Ritz developer was confident of lawsuit outcome

Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman Developer Michael Ryan said he was confident of the outcome of the lawsuit brought by Fluor Daniel (Caribbean) Inc., which concluded last week.

The unanimous jury verdict not only found in favour of Mr. Ryan’s company Humphrey’s (Cayman) Ltd. in the US$30 million wrongful termination case brought by Fluor, but also awarded US$28.8 million plus interest to Humphrey’s in its counter claim.

‘We acted correctly in accordance with our contract with Fluor,’ Mr. Ryan said in an interview this week.

‘At the end of the day, Fluor would not or could not perform.

‘They would not or could not perform in providing adequate manpower on the site.

‘They would not or could not perform in providing the necessary subcontractors.

‘And they would not or could perform in producing a credible schedule of works.’

Mr. Ryan said that some people have questioned his motives for removing Fluor from the job site.

‘The last thing in the world I wanted to do was get rid of my general contractor,’ he said. ‘But I had to do what I needed to do.’

Mr. Ryan said he attempted to work with Fluor to resolve the time problems on the site.

‘I’d ask them to pick a day (to get something finished) and to show me they could actually do it, but they gave me unsupportable schedules that weren’t reasonable or credible. They’d just take the position ‘we’re Fluor and you’ll just have to accept what we say’.’

Mr. Ryan said Fluor was unwilling to accept any of the blame for the problems at the project site.

‘According to them, they were not responsible for a single day of delay and not one cent of cost overrun,’ Mr. Ryan said, noting that Fluor’s arrogant approach was not received well in the courtroom. ‘The jury didn’t find that reasonable.’

Mr. Ryan said Humphrey’s presented a much more complicated case to the jury than Fluor.

‘Theirs was a case based on the assertion they were right. Ours was a case based in facts,’ he said.

‘The jury was asked a simple question, and they ruled that Fluor was not wrongfully terminated.’

Mr. Ryan said he had tried to be reasonable with Fluor.

‘We acted reasonably from day one,’ he said. ‘We acted reasonably when dealing with the contract. We acted reasonably in court.

‘We admitted we made some mistakes, but Fluor refused to act reasonably and took the attitude that everything was our fault.

‘After listening to everything, the jury didn’t find that reasonable.’

During the case, Fluor’s main strategy was to discredit Humphrey’s witnesses, Mr. Ryan said.

‘They didn’t go after our witnesses on facts,’ he said. ‘They went after our credibility. It wasn’t fact-based; it was trickery.’

Jean Cohen, General Manager of the Ritz Carlton, Grand Cayman said she was confident the truth we would be told in the court case.

‘More importantly, I was ecstatic that Michael Ryan took over the construction because that was the only way this project was going to be completed in a timely manner,’ she said.

‘Very early on, I noticed the construction pace wasn’t sufficient. When Mr. Ryan took over, I knew he’d get it done.’

Mr. Ryan said he was glad the distraction of the case is now over.

‘I was in New York for a month,’ he said. ‘It’s great for me to be back so I can get back to work.’

Many of Mr. Ryan’s development team had to travel to New York to be witnesses in the case, something that created some difficulties.

‘We tried not to let it interfere with the project by keeping key construction people on the island.’

Mr. Ryan said he was not concerned about the reports that Fluor might appeal the decision.

‘Our attorneys have advised us that there is little cause to appeal the decision,’ he said. ‘They would have to prove the judge made an error.

‘Besides, virtually no one overturns a jury verdict.’