One of Texas’ biggest contractors, Dallas-based Rogers-O’Brien Construction, claims it is owed $34 million by Microsoft Corp. for work on a problem-plagued new data center project in San Antonio.
The company made the claim in a lawsuit filed June 3 in federal district court in San Antonio. It blames Microsoft and an unnamed designer and vendors for failing to help correct the troubles. Microsoft has yet to answer with a reply to the complaint and a spokesman for the company could not be reached for comment.
Of the $34 million sought, $13.6 million is retainage, according to the lawsuit.
Much of that total is likely owed to small companies that may be project subcontractors and have also filed numerous liens in connection with their work. Rogers-O’Brien’s lien, filed in March, is the largest.
Among other liens filed with the Clerk of Bexar County, Texas are ones filed by Pesado Construction, Schertz, Texas, for $87,000, and one filed by Greater Metroplex Interiors Inc., Southlake, Texas, saying it is owed $310,000.
Across the U.S., lien filings jumped sharply higher in March, up 40% from January’s level, according to Levelset, a payment services software company. Following a survey of 540 businesses in 2020’s first quarter, Levelset described the construction industry’s attitude toward slow payment, and the costs and uncertainty it brings, as one of acceptance of the status quo.
The San Antonio Express-News reported that Microsoft purchased the data center project site in 2015.
Rogers-O’Brien does not state the value of its original contract with Microsoft, signed in October 2017. Since then, design errors hindered progress on the work and Microsoft failed to respond to repeated requests to intervene, Rogers-O’Brien claims. Even as work fell further behind schedule with problems aggravated by water intrusion and defective software, the software giant remained uncooperative in solving the problems, according to the lawsuit.
One water intrusion event in June 2019 required an additional server buss replacement, Rogers-O'Brien claimed.
The contractor’s lawsuit does not describe the scope and responsibilities outlined in its contract other than saying that Microsoft retained responsibility for the performance of vendors. The suit states that some details of the claim will be submitted to the court under seal, an indication that a non-disclosure agreement may have been part of contractual terms.