Removal of sunken barge in Chicago River spurs suit alleging breach of contract

By Carol Ostrow | Mar 18, 2015

A Lemont company is suing an excavation company over claims it has failed to pay it for help clearing a sunken barge last year from the Chicago River that created a problem for commuters and businesses relying on public river transportation.

Service Welding and Shipbuilding LLC filed suit Feb. 17 in Cook County Circuit Court against Roy Strom Excavating and Grading Co. and its president, Dale L. Brooks.

According to the complaint, Strom was in charge of loading a barge that sank on Aug. 17, 2014 at a Chicago construction site after being laden with clay. The Coast Guard determined the sunken barge prohibited safe passage on the waterway.

With pressure mounting from authorities to act quickly, Strom engaged the plaintiff’s services for equipment and manpower to assist in raising the vessel.

Strom drafted contracts on Oct. 23, 2014 with Service Welding and Shipbuilding, which moved resources to the location and successfully salvaged the barge. Despite repeated invoicing, however, the plaintiff asserts Strom hasn't paid. The plaintiff maintains that the barge is currently docked at its facilities, incurring extra costs.

Service Welding seeks compensatory damages in excess of $500,000, plus attorneys’ fees and costs. It is represented in the case by David Anderson, the company’s general counsel.

Cook County Circuit Court, case no. unspecified.

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