The developer of a $30-million sports complex in Juneau County has sued consultants and engineers hired for the project for breach of contract, misrepresentation and negligence the developer claims all led to project delays and added costs.
The 31-page complaint filed in Juneau County Circuit Court by an attorney for the Woodside Sports Complex names Egg Harbor-based H&K Sports Fields, Waukesha-based Midwest Engineering Services and Environmental Systems Technology & Research, based in Brussels, Wis.
The complaint also names executives, principals or employees of each of the companies.
The complicated civil suit - the complaint with attachments runs to 70 pages - stems from a series of alleged agreements in 2009 and 2010 with H&K for planning, financing and marketing of the 200-acre sports complex in the town of Lemonweir a few miles east of Mauston.
Work began last fall at the site, located on the 1,300-acre Woodside Ranch, a popular dude ranch and family attraction.
Virginia Barton, Woodside Ranch general manager, said Friday that work on the sports complex had not stopped. "Only the weather" was impeding work at the site, Barton said.
Woodside Ranch is owned by Damon Zumwalt, CEO and founder of Contemporary Services Corp., which provides security and crowd control for major events from its California headquarters and more than 40 branch locations nationwide.
Two partners, including a former Major League Baseball star, withdrew from the project last year, apparently leaving Zumwalt as the sole principal.
Zumwalt did not immediately respond to a phone message left Friday.
Among other things, the lawsuit claims that H&K agreed to find corporate sponsors and promotional partners for a set fee and 1.5 percent of "the total secured fees between Woodside and the sponsor or partner, ..."
The suit alleges that H&K failed to prepare documents, failed to find funding for the project, failed to communicate with developers or to develop a proposal for potential sponsors or partners.
The complaint also alleges that Woodside followed H&K's recommendation to hire Engineering Services and Environmental Systems Technology & Research (ESTR ) to design and install a wastewater treatment system to meet state Department of Natural Resources' permit requirements.
The suit claims that neither company disclosed that ESTR planned to use a proprietary wastewater system, invented and patented by an ESTR principal, Gaylen LaCrosse, that later failed to meet DNR requirements.
The proprietary system had no track record of approval by state regulators for the planned application and was more expensive than other systems already backed and recommended by the DNR, the complaint alleges.
In addition, the complaint alleges that the companies attempted to hide that the proposed wastewater system had run afoul of DNR regulators and that H&K later incorrectly claimed that the agency had issued the needed permit and that the company had also obtained related loans and grants.
ESTR later allegedly hired Midwest Engineering Services (MES) to assist with obtaining the DNR
permit without notifying Woodside, according to the complaint.
The employee MES assigned to the project, Jeffrey Fischer, had previously surrendered his state license to work as a professional geologist after felony fraud convictions related to the state's Petroleum Environmental Cleanup-up Fund and had no expertise in wastewater systems, the suit claims.
The suit also claims that H&K was negligent in not disclosing that a company executive, Terry Gaouette, had pleaded guilty to falsifying financial records of the Milwaukee Public Museum when he served as a top museum
The suit seeks recovery of money paid to the companies and unspecified damages.
The three companies have filed separate responses in which each denies allegations or presents alternative explanations for events. Gaouette filed a separate response in which he asks for the suit against him to be dismissed.
"Plaintiffs have thrown together a 185-paragraph complaint in an effort to confuse the facts and state claims where none exist," Gaouette's response states.
H&K has also counterclaimed, alleging that Woodside "trumped up" allegations against the company.
When complete, the sports complex will be home to 17 baseball fields, seven multi-use fields, an indoor instructional facility, two dining halls, two arcades and two dormitories.
Woodside officials have said that the sports complex could attract as many as 10,000 people daily during peak summer months.