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Lineworks Engineering, LLC v. Aerial Surveying, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division

June 29, 2015

LINEWORKS ENGINEERING, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
AERIAL SURVEYING, INC., Defendant.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

HARWELL G. DAVIS, III, District Judge.

The above-entitled civil action is before the court on the Motion to Remand filed by plaintiff. (Doc. 6). This matter was removed from the Circuit Court of Jefferson County by defendant, Aerial Surveying Inc. (ASI) on October 14, 2014. Defendant asserts that there is complete diversity of citizenship between the parties and that the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000, in compliance with 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). (Doc. 1, Notice of Removal). A motion to remand was filed by plaintiff, Lineworks Engineering, LLC (Lineworks) on November 19, 2014, asserting that the amount in controversy reflected on the face of the complaint does not exceed the jurisdictional amount of $75, 000. (Doc. 6, Motion to Remand).

I. The Complaint

The complaint sets out five separate counts as plaintiff's bases for relief. In summary, the complaint reflects that in early 2013, Lineworks was hired by a non-party, Maui Electric Company, Inc. (MECO), to provide engineering consulting and design services for several of its transmission lines, including a ground survey and an aerial LiDAR[1] survey of 33 miles of transmission lines. Lineworks and MECO agreed that Lineworks would subcontract the ground and aerial surveys. (Doc. 1, Complaint, at ¶ 3). In August 2013, Lineworks retained two Hawaiian companies to perform the surveys. It retained ASI for the aerial LiDAR survey. The other work was to be performed by non-party Austin, Tsutsumi & Associates, Inc. (ATA). ( Id. at ¶ 4).

Lineworks and ASI executed a Subcontrator Master Agreement (SMA) which provided that, in the event of default, the defaulting party would reimburse the non-defaulting party for all costs and expenses reasonably incurred by the non-defaulting party in connection with the default, including attorney fees. ( Id. at ¶ 6(a)). It further provided that any dispute arising out of the SMA or any Work Authorization issued thereunder would be brought in the State of Alabama in a court of competent jurisdiction. ( Id. at ¶ 6(b)).

Subsequently, Lineworks and ASI executed two Work Authorizations under the MSA wherein ASI agreed to provide Lineworks with certain data in particular formats and meeting certain requirements. Lineworks agreed to a flat fee of $1, 900 per mile, for a total cost of $62, 700. The Work Authorizations listed a work begin date of September 16, 2013, and a work completion date of October 15, 2013. ( Id. at ¶ 8). Lineworks, ASI and ATA mutually agreed that ASI would conduct its aerial survey on September 16, 2013, which required ATA to complete its ground survey prior to that date. ATA completed the ground survey on September 4, 2013. ( Id. at ¶ 9).

In order to complete the project, ASI required certain equipment rentals, including a helicopter, helipod, LiDAR equipment and weather stations. ASI agreed to schedule the helicopter, helipod and LiDAR rental equipment, as those costs were included in ASI's quote to Lineworks. Lineworks agreed to schedule the weather station rentals. As a result, Lineworks entered into a rental contract with InterMountain Environmental, Inc. (IME) on September 4, 2013. IME shipped the weather station equipment to Lineworks on September 9, 2013. ( Id. at ¶ 10).

Subsequently, ASI failed to secure the helipod and LiDAR equipment rentals and could not perform the aerial survey on September 16, 2013. Because shipping costs for the weather stations were over $1000, Lineworks kept the stations in Maui rather than return them to IME because they would only have to re-rent them later. Lineworks asserts that ASI's failure to timely procure the helipod delayed the aerial LiDAR survey. According to the complaint, ASI caused further delay of the LiDAR survey because ASI failed to follow an important provision of the SMA, although this defect was rectified by ASI. ( Id. at ¶ 11).

Lineworks and ASI executed revised Work Authorizations to reflect a new work begin date and a new work completion date. The revised begin date was October 7-11, 2011, with a filed completion date of October 11, 2013, and a work completion date of November 15, 2013. ( Id. at ¶ 12).

The revised Work Authorization required ASI to provide Lineworks, by the November 15, 2013, completion date, with geo-referenced orthophotography with a minimum resolution of 1 pixel = 0.25 feet, a properly feature-coded and time-stamped data via CD, DVD or external hard drive, and certain other information. ( Id. at ¶ 13).

On October 3, 2013, ASI billed Lineworks for $25, 080, which was 40% of its overall quoted fee. Lineworks paid this invoice. While ASI performed the LiDAR survey on October 10, 2013, it failed to deliver the data or deliverables to Lineworks on the stated completion date of November 15, 2013. ( Id. at ¶ 14). On December 7, 2013, ASI sent Lineworks a web link to its data files, but the Revised Work Authorization required such data to be submitted via CD, DVD or external hard drive. Likewise, on December 31, 2013, ASI sent Lineworks a screen shot of the LiDAR coverage taken from the previously emailed web link to its data files. However, the Revised Work Authorization required such data to be submitted via CD, DVD or external hard drive. ( Id. at ¶ 15).

In addition, Lineworks alleges that ASI failed to properly format and process the required data despite repeated requests, failed to include proper vectoring of the data as required by the Revised Work Authorization, failed to code the required data despite repeated requests, failed to deliver data at the proper 1 pixel = 0.25 feet resolution, as required, and failed to deliver data with proper measurement units, despite repeated requests. ( Id. at ¶ 16).

Lineworks notified ASI of its defaults under the contract on April 21, 2014, and May 15, 2014. On June 26, 2014, it made a final attempt to resolve its issues with ASI. ( Id. at ¶ 17). Since June 26, 2014, Lineworks has received additional data from ASI, all of which was incomplete or incorrect. Lineworks advised ASI that it intended to terminate the contract for cause on several occasions. ( Id. at ¶ 18). Lineworks asserts that ASI failed to fulfill its obligations under the SMA or Revised Work Order. ( Id. at ¶ 19). As a result, Lineworks claims that it suffered monetary damages and possible loss of goodwill and business reputation from its other business partners, including MECO, due to ASI's failure to complete the work contracted in the SMA and Revised Work Agreement. ( Id. at ¶ 20).

In Count I of its complaint, Lineworks alleges that ASI is liable for negligence, in that it breached its duty to Lineworks by negligently making errors and omitting important features in its performance of its professional abilities as a subcontractor in this industry. ( Id. at ¶ 22). In this count, Lineworks asserts that it has ...


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