I-4 Ultimate lawsuit: Builder seeks $132 million in damages from partner construction firm

Lane Construction claims to have lost hundreds of millions from I-4 Ultimate Project

ORLANDO, Fla. – One of the three partners of SGL, the trio hired by the Florida Department of Transportation through I-4 Mobility Partners to rebuild 21 miles of I-4, filed a lawsuit Friday in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida Orlando Division suing one of the other firms.

Lane Construction is suing Skanska USA SE for no less than $132 million in damages from Skanska and “a Declaration that Skanska breached its fiduciary duties to SGL and Lane and has been grossly negligent in performing its obligations to SGL” and “a Declaration that Lane is no longer required to make capital contributions or other payments to SGL or Skanska SE.”

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Lane Construction spokesperson Lauralee Heckman said Lane is not seeking damages from FDOT or taxpayers.

Taxpayers are already largely funding the $2.3 billion construction costs of the I-4 Ultimate Project, started in 2015.

Lane claims it suffered “enormous financial losses” -- hundreds of millions of dollars in delays and cost overruns -- which “could have been, and should have been, avoided.”

“At a critical moment, SGL could have triggered a right to exit the Project, which would have cut-off and stemmed the joint venture’s losses,” the lawsuit states. “Lane directed Skanska SE to act in the best interests of SGL by triggering that right, but Skanska SE refused to do so to the detriment of SGL and Lane.”

Lane blames Skanska’s “conflict of interest,” that Skanska’s parent company would continue to profit and recover losses by operating I-4 after completion for the next 40 years.

“SGL’s exit from the Project would have had substantial adverse and potentially long-term financial repercussions to I4MP, and, as a consequence, to Skanska Concessionaire and, from there, up the corporate family tree to Skanska AB (”Skanska Parent”), the ultimate parent corporation of both Skanska SE and Skanska Concessionaire,” the lawsuit states. “Skanska SE’s corporate affiliate, Skanska Infrastructure Development (”Skanska Concessionaire”), owns 50% of I4MP [I-4 Mobility Partners] and, as a result, stands to profit from the long-term operation of the Project.”

News 6 emailed four spokespersons at Skanska SE three times each throughout the day Monday. A response was received Tuesday afternoon.

“Thank you for your inquiry and patience. While it is not Skanska’s policy to comment on pending litigation, the company will say at this time that it refutes the allegations contained in the subject complaint. With respect to the ongoing project, Skanska and SGL Constructors remain fully committed to successfully completing the I-4 Ultimate project as currently planned,” the statement read.

Heckman said Lane will continue to work with Skanska and Granite Construction Company (SGL) to complete the project without any further delays, despite the lawsuit.

FDOT said it would hold SGL accountable for finishing the I-4 Ultimate Project by the end of the year.

“The Florida Department of Transportation does not comment on cases in litigation,” FDOT said in a statement to News 6. ”Secondly, this matter is between outside parties and the litigation does not alter the nature of SGL’s obligation to the department under the contract.”

SGL expected $215 million in profit from the I-4 Ultimate Project but it became clear that “SGL would earn no profit if it completed the Project” and “in fact, SGL would suffer a loss of significant magnitude,” according to the lawsuit.

SGL could terminate the I-4 Ultimate Project contract with FDOT and I-4 Mobility Partners if FDOT caused a delay of 180 days or more, according to the lawsuit, which occurred.

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