Demolition Contractor Sued for Failing to Pay

The company hired in the $3.2 demolition of the iconic St. Petersburg, Florida Pier is the target of a lawsuit filed this month that claims it failed to pay a subcontractor on three other jobs and that it bounced a check.

Sonny Glasbrenner Inc. of Clearwater was sued by Harris Ventures, a staffing company based in Georgia. Filed in Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court, the suit alleges that Glasbrenner owed Harris Ventures $151,886 and tried to make a partial payment of $52,660, but the check bounced.

The company’s troubles haven’t been confined to the courthouse. Last week’s high winds destroyed a $15,000 turbidity barrier meant to keep demolition debris from floating into Tampa Bay. Pieces of Styrofoam, large and small, have floated along downtown’s shore ever since.

Pate Clements, Glasbrenner’s president, downplayed both difficulties.

Asked about the lawsuit, Clements replied that it was “part of doing business.”

“There are no hard feelings between us and the vendor,” Clements said. “This was a late payment by a contractor and we have been paid and that vendor has been paid and the lien has been released.”

Specifically, he said, the more than $80,000 owed for a job at Muvico in Ybor City has been paid and the construction lien lifted. Pinellas County records show, however, that another lien for $49,678 related to work at Morton Plant Hospital in Clearwater is still in place. The remaining $22,000 mentioned in the lawsuit is tied to work on Glasbrenner’s property, Clements said. Negotiations are ongoing concerning the bills for the two Pinellas County jobs, he said.

Clements said his company is not using Harris Ventures to staff the Pier demolition and that the project is on schedule. Work with the high reach excavator used to demolish the inverted pyramid had to be put on hold a few days week last week because of the winds, he said.

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