Court finds in favor of Ortiz in suit against Mathews Maritime Foundation

by Sherry Hamilton - Posted on Jan 23, 2013 - 01:08 PM

A lawsuit filed by Joe Ortiz of Callinectes Boatworks in Mathews against the Mathews Maritime Foundation was settled in Mathews County Circuit Court on Dec. 12.

The court found that the foundation was in default, since it neither filed an answer nor appeared in court, and that it had breached its $16,500 contract with Ortiz for restoration work on the historic fishing vessel Peggy.

According to court papers, the foundation is liable for all of Ortiz’s expenses, including the contract price, court costs, and 6 percent interest for eight months.

Ortiz filed the suit in January 2012, after a series of communications with the Maritime Foundation in 2011 concerning the contract.

According to an October 2011 Gazette-Journal article, Ortiz, a former board member of the organization for 10 years, had stepped down from his post in order to perform the restoration work without incurring a conflict of interest. He said then that his contract was for $55 an hour plus the cost of materials. After the contract was approved, he said, two board members requested that the board obtain other bids for the project. Once that was done, the board again assigned the job to Ortiz.

However, in May, Ortiz discovered that another boat builder, Eric Hedburg, had begun work on the Peggy. Hedburg’s contract included $31,878 for labor and $15,000 for materials. Ortiz asked that the work be discontinued, that he be compensated the $16,500 contract price for the job, and that the new restoration project manager, George Pongonis, be removed from his position.