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Coghlin caught in payment fight over Encore construction

Worcester Business Journal

Grant Welker

July 16, 2019

A fight between Worcester’s Coghlin Electrical Contractors and one of the state’s largest construction firms is lingering nearly a month beyond the opening of the project they were involved with, the Encore Boston Harbor casino hotel.

Coghlin alleges it is still owed $27 million for electrical work roughly 200 electricians performed on the casino and hotel in Everett, which opened June 23. Boston-based Suffolk Construction says Coghlin hasn’t proven it’s still owed for work.

“Here we are at the end of the job, and what are we going to get?” Sue Mailman, Coghlin’s owner, said Tuesday.

Those electricians have been paid by Coghlin, Mailman said, but had a delay in some of their benefits.

Suffolk says in a statement it has paid Coghlin nearly $70 million for work it performed and has not received documents from the firm that prove it is still owed more money.

“In fact, Coghlin recently and unexpectedly added millions of dollars to its list of claims without providing any meaningful documentation to substantiate those claims,” said Linda Dorcena Forry, Suffolk’s vice president of diversity, inclusion and community.

Mailman disputes that.

“They absolutely have [documentation],” she said.

The dispute pits a major Central Massachusetts subcontractor against a construction firm with 10 offices across the country. The two, along with others, were involved with a $2.6-billion project that’s been described as one of the biggest private developments in the state’s history.

Mailman said she still wasn’t sure whether the fight would be worth it for Coghlin, which could be risking the willingness of Suffolk or other firms to do work with them.

“But I feel that it’s the right thing,” she said.

The $100-million Encore project was a major one for Coghlin, a family-run company founded in 1885. Coghlin’s electricians worked on Encore’s casino, while other subcontractors worked on the hotel and other portions of the project. Coghlin was also involved in building the state’s two other gaming facilities: MGM in Springfield and Plainridge Park Casino in Plainville.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission said last month it is monitoring the dispute to make sure all subcontractors are paid. Catherine Blue, the commission’s general counsel, told an attorney for Coghlin, John McNamara of the Southborough firm Lane McNamara, the board hopes to help resolve the dispute in a timely fashion.

Encore said in a statement it has paid all invoices presented by Suffolk. Subcontractors work directly with Suffolk, not Encore, with which the casino has no outstanding invoices, said Rosie Salisbury, Encore’s director of public relations.

“The relationship between [Encore owner] Wynn Resorts and Suffolk has always been cordial and professional,” she said.

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