Nuns settle claim against contractor BALTIMORE COUNTY

April 09, 1993|By Ed Brandt | Ed Brandt,Staff Writer

The Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart have settled their claim against the contractor they said did poor work while constructing a $3.7 million motherhouse on five acres off the 1000 block of W. Joppa Road.

The Mission Helpers received $775,000 plus a promissory note for $35,000 from Kasco-Chesapeake Builders this week. Kasco also agreed to handle liens placed on the building by several subcontractors who were not paid for their work.

The Mission Helpers hired Kasco to build the motherhouse in 1989 and fired the company two years later when they became dissatisfied with the work. Kasco was allowed to resume several months later but was again dismissed in the fall of 1991. Henry H. Lewis Contractors took over the work, which is not complete.

A three-member board appointed by the American Arbitration Association ruled last April that Kasco must pay the nuns $931,000 -- which included about $90,000 still owed to the subcontractors -- to cover costs the nuns incurred in hiring the second contractor to complete the work.

The sum was adjusted to $912,000. The final total was reached after Kasco agreed to handle the liens and absolve the Mission Helpers of the subcontractor obligations. Charles K. Rosolio, lawyer for Kasco, said his client has started legal action against the subcontractors.

"We're coming out of our tomb," said Sister Danielle Murphy, head of the Towson-based religious order. "We're happy to have some cash in hand and this thing behind us."

The Roman Catholic order was founded in Baltimore in 1890 and moved to Baltimore County in 1923. It includes 130 sisters and does missionary work in Venezuela, Puerto Rico and in several areas of the United States. Thirty to 40 nuns live in the motherhouse on Joppa Road.

The Mission Helpers had cited many flaws in the work, from the floor in the lobby to the air-conditioning system. The roof had to be redone because it was "wavy," Sister Danielle said.

The sisters also were unhappy with the slow pace of construction, which had been far behind schedule. Kasco blamed many of the problems on the nuns, whom the company said interferred with construction and insisted on many changes in specifications.

The arbitration proceedings lasted for a month last fall. Witnesses included engineers, architects and construction and economic experts.

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