The developer of the Walden Galleria and two of its subcontractors have been ordered by a jury to pay two small Syracuse construction companies $10.3 million in damages related to work at a Watertown mall.
Mall developer Pyramid Cos. of Syracuse, the Liverpool engineering firm of Calocerinos & Spina and surveyor David W. Hannig were found to have covered up faulty design work that caused Malcon Developers Inc. and Karame Builders to fall behind schedule on the Salmon Run Mall.
The East Syracuse companies were fired from the job in 1986, and Malcon was forced into bankruptcy a year later. The owners claimed the Watertown job caused the financial problems.
"We're obviously very pleased with the verdict. It was a long time in coming," said John DeFrancisco, counsel for the Syracuse firms.
The bulk of the verdict, $8 million, was in punitive damages, which are designed to punish a defendant for a serious wrong. The jury apportioned 75 percent of the fault to Pyramid, and 12.5 percent of the blame each to Hannig and Calocerinos & Spina.
Efforts to reach Pyramid's attorney were unsuccessful, but DeFrancisco expects an appeal.
Malcon was awarded a $1.1 million contract for site development work for Salmon Run Mall. It based its bid for the work on assumptions, drawn from information provided by Pyramid, that the site could be leveled by moving 668,000 cubic yards of earth.
James, Frank and Michael Malavasi, the brothers who own Malcon and Karame Builders, contend that Malcon had moved about 800,000 cubic yards of dirt and still was not finished, but Pyramid refused to pay for the extra work.
Malcon was fired from the project in April 1986 and Pyramid hired another contractor to move another 138,000 cubic yards of earth at a cost of nearly $1 million.
The defendants' attorneys claimed that Malcon had been given correct engineering and design information to complete the site development by the fall of 1985, but that the small company was not committed to the project and was hurt by early October rains.
Brian Cole, Pyramid's attorney, told jurors that the problem was that Malcon did not replace broken equipment and did not use two shifts of workers until it was too late.
Malcon claimed that drawings and layouts provided by Pyramid subcontractors were flawed, and that the developer and its co-defendants hid the problems.