AUGUSTA — A Gardiner contractor said the state owes it almost half a million dollars for repairing a flooded building at Camp Keyes.

The state refuses to pay, saying it does not have a contract for repairs for flood damages resulting from a loose pipe in the sprinkler system that had been recently installed by the contractor.

The claim is laid out in a civil lawsuit filed last week in Kennebec County Superior Court by ABJ General Contractor Inc., charging breach of contract for new work as well as changed work and failure to procure insurance specifically for sprinkler leakage.

In the complaint, ABJ’s attorney, Michael Hodgins, says the business and the Maine Department of Defense, Veterans & Emergency Management signed a contract for a sprinkler and fire alarm project for multiple buildings at Camp Keyes, Augusta.

Work at Building 37 — a Maine National Guard support maintenance site — was done in the fall of 2010, and the system was successfully tested and turned over to the department on March 9, 2011, Hodgins wrote.

Six days later, water from the sprinkler system flowed into the attic of Building 37.

Hodgins wrote that because of a disconnected elbow and the delayed response to the system alarm, there was “significant damage throughout the building, including damage to the heating system boilers that were flooded in the basement.”

ABJ responded, did repairs and determined the pipe joint “was loosened by someone not within the control or employment of ABJ after installation,” Hodgins said, so it was not a warranty claim.

Hodgins said the department agreed to repairs being made by ABJ but then refused to pay the $476,377 invoice.

A photocopy of the single-page invoice carries a note printed in capital letters that says “Rejected: DFE/DVEM does not have a contract with ABJ for repairs due to the failed fire suppression system below.”

The note was signed by Mark Roberts, director of facilities engineering at Camp Keyes, on Nov. 22.

Brenda Kielty, spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office, said a response to the complaint will be filed with the court. She said Thursday she can’t respond because of the pending case.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

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