The Recorder interviews Gary Lafayette about defense verdict in the article “Honeywell Loses $10.5M Suit Against City Housing”:
A federal jury on Monday deliberated just two hours before siding with the San Francisco Housing Authority in a $10.5 million suit brought by Honeywell Inc.
The 3-year-old case challenged the housing authority’s contention that Morristown, N.J.-based Honeywell’s contract with the city to make energy-saving improvements to 13 senior housing complexes was invalid. The housing authority said Honeywell did not finance the deal as called for by the then financially strapped institution.
The city won the suit despite Honeywell’s signed contract with the SFHA’s acting executive director and the completion of most of the work, some of which was even certified by the housing authority. … Unlike other cities, in San Francisco the company was asked to finance the project through a third party, which the city would then repay from savings accrued through the improvements.
“The housing authority was in very bad trouble back in 1996,” said Gary Lafayette, SFHA’s lawyer. “This was the only way they could finance it;”
But Honeywell did not secure the required financing and the three-woman, five-man jury found the city’s cancellation of the work was not a breach of contract.
Lafayette said confusion in the months after the HUD takeover led to the certificates of completed work. Honeywell claimed they showed their deal with the SFHA was valid.
Not only was the work done just after the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development took over operation of the authority, but was done amid a round of office layoffs.
“I think it’s one of those things where the right hand is not knowing what the left hand is doing,” Lafayette said. … Then-acting executive director Jon Gresley had signed the contract with Honeywell, but it did not contain the financial provisions outlined in a prior agreement between the two parties. Nor did the SFHA board approve the contract, as required by law. … “It’s all about dotting your I’s and crossing your T’s, Lafayette said.
Excerpted from Hoppin, Jason. “Honeywell Loses $10.5M Suit Against City Housing.” The Recorder. 2 August 2000: n. pag.