: The following cases have been updated:
- American Infrastructure v. Zachry Construction: American Infrastructure, a Pennsylvania general contractor, sued Zachry for allegedly infringing on its logo, and also for using the name Zachry American Infrastructure, which the plaintiff alleged would cause “consumer confusion.” A judgment was entered in favor of Zachry.
- Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Zachry Construction: The EEOC filed a suit against Zachry on behalf of a former employee, a female electrician helper, who alleged that she was fired in retaliation for reporting sex based discrimination. The parties filed a joint motion to enter into a consent decree which was approved.
- Knapp v. Zachry Construction: The plaintiff, a former duct installer for Zachry's project with Archer Daniels Midland in Decatur, IL, alleged that he and other older workers were terminated because of their age. Zachry denied the allegations and moved to dismiss the case and compel arbitration. The motion to compel arbitration was granted.
- Pension/Benefits: Updated 401k documents and information for the most recent plan years have been posted.
Litigation Roundup: Music City Temp Firm, Beyel
May 10, 2013
Trojan Labor Case Continues; Temp Firm Reaches Settlement with NLRB
As reported in the February 21, 2013 update below, employees of day labor staffing company Trojan Labor filed a federal lawsuit alleging the company violated overtime and prevailing wage laws, and did not adhere to federal health and safety standards on jobsites including Nashville’s Music City Center. Trojan Labor has since filed a Motion to Dismiss the case, but recent filings indicate that the parties have jointly moved for a settlement conference, which was approved by the court.
Also, The Tennessean newspaper has reported that Trojan Labor has agreed to a settlement with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) over charges that it conducted illegal surveillance of employees. Without admitting to wrongdoing, Trojan Labor agreed to notify its employees that it will not disrupt union organizing or illegally spy on its workers.
Trojan Labor workers accused Jeff Bradford of Nashville PR firm Bradford Group of spying on the employer’s behalf. Also according to the article, Trojan Labor employees claim that an unidentified woman infiltrated two of their meetings claiming to be the wife of a day laborer. If true, this represents a comically incompetent scheme, as the woman was spotted leaving the meeting in a Lexus SUV, while Trojan Labor employees are primarily “homeless and semi-homeless” according to previous court filings.
Beyel Litigation Updated
Our Beyel Brothers Litigation section has been updated, with new cases and settlements in previously reported cases:
Moise v. Beyel Brothers – In this previously reported case the plaintiff sued over injuries and damages allegedly suffered when a Beyel vehicle backed into his car just outside of Beyel's Palm Beach yard. The case was dismissed with prejudice.
McGrath v. Beyel Brothers – Also previously reported, in this case the plaintiff sued over injuries and damages allegedly suffered in a collision with a Beyel crane. This case was also dismissed with prejudice
Beyel v. Cury Group et al – In a new case, Beyel sued claiming it was not paid for a job setting trees at a condo in West Palm Beach. The Cury Group filed a motion to dismiss, while a co-defendant has not yet responded.
Alexandre v Beyel Brothers et al – In another new case, a husband and wife sue over injuries and damages allegedly suffered in a collision with a Beyel vehicle. Beyel filed an answer denying the complaint.
Please visit our Beyel Litigation page for complete information on these cases as well as summaries and filings from dozens of state and federal court cases involving Beyel Brothers.
OSHA File: Overloaded Beyel Crane Tips, Damaging Two Homes
May 8, 2013
Beyel Fined $7,000 for Repeat Safety Violation
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has finally completed an investigation and released the investigation file from a December 2011 accident involving a Beyel Brothers crane. The file lists the location of the accident as 228 Carina Drive, Jupiter, Florida, a site within the Jupiter Country Club. Carpenter Contractors America, a company working on the site, rented the Beyel crane.
According to the OSHA file, on December 30, 2011 a Beyel Brothers crane (a Grove 40 ton crane) was lifting plywood onto the roof of a single family home when it tipped over, damaging both the house under construction, and the roof and interior of the house next door. The files show that the crane operator had the boom extended 100 feet at 22 degrees over the rear of the crane while lifting a 3,500 lbs load of plywood that was going to be used for the roof. The crane was being operated in excess of the rated load capacity, causing the crane to tip rearwards. According to the files, the operator stated that the overload alarm was sounding at the time of the incident, and that he tried to boom up but the engine stalled and the crane tipped over.
As we have previously reported, Beyel Brothers had a similar accident occur on February 19, 2008 when a crane was overloaded by approximately 100 lbs, which caused the crane to tip over. For this incident, Beyel Brothers was initially given a fine of $3,500, which was later negotiated to $2,625. At the time of this 2008 accident Danny Beyel admitted to the Sun-Sentinel newspaper that “the crane was overloaded and collapsed from the strain," but characterized this as a "freak accident."
For the more recent accident, OSHA initially recommended a fine of $31,500 due to serious and repeat violations, but Beyel contested the findings. On February 8, 2013, after a settlement the violation was reclassified as other than serious and the fine was reduced to $7,000. The documents show that Beyel claims to have addressed the problems though re-training and improved safety processes.
For more information on this accident, as well as information on all past OSHA inspections please visit the Beyel Safety page.
Prophet Equity/Stelling Legal Dispute Continues to Spread
April 16, 2013
As reported in the March 19 and March 28 updates below, Allegiance Crane owner Prophet Equity is involved in a legal dispute with co-founder George Stelling that has spread from private arbitration proceedings into six lawsuits in five Texas counties. Now the matter has extended into the Connecticut court system, where Prophet Equity seeks to issue subpoenas for the deposition of $1.7 billion private equity firm Newbury Partners and a Managing Director of the firm.
Prophet Equity filed a Petition in Dallas County, Texas, for a court order requesting that a Connecticut court order the subpoenas. In the Petition, Prophet Equity claims that “the purpose of the discovery sought by the subpoenas is to gain information regarding the former officer's communications with third parties” – specifically, Prophet Equity wants to investigate whether terminated co-founder Stelling may have shared “confidential trade-secret information” with Newbury Partners and Managing Director Warren Symon.
See our Prophet Equity page for more details and case filings in the Prophet Equity – George Stelling dispute.
OSHA Releases Beyel Fall Hazard File
April 11, 2013
We have obtained an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) investigation file from the November 11, 2012 inspection of a Beyel Brothers job site. The file lists the location of the inspection as 3800 NW 115th Ave Doral Florida 33178, which is a building on Miami Dade College’s West campus.
According to the OSHA file, OSHA inspectors noticed a fall hazard concerning one of Beyel’s workers. The Beyel worker was in an aerial lift 16 feet above ground level engaging in rigging and cutting work. While conducting this work the worker was standing not on the floor of the basket as required, but rather on the mid-rail. The OSHA inspector took this photo of the worker. OSHA redacted the worker’s face, but his arm is visible to the left of the redaction box:
The inspector also submitted this photo, making it obvious that the worker is not standing on the basket floor:
Beyel Brothers was initially fined $2,100 for this serious violation but the penalty was reduced to $1,260 after a settlement agreement. Beyel paid the fine on February 26, 2013.
For more information on Beyel’s safety and OSHA history visit the Beyel Safety page.
Investigation Continues Into Fatal Birmingham Airport Accident
April 10, 2013
Brasfield & Gorrie Installed Flight Status Sign that Fell on Family, Killing a 10-Year-Old Boy
On March 22, 2013, a family of five on a layover at newly renovated Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport was checking their flight status when the 300-pound electronic display sign fell onto the mother and three children, killing 10-year-old Luke Bresette. The family was returning home after a spring break trip to Florida.
In the weeks since the accident, it has been unclear who actually installed the sign that fell. But yesterday, general contractor Brasfield & Gorrie issued a statement acknowledging that the “unit that fell forward on March 22 was assembled and installed by Brasfield & Gorrie after it had been manufactured and sent to the airport.”
The Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport Terminal Modernization Project is a $201.6 million, two-phase project that began in the summer of 2011. The project’s joint management team is Brasfield & Gorrie-Bloc Global Services Group. Phase one of the project ended when the new main terminal opened on March 13, just nine days before the tragic accident.
Birmingham law firm Smith Spires & Peddy, representing Brasfield & Gorrie-Bloc Global, also issued a letter yesterday with more details on the ongoing investigation.
Brasfield & Gorrie is a regular customer of crane rental companies that do not meet area standards for wages and benefits, including Beyel Brothers and CraneWorks. CraneWorks performed work on the airport modernization project (unrelated to the interior work done in the terminal).
Allegiance Crane Follies in Miami Gardens
April 5, 2013
A series of misadventures involving an Allegiance Crane, and several Allegiance employees, took place last week during construction of the new Miami Gardens Municipal Complex.
According to our interviews with workers and witnesses, and our own observations, the following series of events occurred at the jobsite on Thursday, March 28, 2013:
- An Allegiance tower crane operator arrived over an hour late for his shift. He likely did not allow the crane to warm up properly, and as he began operating the crane he noticed a problem with the hydraulic pump.
- The Allegiance operator left the cab and headed to the back of the counter jib to check on the motor, neglecting to set the swing brake.
- With the crane still in weathervane, the jib swung and the crane cable hit power lines located just outside the jobsite (see the photo below – the crane cable hit the power lines left of the semi, which was not parked in that spot at the time of the incident):
- The power lines did not collapse, but the incident did cut power to a small area, including the strip plaza located to the left of the power lines in the photo above.
- Florida Power & Light was able to restore power within a couple of hours, but several businesses were affected, including the day care center below. Our personnel arrived on the scene as day care workers stood outside the darkened center:
- Employees of this credit union in the plaza told us that even after power was restored, their computer system was down most of the day:
- An Allegiance crew arrived to change the crane cable, as required by OSHA regulations:
- But apparently the crew did not properly attach the cable grips, and the new cable and the grip came crashing down onto the
- Allegiance crew’s boom truck:
Fortunately no one was injured in the incidents.
The Miami Gardens Municipal Complex is a $50 million project, which is scheduled to be completed later this year. Skanska USA is the general contractor.
Acquisitions Update: Hunter Merchant Buys Mullins Crane
April 4, 2013
Hunter Merchant has continued its recent expansion with the acquisition of the assets of Mullins Crane. In combination with its recent acquisition of Allied Crane, Hunter Merchant now has access to new yards and equipment in Naples, Ft. Pierce and two locations in Ft. Myers. The company is currently in the process of consolidating its new operations on the west coast of Florida.
Hunter Merchant is owned by Steve and Jason Retterath, who co-owned General Crane with current Allegiance Crane President Jim Robertson. Retterath and Robertson oversaw an aggressive expansion plan at General Crane – including buying $100 million in new cranes in a two-year period and new facilities in Las Vegas, Houston and Atlanta – which collapsed into bankruptcy following a wave of creditor lawsuits in 2008 and 2009.
The former partners have now gone their separate ways, but they have each returned to a strategy of expanding their operations, although on a smaller scale. In addition to Hunter Merchant’s acquisitions of Allied and Mullins, Allegiance has acquired USA Mobile Crane in Texas and Action Crane in Florida.
Of the five acquisition rumors we reported in the February 27, 2013 update below, three have now been confirmed. We are continuing to follow up on information we have received on Auburn Crane (potential target of TNT/Southway) and Lakeland Crane (another potential Hunter Merchant target).
Ross Perot Co. Now Part of Prophet Equity/Stelling Disputes
March 28, 2013
As we reported March 19, Allegiance Crane owner Prophet Equity is involved in a legal dispute with terminated co-founder George Stelling. The dispute has spread from private proceedings before the American Arbitration Association to several Texas courts, as several parties fight over subpoenas in five public court cases.
Another case can now be added to this list, involving the investment company founded by Texas billionaire and former presidential candidate Ross Perot:
Altec Lansing, Prophet Equity v. Perot Investments, Collin County TX – The plaintiffs filed a Petition to enforce a subpoena issued by the Arbitration Association. According to the Petition, Perot Investments partially complied with a subpoena, but “objected to producing documents referring to Plaintiffs and documents reflecting communications with Perot investments and one of Plaintiffs' former officer (sic).” The Petition claims that the “information sought is highly critical to Plaintiffs' claims of trade secret misappropriation.”
In a Response, Perot Investments claims that any responsive documents to the subpoena are held by Petrus Asset Management Company, a related private investment advisor which entered into a consulting services agreement with Stelling’s Auxilium Capital Partners. The defendant objects to the subpoena in part on the grounds that it is burdensome, given the 27 non-disclosure agreements between Petrus and Auxilium. Perot Investments further claims that it has tried to work with Prophet Equity on a reasonable compromise to the discovery dispute, and attaches several letters and emails as exhibits to the filing (these begin with Exhibit 3 on page 25).
Also attached to the Response is an Affidavit by Perot and Petrus Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel David Radunsky (page 30), who attaches the consulting agreement between Petrus and Auxilium. Further attachments to the Affidavit include several letters between Radunsky and Prophet Equity’s lawyers Fish & Richardson. In one letter, the firms warns Radunsky that “Prophet Equity has recently discovered that Mr. Stelling and others associated with him appear to be using, or have used, Prophet’s confidential information in connection with work that Mr. Stelling and his associates are performing, or have performed, for the Perot family and/or one or more of its affiliated business entities,” and that Perot must preserve records related to the work performed by Stelling.
The docket sheet from the case indicates that the parties have met in judge’s chambers and are preparing an Order related to the Petition, but the Order was not in the case file at the court as of yesterday.
Any further developments will be covered on this page and our Prophet Equity page.
New Details on Allegiance Power Line Accident
March 27, 2013
We have obtained newly released reports from the Florida Highway Patrol on the accident involving an Allegiance Crane & Equipment driver who took out power lines on I-595 in Broward County, Florida.
According to these reports, an Allegiance crane being driven with the boom extended knocked down power lines, which fell on several vehicles stopped at the intersection of I-595, SR 84 and Hiatus Road in Davie, Florida. The Allegiance driver suffered “non-incapacitating” injuries and was transported to Cleveland Clinic Florida – Westin Hospital.
The following three reports were released by the Highway Patrol (we have redacted some personal information regarding the various drivers):
Allegiance Crane Traffic Crash Report – the Allegiance crane was travelling in a construction zone, parallel to the westbound travel lanes of I-595. Property damage to the Florida Power & Light-owned power lines was estimated at $50,000. The Allegiance driver was charged with careless driving.
Hiatus Road Vehicles – three vehicles on Hiatus Road were struck by the power lines: a 2010 Cadillac Escalade ($4,000 damage), a 2003 Toyota Highlander ($1,000 damage) and a 1993 Pontiac Bonneville ($3,000 damage). All of the vehicles were functional after the accident, and no injuries were reported.
SR 84 Vehicles – another vehicle at the intersection, a 2007 Chevy Uplander, suffered $1,000 in damage. The driver and her passenger were unharmed, but the unlucky driver was cited for “unknowingly operating vehicle while driver’s license suspended, cancelled, revoked or disqualified.”
Online records indicate that the Allegiance Crane employee faces a hearing in Broward County Circuit Court next month on the charge of careless driving.
See our original report on this accident in the January 2, 2013 update below, with links to news articles on the traffic headaches it caused for South Florida drivers.
Acquisitions Update: Barnhart Buys Steel City
March 26, 2013
Another acquisition in the Southern crane industry was confirmed yesterday, as Barnhart Crane announced the purchase of Steel City Crane of Alabama.
Barnhart is one of the few truly national crane rental companies, with locations from Upstate New York to California, primarily in the South and Midwest. Steel City Crane has operated throughout Alabama and the Gulf Coast for over 50 years.
Of the five acquisition rumors we reported on February 27, 2013, two have now been confirmed (Hunter Merchant has acquired Allied Crane). Other information has come in concerning the potential acquisitions of Auburn Crane, Mullins Crane and Lakeland Crane, although none of these rumors have yet been confirmed. We will continue to report on any developments.
Prophet Equity Co-Founder Stelling Suing Over Termination
March 19, 2013
George Stelling, a co-founder of Allegiance Crane owner Prophet Equity, is pursuing a claim against the venture capital firm over his termination, while Prophet Equity has accused Stelling of a variety of misdeeds. The dispute is being arbitrated before the American Arbitration Association, whose proceedings are private. But discovery disputes in the arbitration have spilled out into several Texas courts, shining some light on the situation.
Former Bain & Company employees Ross Gatlin and George Stelling established Prophet Equity in 2007, raising close to $300 million and acquiring a portfolio of companies over the next few years. According to several court filings, Stelling’s case involves “his termination and removal in October 2011 from various entities in which he is a 30% partner or member.” Stelling subsequently founded another firm, Auxilium Capital Partners.
In five cases filed in four Texas counties, Stelling has moved to enforce subpoenas issued by the Arbitration Association, or the subjects of discovery requests by Prophet Equity have filed for protective orders. Each case includes a copy of the subpoenas, which demand a variety of records relating to Ross Gatlin, Prophet Equity and its law firm Jackson Walker, and other venture capital firms including Insight Equity, 10x Capital, Cerberus Capital and Carlyle Management Group.
There are some variations in the Stelling subpoenas, but generally they demand records covering several issues, such as Prophet Equity portfolio companies including Allegiance Crane (and the acquisition of USA Mobile Crane), with a particular focus on the acquisition of Altec Lansing (Prophet Equity sold the audio products company in 2012).
Some of Stelling subpoenas also make reference to any “accounting mischaracterization by Prophet Management,” “any claims of negligence or wrong doing by Gatlin or Stelling” and “documents, including, but not limited to, correspondence or emails, referring to or regarding Gatlin's reputation and behavior.”
According to the Noonan and Auxilium cases below, Prophet Equity has in turn sued Stelling “alleging breach of fiduciary duty, fraudulent inducement, fraudulent concealment, negligent misrepresentation, misappropriation of trade secrets, negligence, defamation, conversion, money had and received, unjust enrichment, and declaratory judgment related to Stelling's alleged mismanagement of” Altec Lansing.
The five cases are as follows:
Stelling v. Wilhelmina J. Harvey, Dallas County TX – Stelling filed a Motion to Compel Wilhelmina Harvey to comply with a subpoena. Mrs. Harvey is the widow of prominent Dallas oilman Michael Harvey, and she controls several investment and oil-related entities. It is not disclosed whether Mrs. Harvey is an investor in a Prophet Equity fund or has some other relationship to the parties involved. She has not yet filed a response to the motion.
Stelling v. BDO USA, Travis County TX – Stelling also filed a Motion to Compel against BDO, the accounting and consulting firm. BDO has not yet filed a response to the motion.
Stelling v. DLH Family Enterprises, Tom Green County TX – Another Motion to Compel was filed against DLH, which is controlled by the Hirschfeld family of San Angelo, TX. The Hirschfelds own Hirschfeld Steel among other entities. According to a 2009 initial public offering, Ross Gatlin was a director or a director nominee of multiple Hirschfeld companies (the registration statement was withdrawn in 2010). In a Response to the Motion, DLH objects to the subpoena on several grounds, including an alleged mix up of two members of the Hirschfeld family.
Noonan v. Altec Lansing, Prophet Equity et al, Denton County TX – Pat Noonan, Managing Director at Stelling’s Auxilium Capital Partners, filed a Motion for a Protective Order against a Prophet Equity subpoena issued by the Arbitration Association. Noonan agrees to produce certain documents requested but objects to others on various grounds. The defendants have not yet filed a response.
Auxilium v. Altec Lansing, Prophet Equity et al, Denton County TX – Auxilium Capital also filed a Motion for a Protective Order, which is nearly identical to Noonan’s motion. The defendants have not yet filed a response.
Any further developments in these cases will be posted here and on our Prophet Equity page.
Sun Crane has Towers up in Downtown Austin
March 11, 2013
As we reported Friday, former Lewis Equipment owner Kyle Lewis has resurfaced in the US crane industry, with a company called Sun Crane & Hoist. Sources in Texas have informed us that Sun Crane currently has three tower cranes working in downtown Austin. The photos below were taken over the weekend.
These cranes are working on the $300 million JW Marriott Austin project, which according to the Austin Statesman will be the largest hotel in Austin, and the largest JW Marriott in the US. The general contractor on the project is Hunt-Hardin, a joint venture between Hunt Construction Group of Scottsdale, AZ and Atlanta-based Hardin Construction Company.
The Austin Chronicle recently reported that labor representatives have claimed that JW Marriott Austin developer White Lodging Inc. is violating the wage provisions the company agreed to uphold in exchange for $3.8 million in development fee waivers from the city.
Also, Australian readers report that Kyle Lewis’ Southern Star Crane & Hoist is alive and well “Down Under." One source claims that some of the photos featured on Sun Crane’s Portfolio webpage are of the $1.5 billion Queensland Children's Hospital at South Brisbane project. The massive hospital project has also seen its share of controversy, with delays resulting from a 600-worker strike and a key subcontractor going “belly up,” according to the Brisbane Times.
He’s Ba-a-a-a-ck…Kyle Lewis and Sun Crane
March 8, 2013
For the past couple of years, a company called Sun Crane & Hoist has been registering to do business in several states: Texas, Nevada, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Florida, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas and others. These corporate registrations usually only listed a Christopher Anderson as a named officer of the company, and gave a PO Box in Las Vegas as the contact address – see the example below from Sun Crane’s Florida incorporation papers:
Sun Crane has a bare bones website, much of it “under construction.” The About Sun Crane section discloses very little, the Contact page is just an email form and a Portfolio page appears to contain stock photos.
But recent filings in California and Louisiana disclose the involvement of Kyle Lewis, former owner of Lewis Equipment, in Sun Crane and Hoist.
In California, the state Contractor License Board lists Kristopher Kyle Lewis as the “Responsible Managing Employee” for Sun Crane, while Christopher Anderson is the President and CEO. Lewis and Anderson are also listed on the Louisiana contractor’s license, and both states give Sun Crane’s address as 2214 FM 1187, Mansfield, TX, about 20 miles southwest of Lewis Equipment’s old headquarters in Grand Prairie, TX.
We have found that Kyle Lewis and Christopher Anderson did business together at least once before, when they were partners (with another individual) in a Nevada corporation, AHL LLC.
Further, Sun Crane’s website provides a link on its Services page to www.azakkteck.com, which is under construction. That website appears to be connected to a company with a catchy name, Azakk Crane & Hoist Technologies, which according to the Texas Secretary of State is controlled by Keith T. Lewis of Arlington, TX – Kyle’s brother.
And finally, California corporate records indicate that Sun Crane and Hoist originally incorporated under the name Hardrock Erectors, later changing to Sun Erectors before taking the name Sun Crane and Hoist. Lewis Equipment’s headquarters was on Hardrock Road in Grand Prairie, and Kyle Lewis owned companies named Hardrock Road Properties and Hardrock Machine Shop.
Kyle Lewis was the owner of Lewis Equipment, a once high flying company that operated throughout the US, Australia and New Zealand. Lewis Equipment filed for bankruptcy in late 2009, and Kyle Lewis was removed as the head of the company by the bankruptcy court. Lewis battled creditors and the bankruptcy court throughout the case, which has still not wrapped up. In an update posted October 13, 2011 we calculated that Kyle Lewis had $11 million in personal judgments hanging over him, and an April 27, 2011 update covered the foreclosure of his Texas mansion. There are numerous other items on Kyle Lewis and Lewis Equipment in our 2011 and 2010 Archives.
Any further information on Kyle Lewis’ activities will be reported on this site.
Acquisitions Update – Hunter Merchant Acquires Allied Crane
March 4, 2013
Since our “Acquisitions and Rumors” update last week, numerous tips have come in, although so far we can only 100% confirm one acquisition – that of Allied Crane by Hunter Merchant.
Hunter Merchant, owned by Steve and Jason Retterath, has expanded to the West Coast of Florida by acquiring Allied, also known as Allied/Mak (the two related companies, Allied Crane and Mak Crane, were merged together in 2009). Hunter Merchant is moving equipment and personnel into Allied’s yards in Naples and Ft. Myers.
Among the many tips we received was this business card, showing that Bruce Heaton, formerly listed as President and a Director of Allied Crane, is now a Hunter Merchant employee:
As Hunter Merchant moves to undercut wages and benefits for crane operators in a new part of Florida, we will increase and expand our coverage of Hunter Merchant. Look for a full profile and history of the company – and the Retteraths – coming soon.
In the meantime, please keep the tips coming to email@example.com.
Allegiance Files Lawsuit against Yacht Transport Company
February 28, 201
Over the last year or so Allegiance Crane & Equipment has been promoting its work with yacht moving companies on its Facebook page. Photo albums containing pictures of yacht lifts, along with posts on Allegiance’s Facebook wall have brought attention to the projects. One of these posts, depicted below, points out the company’s celebrity clientele. According to Allegiance, the company lifted a yacht owned by golfer Arnold Palmer. Allegiance often does tandem yacht lifts with Beyel Brothers, which also posted a picture of the Arnold Palmer yacht on its Facebook page.
It seems that Allegiance’s relationships with one prominent yacht transport company has turned sour. Allegiance has filed a lawsuit against Kevin Cummings dba Yacht Path Marine Group. On its website, Yacht Path describes itself as “a full-service concierge, ready to meet your needs at any time and in any ocean.” It claims to have moved over 300 yachts from one ocean to another in the last year. Kevin Cummings, the man listed as the defendant in the case, is the Director of Operations at Yacht Path.
In the complaint, Allegiance alleges that Yacht Path owes Allegiance $223,849.20. Allegiance claims that it performed all the conditions required by the contract and that Yacht Path in return failed to completely pay for the work.
The contract and payment invoices between Allegiance and Yacht Path attached to the complaint contain the following details:
- The yacht lift job location was at Port Everglades, Berths 30 & 31 in Fort Lauderdale, FL.
- The cargo ships mentioned in contract are “Thor Bronco”, “Berlin Trader”, “Dubhe”, ”BBC England” and “PACC Athena”.
- The leased items on the invoice are listed as follows (prices are the final fees and include mobilization, demobilization, and any overtime when applicable, according to the complaint):
- Liebherr LTM1120 500T (9/18): $20,600
- Beyel 300T (9/26): $17,800
- Leveling Sand & Trash Cans (10/4): $337.10
- Liebherr LTM 1400 & Liebherr LR 1300 (10/3-10/7): $28,912.50
- Flinterstar, Cargo Ship, (10/20): $8,400
- Liebherr LR 1300 (11/1-11/21): $54,500
- Liebherr LTM 1400 (11/22): $11,000
Allegiance’s invoice shows that Yacht Path originally owed Allegiance $328,849.20, but made a total of $95,000 in payments, the last of which was made on 5/17/2012. Allegiance claims that Yacht Path still owes $233,849.20 in payments, the same number requested in the complaint documents.
Yacht Path has not yet filed an answer to Allegiances allegations. We will continue to follow this case, and report on any developments. See our Allegiance Public Records page for more details on this case, and other cases involving Allegiance Crane.
Acquisitions and Rumors
February 27, 2013
Early in 2013 Texas company TNT Crane & Rigging announced the acquisition of Southway Crane & Rigging, a Georgia crane rental company. As we have recently reported, Allegiance Crane & Equipment has acquired Action Crane of Ft. Lauderdale, FL (see January 4, 2013) and south Texas company USA Mobile Crane (see September 12, 2012).
Both TNT and Allegiance are backed by big money – TNT by Odyssey Investment Partners, a New York private equity firm with over $2 billion in investments, and Allegiance by Prophet Equity, a Dallas firm with over $300 million in investments.
With the flow of private equity money into the crane rental industry, and a rebounding economy, rumors of more acquisitions swirl nonstop.
Since the beginning of 2013 we have heard that each of the companies listed below is a possible acquisition target. We have been unable to confirm via traditional public records sources that any of these companies have been, or will be, acquired. But rumors have been repeated often enough, by enough sources, that they are worth reporting here – as rumors:
Auburn Crane – this is a small company – essentially a father and son operation – and does not even have a website. But its location in east central Alabama would provide access to Birmingham, Montgomery, Mobile and the Florida Panhandle. TNT/Southway is rumored to have an interest in Auburn Crane.
Steel City Crane – Steel City has provided crane rental services throughout Alabama and the Gulf Coast for over 50 years. The company is rumored to be a target of Barnhart Crane & Rigging, the national company headquartered in Memphis.
Allied Crane – Allied, also known as Allied/MAK, has yards on the west coast of Florida. Allied is rumored to be a target of Steve and Jason Retterath’s Hunter Merchant, which currently operates in South Florida. At the end of 2012 Allied reported the termination of its employee 401k plan to the US Department of Labor.
Lakeland Crane – we have been hearing rumors of the Retterath’s interest in Lakeland since 2011, when they incorporated a company called PBT Lakeland (see the September 8, 2011 update in our 2011 Archives). Lakeland Crane’s yard would provide a strategic location, roughly halfway between Orlando and Tampa.
In what could be a development related to these rumors, on December 21, 2012, Hunter Merchant owner Steve Retterath incorporated three new entities in Florida with very cryptic names - GHIG-BHAB LLC, BUAHYL LLC, and JA Family General I Inc. It is unclear whether these entities have been set up as holding companies for acquisitions, or if they serve some other purpose.
We will continue to monitor all of these companies and sort through the rumors. In the meantime, if you have any information to share, please feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org. All communications will be kept strictly confidential.
Music City Workers File Class Action Against Day Labor Firm
February 21, 2013
Employees of Trojan Labor of Nashville have filed a federal Fair Labor Standards Act suit against the temp and day labor staffing company, alleging the company violated overtime and prevailing wage laws, and did not adhere to federal health and safety standards.
According to the complaint filed in US District Court in Nashville, Trojan, which “recruits its employees from the most marginalized and exploited demographic groups in the area, in particular the homeless and semi-homeless,” forced employees to arrive at Trojan’s office at times ranging from 4:00 AM to 6:00 AM daily, and then pay a “carpool fee” for transportation to jobsites. Employees were allegedly only compensated for their time on the jobsite, which usually began at 7:00 AM. Employees were allegedly given various administrative tasks to complete during this wait time.
The plaintiffs further allege they were charged fees for vests, gloves, safety glasses and hard hats, with specialized equipment such as respirators leading to a $25 paycheck deduction. OSHA regulations require employers to provide most items of personal protective equipment at no cost to the employee.
The complaint alleges that with the uncompensated wait time, and the various improper paycheck deductions, Trojan Labor violated federal overtime pay laws. Further, because much of the plaintiffs’ work was done on the publicly-funded Music City Center, Trojan Labor violated the Tennessee Prevailing Wage Act.
Trojan Labor has not yet responded to the complaint. According to an article in the Tennessean newspaper, Trojan Labor owner Jolene Dressel called the case “a nuisance lawsuit that is utterly without merit.”
Allegiance Port-a-John Lawsuit Update
February 4, 2013
As reported in previous updates, Allegiance Crane & Equipment was involved in an accident at the Bellini Williams Island construction site in Aventura, FL in April 2012. An Allegiance crane was lowering "Port-a-Johns" from the upper floors of the structure when one broke loose and struck a worker on the ground.
The injured worker, a leased employee of Commercial Forming Corp. South, filed a lawsuit against Allegiance, the crane operator and project owner Bellini WI LLC. Since we last updated this lawsuit (see October 16, 2012 update below), there have been several new developments:
- Bellini WI LLC filed an answer essentially denying all substantive charges in the complaint;
- Allegiance filed an answer to the amended complaint and sued Coastal Masonry, which rented the crane and operator from Allegiance;
- Coastal Masonry countersued Allegiance and Commercial Forming.
Attached to Coastal Masonry’s filing is the Tower Crane Lease Agreement between Coastal and Allegiance. According to this document, Allegiance rented a Linden Comansa tower crane with an operator at the following rates:
- $15,750 per month for 6 months, operated up to 173 hours per month;
- $61 per hour for the first 27 hours of overtime each month and $79 per hour after that, with a $98 per hour Sunday and holiday OT rate.
- Mobilization fee of $21,500, and demobilization at $25,850;
- Other fees including climbs, foundation anchors, etc.
See our Allegiance Public Records page for more details, including copies of major filings in the case obtained from the Miami-Dade Circuit Court.
Union Prevails in Music City Center Payroll Appeal
January 23, 2013
In a decision released late Friday, a Tennessee appeals court ruled that Nashville’s Music City Center must release unredacted payroll records to IUOE Local 369.
Local 369 sued to gain access to the unredacted records (not including social security numbers) in November 2011, winning the case in the Chancery Court of Davidson County one month later. The Convention Center Authority appealed the decision, leading to last week’s ruling in the Court of Appeals. The union was awarded the costs of the appeal, and the case is remanded back down to the trial court for enforcement. There is no indication whether the Authority will appeal the decision to the Tennessee Supreme Court.
The Music City Center is a $600 million convention center project in downtown Nashville, funded in part with federal Build America Bonds. As the recipient of federal funding, the project must collect – and make open to public inspection – payroll information showing compliance with the Tennessee Prevailing Wage Act.
IUOE's mid-Tennessee Local 369 has been attempting to inspect unredacted payrolls for two years, in order to verify compliance with the prevailing wage law and to determine whether the project has fulfilled Nashville Mayor Karl Dean’s promises about local hiring. The Authority redacted worker addresses on the payrolls, and charged thousands of dollars for the time spent blacking out the information.
Once the certified payrolls are turned over by the Authority, the IUOE will be conducting a study to determine just how close Mayor Karl Dean came to his promise that a "vast majority" of workers on the project would be local residents. The Authority has said that just over 60% of the workers on this project are local, but has refused to release data backing up this claim. See our Ceco/Music City Center section for more.
Orlando VA Hospital: Third Miller Act Suit Filed
January 15, 2013
Updating our item from December 12, 2012 below, a third Miller Act suit has been filed against Brasfield & Gorrie over the VA Medical Center project in Lake Nona, FL:
USA v. Axios, Brasfield & Gorrie et al - the US sues on behalf of Southern Power & Controls Corp, a Tampa based electrical contractor. Among many charges, the plaintiffs allege that Brasfield & Gorrie used Axios Construction Services as a “straw man and a sham” small business entity subcontractor, and that Brasfield & Gorrie provided “defective and constantly changing Plans and Specifications” causing “extended home office overhead, general and administrative expenses, and other costs attributable to delayed completion.” The plaintiffs ask for a judgment of $2.8 million. The defendants have not yet filed an answer to the complaint.
In the previously reported case USA (Ace Staffing) v. Florida Aluminum & Steel, Brasfield & Gorrie, et al, the plaintiffs have filed an Amended Complaint adding another insurance company defendant. Brasfield & Gorrie has filed an Answer denying the substantive charges in the amended complaint.
There have been no further filings in the case USA (FL Aluminum) v. Brasfield & Gorrie et al since the 12/12/2012 update below.
Any further developments on the VA Medical Center project, and these three lawsuits, will be covered on this site.
Allegiance Purchases Action Crane
January 4, 2013
Sources are reporting Allegiance Crane & Equipment has purchased the assets of Action Crane Service, a family owned crane company based in Fort Lauderdale. Although there has been no formal public announcement by Allegiance or Action, sources on both sides of the deal have reported it to us.
Action Crane’s yard is just a couple of miles south of Allegiance headquarters (ironically enough, just down Powerline Road – see update below). According to local real estate listings Action’s yard is currently for sale. Our sources indicate that Allegiance is buying Action’s cranes and related assets, but not the real estate.
Allegiance made a similar purchase three months ago, when its owner Prophet Equity announced the acquisition of USA Mobile Crane, a south Texas crane company.
Allegiance Crane Takes Out Power Lines on I-595
January 2, 2013
An Allegiance crane travelling with its boom raised took out live power lines late last week, causing major traffic headaches in South Florida.
According to news accounts, the crane snapped a live power line, which came into contact with several other vehicles on I-595, also known as the Port Everglades Expressway. Eastbound lanes were closed for approximately six hours, while ramps to and from the highway were closed nearly 24 hours. Traffic lights in the area were also affected.
News articles indicate that the Florida Highway Patrol charged the Allegiance crane operator with careless driving. No injuries were reported.
Orlando VA Hospital: Missed Deadline, New Miller Act Suits
December 12, 2012
As reported in several previous updates, the VA Medical Center project in Lake Nona, FL has been plagued by problems with nearly all aspects of the job – the construction, the design, the equipment, and even an immigration raid (see February 16 and 17 updates in our 2011 Archives). The project has been the subject of two Congressional hearings (see the August 20 and March 28 updates on this page). The hospital's original opening date of October 2012 has been pushed back repeatedly, and the currently scheduled opening in summer 2013 is in doubt.
According to an article in Monday's Orlando Sentinel, the Veteran's Administration has accused general contractor Brasfield & Gorrie of missing a December 7 deadline to submit a plan and timetable for finishing the project. Brasfield & Gorrie claims it was not aware of any such deadline.
The article repeats a familiar theme: the VA blames Brasfield & Gorrie for the delays, while the contractor blames change orders and incomplete designs. Apparently the project has never come close to its anticipated staffing level of 1,200 workers; currently there are 700 to 800 workers, which the VA calls "insufficient."
In related developments, two Miller Act suits have been filed in the Middle District of Florida federal court (click on the case name to see the complaints):
USA v. Florida Aluminum & Steel, Brasfield & Gorrie, et al – the US sues on behalf of temp agency Ace Staffing, which provided workers for Brasfield & Gorrie subcontractor Florida Aluminum. The suit claims that Ace Staffing is owed $45,386 plus interest and costs. Attached to the complaint (pages 15-24) are invoices for temp laborers allegedly supplied by Ace Staffing.
USA v. Brasfield & Gorrie et al – one month after the suit above, the US sues Brasfield & Gorrie on behalf of Florida Aluminum, which is now referred to as a "dissolved corporation." According to the complaint:
B&G failed to timely complete its concrete construction, which resulted in a five (5) month delay at Florida Aluminum's expense. Once Florida Aluminum began its work on the Project, it encountered numerous construction issues attributable to B&G, which resulted in further delays and additional labor expenditures by Florida Aluminum. The issues include but are not limited to:
a. The failure of B&G's concrete work to conform to the project drawings and specifications. As a result of the failure to conform, Florida Aluminum was required to make repairs on B&G's concrete work at 1,284 locations on the Project;
b. Multiple change orders and schedule revisions by B&G, which resulted in an additional 160 days of labor for Florida Aluminum and estimated delay damages in the amount of $1,282,096.00 (the calculation includes eight workers working per additional day); and
c. Stolen materials at the Project which took Florida Aluminum 241 fabrication hours to replace at a labor cost of $48,504.00.
The complaint asks for a judgment of $2,207,763 plus interest and costs against Brasfield & Gorrie.
Any further developments on the VA Medical Center project, and these two lawsuits, will be covered on this site.
Source: Overloaded Beyel Crane Buckles in Orlando
December 5, 2012
According to a source – a crane operator (not a Beyel employee) who happened to be passing by and stopped to watch the unsuccessful lift – an overloaded Beyel Brothers crane buckled and dropped its load yesterday in Orlando, FL.
The source, who took the photos below, claims that a Beyel picker (the Link-Belt in the photos) was lifting a head section that was to be added to a Kobelco crawler crane. The source told us the boom section was lifted only five feet off the ground when the picker buckled and the load came crashing down.
Our source speculates that the crane was overloaded for its configuration. There did not appear to be any injuries to workers, or damage to property other than the crane.
Click on the thumbnails below to see photos taken immediately after the accident:
The Beyel crane was working on the SR 434/John Young Parkway Extension, a $41 million project by the Florida Department of Transportation. Southland Construction of Apopka, FL is the general contractor.
Any further information will be posted on this site. Please email email@example.com if you have any information (all communications will be kept confidential).
Allegiance Will Collect on Debt to General Crane
December 3, 2012
The liquidating trustee of General Crane's Bankruptcy Trust recently filed a motion to approve a settlement agreement that would allow Allegiance Crane & Equipment to collect a $12,856 debt owed to General Crane.
Under the bankruptcy code, payments made by a party that is financially insolvent – but has not yet filed for bankruptcy – can sometimes be reversed during the bankruptcy proceedings. General Crane's bankruptcy trustee has filed a number of adversary cases against parties General did business with prior to filing for bankruptcy in 2009. One of these adversary cases was against Hunter Heavy Equipment, and now this case has reached a settlement pending final approval from the court.
In the 90 days prior to its bankruptcy General made payments on debts owed to Hunter Heavy Equipment. In the complaint against Hunter, the Trustee demands the return of "certain prepetition preferential transfers" in the amount of $17,910. The parties agree to settle this dispute for around half this amount - $9,000 will be paid to the General Crane Liquidating Trust.
But the settlement also reveals that at the time General filed for bankruptcy, the company owed Hunter Heavy Equipment $73,009 and in return, Hunter owed General $85,865. Hunter Heavy Equipment must pay the difference, but the $12,856 is not going to General Crane's creditors. Rather, the money will be paid to Allegiance Crane & Equipment.
As we have previously reported, General Crane's assets were purchased out of bankruptcy by Allegiance Crane, a new crane company owned by Prophet Equity and managed by Jim Robertson. Prophet Equity bought more than just cranes and yards – it also bought General's accounts receivable, thus allowing Allegiance to collect on this debt to General.
According to a filing by General's trustee no one has opposed the settlement plan, making its approval by the court likely.
For more information and documents, please visit General's Bankruptcy Case Page. For more information on General Crane, Allegiance Crane and Prophet Equity please visit their respective company pages.
Please note: Hunter Heavy Equipment is a Texas City, TX crane rental company. It is not related to Hunter Merchant, the Florida company owned by Steve and Jason Retterath.
New Profiles: Prophet Equity Portfolio Companies
November 19, 2012
Our ongoing coverage of Allegiance Crane and its owner Prophet Equity expands today with profiles of two of Prophet Equity’s other portfolio companies, Ace Asphalt of Arizona and HLI Energy Services. The initial profiles of these companies include the following:
Ace Asphalt of Arizona
- Safety - In the past decade, Ace Asphalt has been the subject of sixteen OSHA investigations with nine resulting in violations.
- Federal and State Litigation – Our page includes documents from court cases involving Ace Asphalt. Cases include one lawsuit with alleged harassment, discrimination and retaliation by Ace Asphalt, which was ultimately settled out of court.
- Employee Benefits – On its website, Ace states that its benefit package includes a 401(k) “with an aggressive company match based on company performance.” Recent filings show that Ace has not contributed to the company’s 401k fund in at least the last three years.
Please visit our Ace Asphalt of Arizona page for a more detailed look at the company.
HLI Energy Services
- Federal Litigation – Our page includes documents from recent court cases involving HLI Energy Services.
- Employee Benefits –Form 5500 filings from the last three years show that employer contributions to participants in the company’s 401k plan have dropped dramatically.
Please visit our HLI Energy Services page for a more detailed look at the company.
Beyel Alone in the Zero Club
November 15, 2012
As we first reported on August 4, 2011, some of our featured companies have been members of what we call The Zero Club. These companies contribute exactly zero dollars towards the retirement of their employees. While improving economic conditions have allowed most of our featured companies to leave The Zero Club, Beyel Brothers remains.
In late 2009 Beyel Brothers instated both a "temporary" benefit cut in 401k plan contributions and a 7% pay cut. The 2011 annual report for Beyel Brothers' 401k plan has been released by the Department of Labor, and it shows that Beyel continued to put zero dollars into its employees' 401k plan through 2011. According to the filing, there were 199 "Active Participants" in the Beyel plan in 2011, a drop from the 225 participants the year before. Of those active participants, only 69 of them, 35% of the company's workforce, have account balances in the plan.
As we reported in August, CraneWorks recently reinstated its partial but meager matching contribution after suspending its own 401k contributions for two years. Hunter Merchant makes a meager contribution to employee retirement, as does Allegiance Crane, though the Department of Labor has not yet released an annual report for Allegiance's plan.
While these other companies have at least taken small steps by contributing something to their employee 401k plans, Beyel remains in The Zero Club alone. Beyel called its cuts temporary but still shows no sign of reinstating contributions.
Please visit our Beyel Brothers For Workers page for more details and documents.
Allegiance Crane Refinances Mortgage on Pompano Yard
October 17, 2012
Allegiance Crane recently refinanced the mortgage on its headquarters yard at 777 South Andrews Avenue, Pompano Beach, Florida. The five-acre Pompano yard was purchased in December 2011, just one day after General Crane's Plan of Reorganization was approved.
According to the new mortgage, Allegiance has a line of credit from PNC Bank for $51.5 million. Allegiance is tapping into the credit line for $3.96 million to refinance the mortgage.
Jim Robertson's boss, Pelham Smith of Prophet Equity, signed the mortgage as "Managing Director" of Allegiance Crane. Prophet Equity has a history with PNC Bank: in the past few years, PNC has been listed as the creditor on UCC financing statements related to Prophet Equity's acquisitions of Ace Asphalt, HLI Energy Services and Chief Supply.
More information on Prophet Equity and its portfolio companies and investors will be posted in future updates.
Allegiance Responds in Port-a-John Accident Lawsuit
October 16, 2012
As reported in previous updates, Allegiance Crane & Equipment was involved in an accident at the Bellini Williams Island construction site in Aventura, FL on April 3, 2012. The Aventura Police Report on the accident indicates that an Allegiance crane was lowering "Port-a-Johns" from the upper floors of the structure when one broke loose and struck a worker on the ground.
In June, the injured worker, a leased employee of Commercial Forming Corp. South, filed a lawsuit in Miami-Dade Circuit Court. On July 9, 2012 the plaintiff filed an amended complaint which added a count of gross negligence against both Allegiance and the crane operator. The amended complaint also lists Bellini as a defendant and added a count of negligence against Bellini as owner and developer of the site where the plaintiff was injured.
The amended complaint states that the plaintiff suffered "significant personal injuries" after Allegiance "negligently and carelessly" dropped a 400 pound Port-a-John on him. The plaintiff asked for a judgment and damages against Allegiance, Bellini, and the crane operator.
Allegiance has responded to the claims asking that the amended complaint be dismissed on the grounds that the plaintiffs' complaint failed "to state a cause of action against Allegiance" because "Allegiance is immune from tort liability under the circumstances alleged." It also states that the complaint fails to allege gross negligence on the part of Allegiance because gross negligence requires the Plaintiff to allege that the Defendant had to have knowledge of "clear and present danger" and still "undertook a voluntary act and/or omission which was likely to result in injury."
We have not yet obtained a response from the plaintiff but we will provide further updates when they become available. Please visit our Allegiance Public Records page for complete case information and up to date court documents.
Allegiance Crane Broke a Miami Beach Water Main
October 15, 2012
According to documents we recently obtained under the Florida Public Records Law, Allegiance Crane & Equipment broke a water main pipe in Miami Beach on June 27, 2012.
The files do not indicate specifically how Allegiance broke the water main, only that the 8-inch pipe was "damaged…by crane outriggers." Sources at Allegiance have told us that the crane was a 500-ton Liebherr loaded with counterweights. According to an Allegiance employee, the water main broke as the operator swung the crane around over one of the outriggers to make a lift.
The accident occurred at 1500 Bay Road in Miami Beach, which is the address of the Flamingo South Beach luxury condos. According to the records released by the City, the repairs, which were not completed until July 16, cost over $14,600. Over twenty individuals worked on the site on eight separate days for a combined 240 hours. The files list over 59 pieces of equipment that were used, and indicate that a boil water advisory was in effect for three days.
The City of Miami Beach released the following files:
There is no indication in these files that the City has attempted to recover the costs, or taken any other action against Allegiance Crane. We are following up with several Miami Beach agencies, and will post any further information on this site.
OSHA Releases Allegiance Accident File
October 12, 2012
We have obtained an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) investigation file from a May 17, 2012 accident involving Allegiance Crane & Equipment. The file lists the location of the accident as 11960 SW 144 Street, Miami, FL, which is the address of Noven Pharmaceuticals (the drug company is not named in the OSHA file).
According to the OSHA file, an Allegiance employee was "injured when the mobile crane boom fell on him" and he was "transported to Kendall Regional Medical Center via Miami Dade Fire Rescue." Included in the file is the product guide to the Manitex Series 2801 Boom Truck. The file also contains outlines of Allegiance's safety manual and safety training course.
Florida's Workers' Compensation Loss Run Database shows that an Allegiance employee filed a comp claim against the company over a May 17 accident, but it is not clear from either filing whether the OSHA file and the claim are the result of the same incident (we have deleted the Allegiance worker's name):
OSHA's website still lists the case as open. Stay tuned here on Crane Watchdog for updated information on this case as it becomes available. Please visit our Allegiance Crane page for more information on the company.
Jim Robertson Wants You To Believe….
October 10, 2012
According to a news article posted on Allegiance Crane's website, Jim Robertson wants you to believe:
- That Allegiance Crane has "set aside $300 million to buy other construction-related companies;"
- That Allegiance Crane got a "capital infusion" from Prophet Equity;
- That "anyone (not just Jim Robertson) who spent money from 2006 to 2008 needed to be restructured;"
- That the recession "weeded out unqualified crane operators…there were people operating cranes who shouldn't be operating a Bobcat;"
- And that "the good guys survived."
Whew, where to begin? How about with some questions:
- How does a company that was bought out of bankruptcy for $40 million "set aside" $300 million one year later?
- Does Jim Robertson want us to believe that Prophet Equity gave him $300 million to buy other companies?
- Would you give Jim Robertson $300 million to invest on your behalf?
- Is "capital infusion" the same thing as "bought out of bankruptcy after the company was run into the ground under a crushing debt burden, which included massive purchases of tower cranes and expansions into Georgia and Nevada when all signs pointed to an economic slowdown?"
- Who do you think some of those unqualified crane operators worked for? (Hint: they were definitely not IUOE members).
For the facts on Allegiance Crane – based on public records and surveys of current and former employees – check out our new Allegiance Crane profile.
Over the next few weeks, we will add much more information on Robertson and Prophet Equity, including details on the private equity firm's investors and portfolio companies. And watch for our profile of the Margaritaville Beach Resort project in Hollywood, FL. Allegiance will help build it; you might be surprised to find out who is investing in it (besides Jimmy Buffett).
September 25, 2012
Crane Companies, Prevailing Wage Fraud and Bible Study
In the next few days, CraneWatchdog.com will begin full coverage of Allegiance Crane and its owner, Prophet Equity. Soon after, our coverage will expand to Georgia.
Specific Georgia crane companies to be covered will be named soon. And we will begin posting the findings of our statewide investigation of Davis Bacon compliance in the heavy equipment industry.
As a preview of these efforts, please check out a story that aired last night on Fox 5 Atlanta. Our investigation led to the Department of Labor finding that several equipment operators were owed back pay for work on federal projects, and that employees of Thompson Grading were allegedly forced to attend Bible Study classes on personal (unpaid) time.
ThyssenKrupp v. United Forming: $20 Million Lawsuit (Part 2)
September 18, 2012
Steel Giant Alleges United Forming Illegally Used Unlicensed Subcontractors; Submits Photos of Allegedly Defective Work
As a follow up to the September 13 update below, today we present further filings from a federal lawsuit over alleged defective work at the ThyssenKrupp steel mill near Mobile, AL.
- United Forming subcontracted work to Liberty Reinforcing Steel and Reliable Staffing, neither of which was properly licensed to work in Alabama. United Forming cannot pursue a claim against ThyssenKrupp based on "illegal subcontracts with unlicensed subcontractors."
- ThyssenKrupp further claims "It is a crime for UFI to contract with Liberty and Reliable Staffing. Section 34-8- 6(a) of the Alabama Code states: 'Furthermore, any person including an owner, architect, engineer, construction manager, or private awarding authority who considers a bid from anyone not properly licensed under this chapter shall be deemed guilty of a Class B misdemeanor and shall for each offense of which he or she is convicted be punished as provided by law.' Because UFI not only considered a "bid" but further entered into illegal contracts with Liberty and Reliable Staffing, UFI violated Alabama law and committed a criminal act.
ThyssenKrupp submitted several exhibits to these filings, including a photo which appears to show a Pepsi can in the concrete mix in an elevator shaft:
ThyssenKrupp submitted 11 photos as evidence of allegedly defective concrete work, and also filed an Affidavit from the Alabama Licensing Board for General Contractors which claims that Liberty Reinforcing Steel has not been licensed in Alabama.
United Forming has not yet responded to these motions. Further updates on this case will be posted as new filings become available.
Our United Forming profile has been updated with information on this case, several other federal lawsuits, OSHA records and more.
ThyssenKrupp v. United Forming: $20 Million Lawsuit (Part 1)
September 13, 2012
Steel Giant Alleges Defective Work, Disregard for Safety, Incompetent Riggers and More
A federal lawsuit over alleged defective work at an Alabama steel mill has expanded in recent weeks, dragging dozens of contractors into the dispute as subpoenas fly throughout the Southeast.
In May 2012 ThyssenKrupp Steel sued Georgia-based concrete company United Forming, alleging in a Complaint:
United Forming's performance under the contract was flawed - so much so that a separate, exhaustive process was created just to address the numerous defects in UFI's work, which include: defective installation work resulting in honeycombing, insufficient coverage over rebar, and various other problems. These numerous defects resulted in delays to the project, and delays to other contractors resulting ultimately in monetary damages to TKS.
ThyssenKrupp essentially asked the court for a judgment finding that the steel company was not liable for any further payments due to United Forming.
In its Answer, United Forming claimed that any delays were due to 53 change orders to the original agreement. United Forming asked for a judgment of just under $20 million, plus interest and costs.
ThyssenKrupp shot back with an Answer to the Counterclaim, which included the following:
United Forming was admonished because of its cavalier disregard for safety, particularly with respect to the manner in which it utilized cranes in its work. As examples, UFI used Spanish-only speaking riggers to attempt to communicate with English-only speaking crane operators, with predictable results. After numerous issues brought to light that these crane riggers were incompetent, a series of practical examinations was administered to the riggers. All of the riggers failed these initial exams.
A Letter attached to this filing expands on this claim. In the letter, a ThyssenKrupp official makes allegations about a lack of English-speaking riggers, conflicting radio channels resulting in several riggers speaking to several crane operators on the same channel and at the same time, and riggers using unsafe practices including moving suspended loads above other workers without adequate warning. ThyssenKrupp further alleged that every single United Forming rigger failed both written and oral competency tests administered by general contractor Parsons Construction, then scored in the 33% - 50% range on a third test administered by an independent third party.
In recent weeks the two parties have subpoenaed witnesses and records from companies including Parsons, Morris Shea Bridge Co., Burkhalter Rigging, CH2M Hill and many more. Another company issued a subpoena is Frank Crum, the "employee leasing" agency which has leased employees to Beyel Brothers in the past (Beyel's employees are currently "leased" from Howard Leasing).
Next week we will post further information on this case, including photos of allegedly shoddy work submitted as evidence.
Our United Forming profile has been updated with information on this case, several other federal lawsuits, OSHA records and more. United Forming is a frequent customer of Beyel Brothers and other companies that undercut area standards.
Roundup: Allegiance, Music City, Ceco
September 12, 2012
Prophet Equity Acquires USA Mobile Crane
Prophet Equity has announced the acquisition of USA Mobile Crane, a south Texas crane company with branches in San Antonio and Carrizo Springs. USA Mobile will be merged into the existing operations of Allegiance Crane & Equipment, expanding Allegiance's reach in Texas.
Detailed profiles of Allegiance Crane and Prophet Equity are coming soon to this site.
Music City to pay $678,000 in Taxpayer Dollars over Scheduling Snafu
The board of the Convention Center Authority in Nashville, the government body overseeing the operations of Nashville's Music City Center, took a gamble in 2009. Before ground had even been broken on the Music City project the board scheduled two events banking on hopes that construction on the center would finish over a month early. This gamble did not work out and now it is costing taxpayers.
Two associations, the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA) and the Technology & Maintenance Council of the American Trucking Association (ATA) were scheduled to hold conferences at the center more than a month before the building was scheduled to open. According to a video from News Channel 5 the two associations had booked their March 2013 conventions back in June of 2009.
Now the associations have made the decision to relocate upon news that construction will not be fully completed before their events. Of the two shows, one will remain in the area while the other has relocated to Florida. Aside from the tourism loss the Tennessean reported that the government is paying "more than $678,000 in taxpayer dollars to make restitution" to the two associations.
The payout approval is also documented in the July 12, 2012 Convention Center Authority meeting minutes. The minutes confirm the payment amount demonstrating that the Authority will pay the ATA $110,000 and also reduce the rent for future convention in the years 2015-2017 from $35,000 per year to $0.00 per year. In addition, the minutes show the Authority must pay $568,153 to the HPBA. All of these fees cover a cancellation fee, assist the groups with other expenses necessary for relocation, and cover additional expenses that would not have been necessary if the events had remained at the Music City Center.
Visit our Music City page for additional information on the Music City project.
Litigation Update: Sims v. Ceco
As we have previously reported, Paul Sims filed a complaint against Ceco Concrete on July 13th 2011 alleging that the company "racially segregated its workforce into Black and Non-Black crews" and "regularly assigned more work assignments to the Non-Black concrete finishing crew." He alleged that his pay was reduced as the Non-Black crews received more work.
This complaint was almost identical to two other complaints of racial discrimination which were later dismissed to arbitration. Ceco attempted the same maneuver with the Sims case, but the court found that arbitration was not applicable in this situation.
On August 31st 2012, Ceco filed a Motion for Summary Judgment with attached supporting evidence where the company denies that work crews were racially segregated. The motion also claims that seven separate racially offensive remarks made by three crew supervisors were "stray remarks" and that these seven racist remarks made by the supervisors in question were made by "non-decision makers" when it came to Sims' work assignments. Ceco concludes its filings with the statement "There is no evidence, circumstantial or direct, that any Ceco employee high in the corporate hierarchy or upper management countenanced or approved any discriminatory statements or behavior." The court has responded with an order that it will take the motion under advisement but no further decisions have been made.
See our Ceco Concrete page for more details and additional documents from the case.
Roundup: Music City, CraneWorks
August 29, 2012
Music City Hiring, Payroll Lawsuit
As reported in the August 16, 2012 update below, the Music City Center Authority has begun staffing the $600 million convention center, scheduled to open in April 2013. While the Authority is preparing to hire managers at above-market salaries with the same solid benefit package offered to Nashville Metro government employees, it appears that non-management positions will be outsourced to the lowest bidder.
Nashville's WSMV Channel 4 aired a story on the situation, which includes comments from IUOE Local 369 Business Manager Wayne Wells:
Also, a Tennessee Court of Appeals has finally scheduled oral arguments in the IUOE Local 369 v. Convention Center Authority lawsuit over public access to certified payroll information. The IUOE mid-Tennessee local won the lower court case in December 2011.
CraneWorks 401k Plan
Two years after suspending contributions to its 401k plan, CraneWorks has reinstated its partial – and meager – matching contribution.
The US Department of Labor has released the 2011 annual report, known as Form 5500, for the CraneWorks 401k. The filing shows that the company reinstated matching contributions in 2011, contributing $46,059 to 65 plan participants, or $709 per worker. In 2008, the last year that CraneWorks matched contributions for the full year, the company kicked in $2,126 per worker (the participants contributed an average of $3,075 each that year).
See our CraneWorks – For Workers page for details.
VA Hospital Delays Lead to Second Congressional Hearing
August 20, 2012
The US House Veterans Affairs Committee held another hearing on the VA Medical Center project in Lake Nona, FL, which has been plagued by problems in nearly all aspects of the job – the construction, the design, the equipment, and even an immigration raid (see February 16, 2011 in our Archives). The Committee has released written testimony and a hearing webcast on its website.
VA official Glenn Haggstrom testified that the VA's revisions to design drawings were a part of the problem, but also pointed to "the slow progress of construction by Brasfield and Gorrie, LLC, the prime contractor."
Jim Gorrie, President and CEO of Brasfield & Gorrie, claimed that "poor planning by the VA and design errors have plagued our efforts to construct the VA Medical Center." According to Gorrie's written remarks:
A few weeks ago - the VA also withheld $2 million from our monthly payment, without discussion. This action creates an additional financial hardship to us. The VA has also contacted our bonding company for meetings on several occasions without contacting me directly to discuss their concerns first. Our bonding company attended a meeting in Washington, D.C. at the request of the VA in July. This is the first time in our 48 year history our bonding company has attended such a meeting. Last month, the VA gave us the first "Unsatisfactory" rating we have ever received on a Government project in our 48 year history of doing business - again with no advanced warning. As you know - these "Unsatisfactory" ratings are shared throughout the Government and will have a major negative impact on our ability to get new work.
Orlando TV station WFTV Channel 9 posted a video on its website showing rust allegedly caused by water damage at the $600 million facility. Additional coverage of the hearing is available on the Orlando Sentinel website.
Our updates below have information on a Notice to Cure the VA issued to Brasfield & Gorrie (June 19, 2012) and the first Congressional hearing on delays in the $600 million medical center project (March 28, 2012).
Music City Update – Payroll Lawsuit, Compensation Study
August 16, 2012
As reported in several previous updates, IUOE Local 369 of middle Tennessee sued the Music City Center over information redacted from public certified payrolls. The IUOE local won the suit in December 2011, but the Convention Center Authority appealed the decision.
Both parties have now filed briefs at the Tennessee Court of Appeals. IUOE Local 369 argues for full access to the certified payrolls, as already ordered by a lower court, while the Authority argues for government secrecy in the name of privacy concerns.
Oral arguments have not yet been scheduled in the case. See our Music City Center profile for more information on the $600 million convention center project.
As reported in the March 12, 2012 update below, the Music City Center Authority hired human resources consultant Cushion Employer Services to make recommendations on pay, benefits and other employee issues for the Music City Center. Cushion has delivered its recommendations to the Authority, which are attached to its July 2012 meeting minutes.
Apparently Cushion's report only focused on management pay and benefits – and Cushion recommends that Music City Center department directors be paid well above the market rate for similar positions in Nashville (the full chart appears on page 11 of the minutes):
The study does not make recommendations for non-management positions, and it appears the reason might be that there technically won't be any non-management employees of the Music City Center, which is scheduled to open in April 2013. Elsewhere in the minutes, a Power Point slide appears to indicate that hourly positions will be filled through RFP's – i.e. outsourced:
Nashville Mayor Karl Dean has already broken his promise that a "vast majority" of construction workers on the Music City Center would be local workers, and studies by both the Tennessean newspaper and this website have shown that a vast majority of construction contracts were awarded to companies headquartered outside of Tennessee.
We urge the Music City Center Authority to reverse this trend by awarding contracts to local companies and hiring local workers.
Round Up: Music City, Beyel
August 9, 2012
Sunlight Foundation Shines Light on Omni's Rowling
The Sunlight Foundation, a nonprofit group that advocates for open government, has issued a report on the political contributions of Texas billionaire Robert Rowling, who has given $6.8 million to the "Super PAC" American Crossroads, and a total of $11.4 million to various PACs and candidates since 1989. According to the Foundation's study, Rowling uses "his private fortune to seek public dollars."
Rowling controls Omni Hotels (among other companies), which is the official hotel of the Music City Center in Nashville. The Sunlight Foundation gives examples of Rowling's donations being aligned with his business interests, such as a $1,000 donation to Mayor Karl Dean the same month Omni broke ground in Nashville.
Settlement Reached in Keenan v. Beyel Brothers
As we have previously reported, a Beyel maritime employee filed a federal lawsuit over injuries he sustained in two separate incidents while working aboard the Beyel tugboat M/V Gus Henrich. The plaintiff alleged that on May 29, 2010 he sustained injuries to his arm, shoulder, and spine which caused his physician to order him to work light duty. But according to Keenan, Beyel "delayed, failed and/or refused to pay Plaintiff's entire maintenance and cure benefits" and prematurely required him to return to work, causing further injuries in July 2010.
Beyel Brothers denied the plaintiff's claims and filed a counterclaim alleging the plaintiff failed to disclose preexisting conditions when he was hired. In addition Beyel claimed that the allegations made by Keenan regarding maintenance and cure benefits were false because Beyel had in fact paid, and continued to pay all of the Plaintiffs maintenance and cure obligations.
On March 8th 2012, Beyel filed an Emergency Motion for Protective Order to Stay the Production of Financial Records. The original request for financial records came from the Keenan, who served two Requests for Production centered on his claim for punitive damages. In the Emergency Motion Beyel argued that it was unlawful of the court to require Beyel to provide its financial documents while Keenan's claims of punitive damages still lacked the supporting evidence. Beyel argued that it would be prejudiced if Beyel was required to produce confidential and proprietary information prior to a ruling on the punitive damages because the Plaintiff should not otherwise be entitled to such crucial and sensitive financial information. The court granted Beyel's request to keep its financial information private.
The plaintiff filed a motion for summary judgment on Beyel's counterclaim which was denied on June 21st 2012. The parties filed a joint notice of settlement and the case dismissal was granted by the court on August 1st 2012, after nearly two years of litigation.
Visit our Keenan v. Beyel Brothers case page for more information and up to date case documents.
Lewis Equipment Bankruptcy: Latest Developments
August 2, 2012
The once high flying Lewis Equipment has no actual physical assets left, according to the most recent financial report filed in the company's bankruptcy case. But also according to this report, which covers the first quarter of 2012, Lewis still has over one half million dollars in the bank. The trustee overseeing the Lewis estate is still trying to collect some old debts, while a Nevada crane operator is trying to collect over $14,000 in back wages.
The following are recent developments in the Lewis case:
Motion by Leeds to Enforce Judgment – Leeds won a judgment against Lewis in Nevada for $14,027.88 plus interest for unpaid wages, and is attempting to collect from the bankruptcy estate. But the Lewis trustee responded that the "alleged judgment" was issued in violation of the automatic stay of litigation proceedings ordered by the bankruptcy court in Texas.
Trustee v. Capform – The Trustee is attempting to collect $128,992 from concrete contractor Capform, over the alleged rental of a tower crane for the Stoneleigh Residences project in Dallas. According to the complaint, this multi-use high rise stalled when the owner filed for bankruptcy. The Trustee submitted into evidence a letter from Capform announcing a settlement with mechanic's lien holders on the Stoneleigh project: they would be paid 5.5 cents on the dollar. The Trustee argues that Lewis is entitled to the full amount allegedly owed, not the settlement amount.
Trustee v. JC Duke and Gulf Coast Construction Group – The Trustee seeks to collect on $20,551 allegedly owed for a bare crane used on the National Maritime Museum project in Mobile, AL.
Trustee v. NNA Financial – The Trustee asks for a judgment of $10,896 over alleged unpaid invoices for a bare crane rental on a bridge job in Denton County, TX.
Zeiger Crane Rental Signs Agreement With IUOE
August 1, 2012
In April 2012, Zeiger crane operators and mechanics voted for representation by IUOE South Florida Local 487. Effective today, Zeiger Crane Rental has signed a collective bargaining agreement with the IUOE which meets Area Standards for crane operators in Florida. The IUOE looks forward to working and growing with Zeiger Crane Rental, and this site's coverage of Zeiger Crane Rental will cease immediately. CraneWatchdog.com will continue to cover companies that do not meet Area Standards. Allegiance Crane & Equipment will be our next featured company.
OSHA Releases Allegiance Port-a-John Accident File
July 16, 2012
We have obtained the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) pending investigation file on the April 2012 accident at the Bellini Williams Island construction site in Aventura, FL. As reported in the April 9 update below, this accident involved a worker struck by a Port-a-John being lowered to the ground by an Allegiance crane (see also the June 18 update on a lawsuit over this accident).
According to OSHA, which has not completed its investigation, the agency recommends fines totaling $10,500 against Commercial Forming Corporation, based in Pompano Beach, FL. The investigation alleges that "fall protection equipment was incorrectly being used to hoist equipment." In this case, an anchor strap was used to rig the Port-a-John. The investigation file claims the foreman explained "he always used a safety strap to hoist equipment and there wasn't any failure or accident in the past."
The image and text below are from the OSHA file:
Commercial Forming was also cited for violations involved workers being in the fall zone and/or directly under a load. OSHA records indicate that the investigation will continue. We will report on any further developments.
Roundup: Beyel, Ceco Litigation; TNT Acquires Turner
Miguel v. American Cutting & Drilling, Beyel Brothers, et al – The surviving family of an American Cutting worker killed at a jobsite in Palm Beach sued his employer, Beyel Brothers and over a dozen other parties involved in the project. The case against Beyel was dropped after the parties "amicably resolved" the litigation. Our case page has been updated with recent documents including the dismissal.
Amerisure v. American Cutting et al – In this related lawsuit, Beyel and other defendants were dismissed from the federal case early on, and on June 19th 2012 the remaining parties filed a notice for voluntary dismissal bringing the case to a close.
Updated filings from both of the above cases are available on our Miguel v. American Cutting and Drilling page.
Keenan v. Beyel Brothers - In this case, a former Beyel Brothers maritime employee alleges he sustained injuries while working aboard the Beyel tugboat M/V Gus Henrich. The plaintiff alleges that Beyel "delayed, failed and/or refused to pay Plaintiff's entire maintenance and cure benefits" and prematurely required him to return to work, causing him further injuries. Beyel denied the plaintiff's claims and filed a counterclaim alleging that the plaintiff failed to disclose preexisting conditions when hired. The plaintiff filed a motion for summary judgment on Beyel's counterclaim which was denied on June 21st 2012. Further developments in this case will be posted as they are made available.
Black v. Ceco Concrete - The plaintiff, who worked as a carpenter and project superintendant for Ceco from 1987-2010, accused Ceco of terminating the employment of workers over 50 and replacing them with workers in their 20s and 30s. The case alleged that Ceco had violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Both parties in the case agreed to dismissal without prejudice on June 13th 2012.
Gomez v. Ceco Concrete - The surviving spouse of a worker killed at the Embassy Suites and Conference Center in Murfreesboro, TN sued Ceco for wrongful death. Throughout the case, it has been clear that the victim fell 10 stories through a ventilation shaft to his death, and that the shaft was improperly covered. Witnesses have differed on who was responsible for covering and marking the opening. In September of 2011, Ceco won an order granting summary judgment, with the court finding that it could not have been responsible for Mr. Gomez' death because it left the jobsite well before the accident. On June 6th 2012, the remaining parties filed a joint status report stating that they have reached an agreement in the case. All further hearings for the case have been terminated.
More details, and copies of case filings for the above two cases, are available on our Ceco Concrete Profile page.
TNT Acquires Turner
Although these companies are not featured on this website, readers may be interested to know that TNT Crane & Rigging has purchased the crane operations of Turner Bros. LLC. The acquisition, announced today in American Cranes & Transport, ends months of rumors about acquisitions in the Texas crane industry. TNT is owned by Odyssey Investment Partners.
Beyel Wins in Troop Case Settlement, Still Owes Property Taxes
Support Our Troops to Pay $66,600, Beyel owes nearly $300,00 in delinquent property taxes
June 27, 2012
The court case between Beyel Brothers and Support Our Troops, a charity that sends care packages to troops overseas, has ended in settlement.
As we have previously reported, Beyel sued the charity in a dispute over dockage fees for a damaged vessel docked at Beyel's facility at Port Canaveral. According to media accounts and filings in the case, the charity believed that Beyel was donating its services in storing the ship. Beyel sued the charity in federal court when Support Our Troops refused to pay a $53,210 bill they allege was a surprise.
On June 18th 2012, the parties filed a notice to settle the case. An affidavit of James King, registered owner of the Support our Troops vessel, gives the details of the agreement in which he states that the troops charity has agreed to pay Beyel $66,600. The $66,600 will be taken from the $75,000 security currently held in the registry of the court after the charity posted that amount back in January in exchange for release of their vessel from Beyel.
The case was dismissed on June 21st 2012 following the settlement.
Full details and additional documents from the case, are available on our Beyel v. King page.
The settlement amount represents about one-fifth of the amount Beyel currently owes in delinquent property taxes throughout the state of Florida. According to our most recent search of Florida property records, Beyel is currently delinquent $298,844.02 on 19 parcels in four counties. See our Beyel Property page for more details.
Paraplegic General Worker's Lawsuits Continue for Eight Years
June 22, 2012
Recently General Crane's bankruptcy trustee filed a Notice to Withdraw Appearance on behalf of Jim Robertson. In this notice Robertson announced a withdrawal from the case and requested a stop in electronic notices because as the documentation states he "has no further interest in this case."
While Robertson declared the freedom to move past General Crane and its bankruptcy, other parties affected by General Crane are still bogged down in court proceedings. As Robertson proceeds forward with his new company Allegiance Crane, Eric Rinkus, the victim of a severe crane accident, has been unable to move forward with his life.
As we have previously reported, Rinkus filed a suit against General Crane in 2006 claiming that he was forced to work in dangerous conditions, which resulted in a load hitting him and causing serious bodily injury, rendering him a paraplegic back in 2004 – see the Rinkus case page for complete background information. Rinkus filed a claim in General's bankruptcy case; both parties agreed to let the state case proceed.
In February 2011, we reported that Certain Underwriters at Lloyd's of London filed a suit in federal court in Florida against General Crane regarding insurance payments in the liability settlement. In an amended complaint the plaintiff is asking the court to rule that the insurance coverage provided by Lloyd's to General does not cover the Rinkus injury.
Over a year later, on May 25th 2012, the story continues as Arch Specialty Insurance has also filed a suit in the District Court of Southern Florida against General regarding insurance payments in the Rinkus liability settlement. Arch is also asking the court to rule that the insurance coverage provided by Arch to General does not cover the Rinkus injury. Arch like Lloyd's before it is not objecting to the settlement itself, rather their part in the payment. Should the court rule in Arch's favor and the Rinkus case result in a monetary award, Arch would not be obligated to pay because the injury falls outside of their policy's scope.
Stay tuned to Crane Watchdog for further information on Jim Robertson, Allegiance Crane, and the Rinkus cases as we continue to monitor the situation.
For more complete information on the ongoing insurance cases visit the following litigation pages:
VA to Brasfield & Gorrie: Speed it up or Pack it up
June 19, 2012
As reported in several previous updates, the VA Medical Center project in Lake Nona, FL has been plagued by problems with nearly all aspects of the job – the construction, the design, the equipment, and even an immigration raid (see February 16, 2011 in our Archives). The original opening date of October 2012 has been pushed back repeatedly, and the currently scheduled opening in summer 2013 is now in doubt.
At a recent Congressional hearing, general contractor Brasfield & Gorrie placed blame for the delays on design changes by the VA. The federal agency has fired back, issuing a "Notice to Cure" giving Brasfield & Gorrie ten days to develop a plan to increase the number of construction workers on the project, now estimated at 500 or fewer.
The Orlando area project is a $665 million, 1.2 million square feet medical complex designed to provide services to veterans in six Central Florida counties. In comparison to the 500 or fewer workers reportedly on this project, the $600 million, 1.2 million square feet Music City Center in Nashville had 1,200 to 1,300 workers on site daily in recent months.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, the VA's resident engineer for the project said "We hope Brasfield & Gorrie acknowledges they have everything they need to complete the job … and diligently pursue the work." If not, he said, the VA ultimately could terminate the contract and seek another firm. A Brasfield & Gorrie spokesperson countered that "We continue to receive waves of design changes."
Central Florida News 13 also published an article on the latest developments, with a full statement from Brasfield & Gorrie.
Birmingham, AL-based Brasfield & Gorrie is one of the largest general contractors in the US, and is a frequent customer of CraneWorks, Beyel Brothers and other companies that do not meet area standards for crane operators. The company is currently building the Omni Hotel attached to the Music City Center, and has been the contractor on several other high profile jobs throughout the Southeast.
In the coming days, we'll take a look at other recent Brasfield & Gorrie projects that have led to controversy and litigation.
Lawsuit Filed Over Allegiance Port-a-John Accident
June 18, 2012
As reported in the April 9, 2012 update below, Allegiance Crane & Equipment was involved in an accident at the Bellini Williams Island construction site in Aventura, FL.
According to an Aventura Police Report we obtained, an Allegiance crane was lowering Port-a-Johns from the upper floors of the structure when one broke loose and struck a worker on the ground.
The injured worker, a leased employee of Commercial Forming Corp. South, has filed a lawsuit in Miami-Dade Circuit Court. According to the complaint, the plaintiff suffered severe injuries when Allegiance "negligently and carelessly" dropped a 400 pound Port-a-John on him. The plaintiff asks for a judgment and damages against both Allegiance and the crane operator.
The defendants have not yet answered the complaint. Further developments in this case will be posted on this site.
Roundup: Beyel and CraneWorks
May 24, 2012
Litigation Update: Beyel Wants $66,600 Judgment Against Troops Charity
As reported in several previous updates, Beyel Brothers has sued Support the Troops, a charity that sends care packages to troops stationed overseas, in a dispute over dockage fees. The charity's boat has been removed from Beyel's former facility at Cape Canaveral, and Beyel has filed a Motion for Summary Judgment asking for a $66,000 judgment from the court.
Steve Beyel gave an Affidavit in the case, claiming that he offered the troops charity a couple of days free dockage, followed by a standard rate of $2 per square foot per day (previous filings by Support the Troops claim that Beyel offered free dockage as a charitable gesture). According to Steve Beyel's statement, at one point Beyel refused to release the vessel to a third party engaged by the charity because of that third party's "questionable business reputation."
More details, and copies of court filings, are available on our Beyel v. King page.
CraneWorks Accused of Unauthorized Credit Card Charges
This case began as a run of the mill business dispute – CraneWorks sued a small Alabama contractor for $18,753 for alleged unpaid rental fees and damages to equipment (a Skid Steer and bucket). But in an unexpected twist, defendant Ralph Williams has countersued both CraneWorks and Turner Services over alleged unauthorized charges to his credit card.
Williams claims that he provided a credit card number as part of a routine credit application, but never authorized CraneWorks to charge the card. According to Williams' counterclaim, after he instructed his credit card company to deny further charges by CraneWorks, the company "even attempted a subterfuge by trying to run the charges through American Express' system different 'merchant number' from that used with the original charges. Williams and American Express were able to get those charges reversed and/or declined, but the fact remains that CraneWorks, without any authorization ever obtained from Williams, charged Williams tens of thousands of dollars on Williams' credit card in connection with a lease transaction (the Turner-CraneWorks lease) as to which Williams was not a party and had no financial responsibility."
CraneWorks has filed an answer denying Williams' claims. Case filings are available on our CraneWorks v. Turner page.
New Property Tax Year, New Delinquencies for Beyel
May 15, 2012
Payments for 2011 property tax bills were due throughout Florida on April 1, and Florida tax assessors are preparing for delinquent tax deed auctions in June.
Beyel Brothers has stayed true to its pattern of falling behind on its property tax payments with the passing of the new tax year. Current the company is delinquent or late on a total tax bill of $347,278. This amount covers 18 separate parcels spread among five Florida counties, for both real estate and tangible property accounts.
Incredibly, it appears that Beyel is not current on any property tax account in the state of Florida. In our comprehensive search of Beyel properties in Brevard, Orange, Polk, St. Lucie and West Palm Beach counties, we were unable to find a single property tax payment made by the company in 2012.
Our Beyel Property page has been updated with new information on the company's holdings and tax delinquencies.
Ceco Discrimination Suits – Two to Arbitration, Two Continue
May 3, 2012
Ceco Concrete was hit with four federal lawsuits alleging age and race discrimination in 2011. Two of these cases have been sent to arbitration, while the other two continue to move through the court system:
Black v. Ceco – the plaintiff accuses Ceco of "systematically" terminating the employment of workers over 50 and replacing them with workers in their 20s and 30s. A trial date has been set for December 2012.
Manning v. Ceco – the court has ordered that this racial discrimination case be stayed pending arbitration. The parties are filing monthly arbitration progress reports with the court.
Moton v. Ceco – this racial discrimination case was dismissed and will go to arbitration. The court found that the plaintiff's claim was a "covered claim" under a Mediation and Arbitration Policy Acknowledgment Sheet he signed as a Ceco employee.
Sims v. Ceco – as with the Manning and Moton cases, Sims alleges that Ceco "racially segregated its workforce into Black and Non-Black crews" and "regularly assigned more work assignments to the Non-Black concrete finishing crew. Thus, plaintiff's pay was reduced." The court ruled against Ceco's motion to dismiss, finding that the plaintiff signed an arbitration agreement with Craftsman Contractors, but not with Ceco, which took over Craftsman in 2005. The case is proceeding, and Sims has filed an amended complaint.
More details, and copies of case filings, are available on our Ceco Concrete Profile page.
Music City General Contractor Fined $4,500 Over Fall
April 24, 2012
As reported in the February 24, 2012 update below, a glazier suffered a serious fall at Nashville's Music City Center construction site, falling through a grate and into an underground parking garage.
The Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration (TOSHA) has issued an initial fine of $4,500 against Bell/Clark Construction, the joint venture between Bell & Associates Construction and Clark Construction. TOSHA's open investigation report has found that Bell/Clark committed one serious violation of fall protection standards.
The fall victim was employed by subcontractor Enclos, a North Carolina based specialty contractor known for designing and constructing glass facades. While news reports at the time of the accident claimed the worker fell as far as 40 feet, the TOSHA investigation file puts the fall at 27 feet.
Nashville's WSMV-TV has posted a brief article and more detailed video report on the TOSHA action.
New Details on Allegiance Houston Fire
Firefighter was Injured Battling Blaze
April 23, 2012
We have obtained the official Houston Fire Department Report on the arson at Allegiance Crane's Houston yard, which severely damaged a Liebherr crawler.
According to the report, the fire department responded to an alarm shortly after 2:00 AM on Saturday, March 31. Thirteen personnel responded, and the department estimates the property damages as $2,000,000.
Further, the report states that the crane boom fell and injured one of the firefighters, but provides no details other than the firefighter was transported from the scene by an EMS unit. The cause of the fire is listed as "under investigation," but the narrative in the report makes clear that arson investigators were on the scene.
As previously reported, Allegiance Crane is offering a reward for information on this incident. See the recent updates below for more details, and photos of the damaged crane.
Houston Yard Arson: Allegiance Offers $7,500 Reward
April 11, 2012
Allegiance Crane & Equipment is offering a reward of $7,500 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of an arsonist who set fire to a Liebherr crawler in the company's Houston, TX yard.
As reported in the April 3 update below, the arsonist set fire to this Allegiance crane during the weekend of March 30 – April 1:
Although the reward notice is not on Allegiance stationary and does not identify the company by name, it was attached to an email from a high ranking company executive that was forwarded to us. It is unclear where these reward notices are being posted.
Any further information will be posted on this site.
Allegiance Crane Accident at Bellini Williams Island Site
April 9, 2012
A signalman was seriously injured last week when an Allegiance tower crane dumped part of a load on him at the Bellini Williams Island construction site in Aventura, FL.
According to an Aventura Police Report we obtained, the crane was lowering two full Porta Johns from the upper floors of the structure when one broke loose and struck the worker. The signalman suffered at least a compound leg fracture, and was flown to the Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami.
Sources on the jobsite report that the victim's injuries were possibly more serious than just a broken leg, resulting in the victim being airlifted to a trauma center 17 miles away in Miami. Aventura Hospital is just three miles from the accident site.
We have heard two different stories on the cause of the accident. Some have reported that a faulty hook and/or rigging caused the load to drop. Others have told us that the load was swinging as it was being lowered and struck the signalman, causing the Porta John to fall off.
According to the police report, both OSHA and the Miami-Dade County Fire and Rescue department were on the scene. We are working to obtain reports from both agencies, and will post any further information we find.
Click the thumbnails below to see photos of Allegiance cranes – and Porta Johns – at the Bellini jobsite.
Burned Crane Spotted in Allegiance Houston Yard
April 3, 2012
We are investigating reports of an arson at Allegiance Crane & Equipment's Houston, TX yard this past weekend. According to several sources, police were on the scene Saturday after a fire severely damaged a Liebherr crawler:
It appears the crane's boom collapsed as a result of the fire. The damaged crane is clearly visible from the street outside of Allegiance's yard. Click on the thumbnails below to enlarge the photos.
Further developments will be posted on this site. Readers with information on this situation can anonymously email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call us at 1-877-272-4514.
Trustee, Kyle Lewis Settle Lawsuit (Again)
March 30, 2012
As reported in the February 9, 2012 update below, the Trustee in the Lewis Equipment bankruptcy case asked a federal judge to enforce the settlement agreement reached in a case against company founder Kyle Lewis. The Trustee claimed that Kyle Lewis refused to sign a judgment that had been agreed to in October 2011.
Kyle Lewis admitted he would not sign an Agreed Judgment of $4.7 million, claiming he was a "helpless victim" of other legal maneuvering by the trustee. According to Lewis, Citibank threatened to sue him unless the Trustee dropped a claim against the bank for $116,193. This amount was allegedly transferred from a Citibank account to Kyle Lewis shortly before his company filed for bankruptcy.
Earlier this month the Trustee dropped his case against Citibank, claiming that "After careful negotiation, the parties reached a settlement of all matters at issue in this adversary, executed settlement documents and Defendant paid all settlement funds due thereunder."
Yesterday a signed Agreed Judgment was entered in the Trustee v. Kyle Lewis case. The $4.7 million plus interest effectively ends the last pending lawsuit against Kyle Lewis in the US. As previously reported, Lewis faces approximately $11 million in judgments resulting from five separate lawsuits (see October 13, 2011 below for details).
Congressional Hearing on Orlando VA Hospital Delays
March 28, 2012
Yesterday the US House Veterans Affairs Committee held a hearing on the construction delays plaguing the Orlando VA Medical Center, a $665 million veteran's hospital project.
As reported in our February 28, 2012 update below, recent Orlando Sentinel articles placed the blame on unspecified "contractor problems," project mismanagement, incomplete design drawings, delays in ordering medical equipment, roof leaks and wiring problems. US Congressman John Mica also cited "trouble with the work force" as another issue.
But at yesterday's hearing, Miller Gorrie, Chairman of the Board of Brasfield & Gorrie, placed 100% of the blame on the VA. Gorrie's testimony focuses solely on the design and equipment issues. Gorrie apparently did not address the immigration raid of February 2011 and other previously reported jobsite problems -- see our February 16 and 17, 2011 updates at the bottom of this page for more details. An official from the VA did mention "contractor performance" as one issue, testifying that "construction quality and manpower issues have also significantly affected the project timeline."
Brasfield & Gorrie, the VA and several other parties are defendants in a federal lawsuit filed by Chatham Steel Corporation of Georgia. According to the suit, filed under the Miller Act provisions on bonding requirements for federal projects, Brasfield & Gorrie subcontractor Florida Aluminum and Steel of Ft. Myers, FL has failed to pay for almost $300,000 of steel products fabricated for a parking garage and warehouse at the hospital site.
According to exhibits attached to the complaint, it appears that the VA is not the only party that has had problems with the design stages of the project. An email from lead defendant Florida Aluminum and Steel to plaintiff Chatham Steel admits to a "horrible error" in ordering steel beams (see pages 19-20 of the exhibits):
Chatham's complaint alleges that it fabricated at least $40,000 worth of steel beams that were "ordered but undelivered." These presumably were the wrong sized beams ordered by Florida Aluminum and Steel.
Further developments on this case, and on the VA hospital project, will be reported on this site.
Roundup: General Crane, Beyel, Ceco
March 19, 2012
Last week General Crane's trustee sought the court's approval of settlements in three of its adversary proceedings filed last year against Cy Fair Tire & Service Co., G&K Services Co., and Motion Industries Inc. The liquidating trust stands to gain an additional $6,750 if the court grants approval. However, this is only 26% of the $26,350.10 sought in the trustee's three initial complaints.
Beyel filed an amended motion to compel in its suit against Support Our Troops on March 7th, one week before its extended lease at Port Canaveral was scheduled to expire. At that point, the charity's vessel continued to be docked at Beyel's facility despite posting bond on January 25th. Then last week Beyel filed a motion withdrawing its amended motion as the vessel was being readied for tow from its dock.
Earlier this month a former employee filed a federal lawsuit against Ceco Concrete in Miami, Florida for unpaid overtime wages. The employee claims that he worked as a "carpenter assistant" an average of 60 hours a week for three months last year without being paid proper overtime wages. He is seeking $3,900 in unpaid wages, plus an additional $3,900 in liquidated damages and attorney's fees.
Job: Janitor/Equipment Operator/Toilet Scrubber/Supervisor
March 7, 2012
Nashville's Convention Center Authority, which oversees both the current Convention Center and its replacement, the Music City Center, has engaged Cushion Employer Services to conduct a compensation study. Cushion will make recommendations on staffing, pay, benefits and other issues for the Music City Center.
Based on a job posting for a position at the Convention Center, we can see why the Authority might need a consultant's help. The job calls for a janitor, operating engineer and manager all in one, has lousy hours and pays only $10.93 per hour:
Immediate Opening. Responsibilities include: set-up/dismantling of convention space; general maintenance labor in connection to building maintenance, including sweeping, mopping, washing walls and windows, cleaning restrooms, emptying trash containers, etc. Assist in direction of temporary labor. Knowledge of the techniques and procedures used in setting public events; ability to operate motorized equipment, such as a forklift; and ability to analyze set-up plans and make modifications. Salary: $10.93/hour. Excellent Benefits included.
Since the Authority is getting professional advice as the employer, we wanted to pass along some advice to applicants:
If you are the sole provider for a family of four, look for a higher paying job. This one puts you below the federal poverty level.
Get in good with the Mayor (like Cushion Employer Services). Cushion co-owner Pam Martin was a member of Mayor Karl Dean's transition team, and has been appointed by Dean to boards and commissions. Her husband Bill Martin, with whom she owns Cushion, was appointed by Dean to the Nashville Airport Authority (although he only served half his term). The Martins donated $1,000 each to Karl Dean in 2011.
Pay your taxes on time (unlike Cushion Employer Services). The help wanted ad claims that "background checks will be conducted for all positions." If a background check was done on Cushion Employer Services, somehow it missed that the business experts were nailed by the IRS for federal tax liens of $7,727.99 and $10,414.88 in recent years. You probably won't be so lucky.
Unless you are Ken Levitan, you will be fired for missing work 83% of the time. Dean appointee Ken Levitan, a country music industry executive and Dean donor, is supposed to be serving on the Authority's Marketing and Operations Committee, which oversees the compensation study among other important duties. But according to the Committee's online meeting minutes, Levitan has missed 6 of the 7 meetings the Committee has held since the beginning of 2011. He last attended a meeting in October 2011, which was the first one he attended since September 2010.
Beyel to Cease Port Canaveral Operations
February 29, 2012
According to a recent court filing by Beyel Brothers, the company is shutting down its operations at Port Canaveral. We have been reporting on Beyel's on-going litigation with the charity Support Our Troops over dockage fees for a damaged vessel. In an emergency Motion to Compel Beyel asked the court to order Support Our Troops to remove the vessel from their dock before February 29th, when their lease with the Port of Canaveral expires. The lease "will not be renewed," and failure to move the vessel would cause problems for all parties involved.
In response to Beyel's filing the court ordered Support Our Troops to show the arrangements made to move the vessel prior to the lease's expiration or why the vessel should not be returned to Beyel, the previously appointed substitute custodian, or another custodian.
Support Our Troops argues that it agreed to have a salvage company tow the vessel, but that there is currently an order issued by the Captain of the Port preventing it from departing until a Certificate of Financial Responsibility (COFR) is obtained. While the COFR has been approved, the National Pollution Control Center still needs to receive the proper insurance documents from an agent and instruct the Coast Guard to lift the order. The charity also alleges that the Beyel was subcontracted the job through Mobro Marine to move the vessel, and then informed Mobro that it could not do the job because it fired its tug captain. After hiring a new captain Beyel tried to secure the job again and then changed its mind based on legal advice.
Construction Delay May Lead To Congressional Investigation
February 28, 2012
Construction delays have pushed back the opening of the massive VA Medical Center project in Lake Nona, FL from October 2012 to the summer of 2013. The finger pointing and buck passing has begun, and a US Congressman is calling for an investigation.
The Orlando area project is a $665 million, 1.2 million square feet medical complex designed to provide services to veterans in six Central Florida counties. One year ago we reported on an immigration raid and protests at the site – see the February 16 and 17, 2011 updates below. Brasfield & Gorrie, the general contractor, was implicated in the immigration raid, according to a police report we obtained at the time. Beyel Brothers and other crane rental companies that undercut area standards have worked on the project.
According to recent articles in the Orlando Sentinel, the delays are caused by a variety of problems – unspecified "contractor problems," project mismanagement, incomplete design drawings, delays in ordering medical equipment needed before certain rooms can be finished, roof leaks and wiring problems. US Congressman John Mica also cited "trouble with the work force" as another issue.
Several members of the Florida Congressional delegation are demanding answers. Rep. Mica has asked the US House Committee on Veteran's Affairs to investigate. Committee Chairman Rep. Jeff Miller promised to hold an oversight hearing in the "very near future." Documents provided to Miller's office indicate that Brasfield & Gorrie was directed by the VA to suspend some construction during 11 of 16 months since being awarded the job in August 2010.
The articles show officials distancing themselves from the problems:
"I need to explain that this isn't our hospital until it's done," said Courtney Franchio, spokeswoman for the VA Medical Center. "The VA Department out of D.C. handles the building. It's not ours until it provides health care. We don't want to get in the weeds with those details."
Timothy Liezert, director of the new VA Medical Center, pointed out that "we are still able to provide inpatient care to our veterans through community hospitals and other VA facilities in the state."
The full articles are linked below:
Music City Worker Falls 40 Feet; Charity Answers Beyel Suit
February 24, 2012
Music City Center
A worker at Nashville's Music City Center construction site suffered a serious fall yesterday afternoon. The victim was working on a glass curtain wall at ground level when a grate below him gave way. He fell about 40 feet into an underground garage area.
The worker was transported to Vanderbilt University Medical Center. His injuries are called serious but not life-threatening.
The worker was employed by subcontractor Enclos, a North Carolina based specialty contractor known for designing and constructing glass facades.
Nashville's WSMV Channel 4 has an article and video report on the accident.
As reported in several January 2012 updates below, Beyel Brothers sued Support Our Troops, a charity that sends care packages to troops overseas, in a dispute over a damaged vessel docked at Beyel's facility at Port Canaveral. According to filings in the suit and media accounts, the charity believed that Beyel was donating its services in storing the ship. When Support Our Troops refused to pay a $53,210 bill it alleges was a surprise, Beyel sued in federal court.
The parties agreed that Beyel would release the vessel and that Support Our Troops would pay $75,000 to the court clerk as security while the dispute was resolved. Now Support Our Troops has filed a Motion to Strike portions of Beyel's Complaint, and a full Answer to the Complaint.
The new filings make the argument that Support Our Troops never had a contract with Beyel, and never consented to paying Beyel for any services.
Court Filing: Kyle Lewis a "Helpless Victim"
February 9, 2012
Since late 2009 Kyle Lewis has been forcibly removed as the head of Lewis Equipment, had his Texas mansion foreclosed, was hit with $11 million in judgments and saw his crane company completely disappear through repossessions and auctions.
In October 2011 it appeared that two years of legal activity against Kyle Lewis would end with a settlement agreement between Lewis and the bankruptcy trustee in the Lewis Equipment case. But as reported in the January 25, 2012 update below, the trustee has asked the court to enforce the settlement agreement, claiming that Kyle Lewis is not complying with its terms.
In a response to the trustee's motion, Kyle Lewis readily admits that he will not sign an Agreed Judgment as required by the settlement agreement, claiming he is a "helpless victim" of other legal maneuvering by the trustee.
As we reported in a September 21, 2011 update, the bankruptcy trustee has filed 22 adversary cases seeking to recoup over $1.3 million in payments made both before and after Lewis' bankruptcy petition was filed. One of these cases was filed against Citibank over the alleged transfer of $116,193.14 from a Lewis account shortly before the bankruptcy filing.
According to Kyle Lewis, Citibank is threatening to sue him unless the trustee drops the claim against Citibank. Therefore he is a "helpless victim" caught in the middle of the dispute, and asks the court to not enforce the settlement agreement "until and unless the Trustee dismisses the Citibank" complaint.
A hearing on this matter has been scheduled for February 15.
Follow up on Allegiance Accident
February 8, 2012
As reported last week, an Allegiance Crane & Equipment Liebherr crawler was involved in an accident during construction of a charter school in downtown Hollywood, FL. CraneWatchdog personnel visited the site yesterday. According to sources on the jobsite and our own observations:
In last week's incident, the crane tipped forward and the end of the jib smacked into the middle of the street. Because the crane was shock loaded, a third-party inspector was called in. The inspector found that the fan section of the Liebherr is damaged and must be replaced. But Allegiance does not have another fan section handy, and is shipping one to Florida from their yard in Houston, TX.
The damaged crawler was out of commission for a couple of days. It is now working in conventional mode, with the boom only, minus the jib. Allegiance has brought in another crane, an LTM 1120, to work on the far side of the school project while the damaged crawler crane is repaired. A street that was open to traffic last week had to be closed down to give the second crane room to work.
So far there does not appear to be a consensus on the exact cause of last week's accident, but speculation has focused on the configuration of the crane as it boomed down for the night. We will report on any further developments.
The photos below were taken at the jobsite yesterday:
Allegiance Crane Collapses in Hollywood, FL
February 2, 2012
Last night the boom on an Allegiance Crane & Equipment Liebherr came crashing down on 17th Street in downtown Hollywood, FL.
Although it was working in a tight spot, next to an apartment building, the boom collapsed in the middle of the street. There were no injuries, and damages were limited to the crane itself and to the pavement.
Allegiance was working on the construction of the Hollywood Academy of Arts & Science, a charter school being built by JJW Construction of Ft. Lauderdale. The $20 million project broke ground last month, and the school is scheduled to open in August 2012. The school is a replacement for the current Hollywood Academy, which is next door to the accident scene.
Sources on the scene took the photos below immediately after the accident (they were taken at night, some with a cell phone camera, so while the quality is not great, the problem is obvious):
CraneWatchdog personnel in Florida returned to the scene this morning. The accident has been cleared up, although the damage to the crane and to the street can be seen in the photos below:
We happened to visit this jobsite earlier this week, before the accident, and took the photos below:
The accident was first reported by TV station WPLG Channel 10, which showed the boom in the middle of the street. The Sun Sentinel newspaper posted a story on the accident this morning, which includes a video. Any further information will be posted on this site.
Roundup: Music City, Beyel
January 26, 2012
Music City Center
As reported in a December 20, 2011 update, IUOE Local 369 prevailed in its lawsuit against the Music City Center Authority. We received a copy of the written decision that found the Authority is required to provide unredacted certified payrolls, including employee home addresses, to IUOE Local 369 on or before February 15, 2012. There is no indication whether the Music City Center Authority will appeal the ruling.
Beyel v. Support Our Troops
According to a federal court filing, Support Our Troops will regain possession of the two vessels currently being held by Beyel Brothers. The parties have agreed that Support Our Troops will pay $75,000 to the court clerk as security for release of the vessels. They also seek expedited consideration of the filing since a tug is standing by to remove the vessels from Beyel's property tomorrow, January 27, 2012.
Trustee Asks to Enforce $4.7 Million Lewis Judgment
January 25, 2012
Despite agreeing to a settlement on the adversary proceeding initiated by the bankruptcy trustee, Kyle Lewis is refusing to go along with its terms. As reported in an October 27, 2011 update, the court approved the settlement over the objections of Lewis creditors SL Financial Services Corp. and Frost National Bank. The terms included the entry of a $4.7 million judgment against Kyle Lewis.
According to the motion filed by the trustee earlier this month, Lewis is refusing to execute and deliver the judgment according to the settlement's terms. He is now seeking the court's help to force Lewis to comply.
In other Lewis bankruptcy news, the court has settled the dispute over the Lewis Crane of Nevada bank account in possession of Wells Fargo. An order was issued earlier this month directing Wells Fargo to surrender the funds in the account to Frost National Bank; however, Wells Fargo is authorized to deduct the amount of its legal fees from these funds.
Roundup: Beyel, Music City
January 13, 2012
Beyel Lawsuit Against Support the Troops
Beyel's lawsuit against an all-volunteer charity that sends care packages to troops stationed overseas is getting more media attention and appears to be a hot topic in some social media circles. Click here for one example, which includes a video interview with Support the Troops founder Bob Williams.
We heard from Mr. Williams, who claims that Beyel's actions amount to "modern day piracy." Mr. Williams told us that he had a "handshake deal" with Beyel, who he believed was making a charitable gesture to support his non-profit's cause. According to Mr. Williams:
"In December the hand of friendship from Beyel Brothers turned into absolute greed. I have no issue with paying a fair amount for being tied at their dock but am at a loss on how a company can be allowed to go from offering a helping hand to stealing the property of a nonprofit in this way.
I have been sending boxes to the troops for 30 years and have never encountered anyone in any capacity or any company that wanted to hurt our efforts. Their actions will mean thousands of boxes will not get sent to our men and women protecting their very right to have a business in our great nation."
Flooding in Thailand Causes Music City Center Delays…?
According to an article in Nashville's Tennessean newspaper, the Music City Center convention hall has lost two and possibly three major bookings due to an expected delay in its opening, currently scheduled for April 2013. One group backed out even though its annual meeting was scheduled for June 2013. According to the article, the delays are caused by a "series of setbacks, including flooding in Thailand that has delayed the manufacture of carpet for Music City Center."
The Music City Center is a $600 million public project sold to Nashville residents as a local stimulus package. But Mayor Karl Dean broke his promise that a "vast majority" of workers would be local residents, and 82% of contract dollars have gone to companies headquartered outside of Tennessee…though we are not sure if this figure includes Thai carpet manufacturers.
Beyel Files Lawsuit Against Troops Charity Co-Founder
January 12, 2012
Yesterday we reported on a Tampa Bay Times article concerning a $53,210 bill Beyel Brothers charged to Support Our Troops founder Bob Williams. Further investigation revealed that Beyel filed a lawsuit in federal court concerning the same issue on January 10th against James King, the co-founder of another charity serving the troops.
James King and his wife, Karin, founded Treats for Troops to provide care packages, including home-baked cookies and toiletries, to our troops. In 2008, Treats for Troops partnered with Bob Williams and his charity, Support Our Troops. Together they send 24 tons of care packages each month. Florida watercraft records show that the 165-foot ship donated to Support Our Troops is registered to James King.
Beyel's complaint alleges that a company representative and a King representative agreed to the "discounted" dockage rate of $2 per foot per day for the 165-foot ship and a 70-foot yacht, which was not mentioned in the Tampa Bay Times article. According to the exhibits attached to the complaint Steve Beyel was the salesperson on the transaction and the order was placed by Bob Williams, founder of Support Our Troops.
In addition to the dockage fees for the two boats (totaling $38,070) Beyel also charged $260 per day (totaling $12,220) for daily inspections and supervision. Not only is Beyel seeking this $50,290, plus interest, but also a salvage award for services the company allegedly provided to prevent the 165-foot ship from sinking at its dock and a lien on the 70-foot yacht.
While Beyel Brothers claims to support our troops on its Facebook page, this support apparently does not extend to charities providing services to our brave men and women serving overseas.
Paper: Troops Charity Surprised by Beyel Bill
January 11, 2012
During the holiday season many of us kept our troops stationed abroad in our thoughts – apparently so did Beyel Brothers. Last month the owner of Support Our Troops, Inc. received a $53,210 bill from the company for three months of dockage fees on a 163-foot ship that was donated to the charity.
Through his charity Support Our Troops, Bob Williams, a retired business owner and Vietnam veteran, sends over 200 care packages to U.S. troops stationed overseas each week. These boxes contain everyday items we take for granted, like coffee and toiletries, that are not readily accessible in places troops are stationed, like Afghanistan and Iraq. While the items are donated by generous companies and individuals, Williams uses his own funds and donations from the community to pay for postage. With postage rates of approximately $1 per pound, the charity spends hundreds of thousands of dollars on providing our troops with the comforts of home.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, approximately eight months ago two boats were donated to Support Our Troops, which Williams planned to take to Haiti to establish a ship-painting school that would earn money to defray some the charity's costs. After engine issues stranded one of the ships off the Canaveral coast a Beyel representative expressed the company's willingness to help and that there would be no problem with docking the ship at their yard. Williams believed this to be a gracious offer made because of his charitable efforts. Beyel had other ideas, charging $2 per foot of boat per day in dockage fees without Williams' knowledge.
Unable to pay the $53,210 bill, Williams is now on the verge of losing the boat to Beyel. He claims he has made 26 calls to Beyel Brothers, all of which have been unreturned.
Mack Wins $88,613 Judgment Against Jason Retterath
January 11, 201
In the past several months we have reported on:
- A $350,233 judgment against Steven Retterath won by Wells Fargo (currently being appealed, see December 7, 2011 below)
- $11 million in judgments against Kyle Lewis (see October 13, 2011);
- A $4.7 million judgment against Jim Robertson and Jason Retterath by Wells Fargo (see October 3, 2011);
- A $10 million judgment against Steve Zeiger won by People's Bank (see August 8, 2011).
Now Mack Financial adds to this list with an $88,613 default judgment against Jason Retterath. As originally reported June 14, 2011 below, Mack sued Jim Robertson and Jason Retterath, the former co-owners of General Crane, alleging that they personally guaranteed a defaulted loan for six Mack trucks. Although Jim Robertson has filed an answer and otherwise defended himself, Jason Retterath has never made an appearance in the case. The case against Robertson remains pending.
See our Mack v. Robertson and Retterath page for more details on the case.
Allegiance's Second Lawsuit Filed in Texas
January 9, 2012
In October Cranewatchdog reported on the first lawsuit filed against Allegiance Crane & Equipment; today, we bring you information on the second.
Allegiance was hired by Americrane under a subcontract to supply a crane and an operator for the move of a building onto an existing slab. As the building was being moved the crane lost its balance, causing the crane operator to drop it more than five feet.
Ransor, Inc., the construction provider that hired Americrane, sued Allegiance in Travis County, Texas for the damages it incurred resulting from "faulty operation of the crane." The complaint states that Allegiance held itself out as a "competent, dependent, and loyal" company with the ability to move the building safely. However, the services that were ultimately provided by Allegiance "did not conform to the character and quality" required by the contract.
For unknown reasons Ransor released Allegiance from the lawsuit less than a month after it was filed but not before Allegiance filed an answer in which it denied all of the allegations made by Ransor. In its answer Allegiance also moved for a change of venue to Colorado County, Texas, where the incident actually occurred. There is no indication the case has been re-filed there. We will continue to monitor this case for further developments.
Allegiance Owner Prophet Equity Sued Over Acquisition
January 5, 2012
As reported in previous updates, General Crane's assets were purchased out of bankruptcy by Allegiance Crane & Equipment, LCC, a new crane company majority-owned by Prophet Equity and managed by Jim Robertson. Prophet Equity, a Texas-based private equity firm, specializes in the turnaround of "distressed' businesses.
In November 2011, three separate lawsuits were filed in connection with one of Prophet Equity's recently acquired companies, Cummings Signs. Prophet Equity purchased Cummings' assets out of foreclosure and formed a new entity, Cummings Resources, to operate the business in the future. All three of suits filed allege breach of contract following Prophet Equity's takeover of Cummings.
LK Finance, a Tennessee consulting firm, alleges that Cummings has not only failed to pay the company according to the contract terms, but also informed the company that it does not plan to pay any of the amount owed. A leaseholder on properties rented by Cummings in Tennessee and Alabama, CP Alabama, alleges that Cummings has not paid rent or utilities since the start of the lease in April 2011. Thus far, Cummings owes $28,766.44 in utilities.
Lastly, Stephen Kerr, the former President of Cummings Signs, is suing Cummings Resources, Prophet Equity, and Prophet Equity principal Brian Hegi. Kerr alleges that he discussed his employment terms with Prophet Equity a number of times and was assured that he would remain at Cummings for at least 4 years. Relying on those discussions he signed a non-compete agreement. Kerr was fired less than three months after Prophet Equity's acquisition of Cummings. More details on this litigation, and on Allegiance, Robertson and Prophet Equity, will be posted in the upcoming Allegiance Crane section of this website.