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MasTec North America sues Claro for $10M in breach of contract suit

MasTec North America Inc., a FL-based infrastructure construction company, is suing Claro Puerto Rico for $10 million in outstanding pay for the work it did to restore the telecommunications provider’s “devastated” infrastructure following Hurricane María in 2017.

In a lawsuit filed last week in the US District Court of Puerto Rico in San Juan, the plaintiff claims that it provided Claro with a detailed proposal outlining the scope and daily costs of its services.

The proposal called for MasTec to bill and Claro was to pay, on a per-crew, per-day basis for each deployment of its crew, which Claro’s parent company, América Móvil, reportedly approved. The purchase orders, invoices and other documents would be channeled through a MasTec affiliate already registered in Claro’s vendor roster.

The first crew was deployed to Puerto Rico on Oct. 18, 2017. MasTec also assisted Claro “with localizing, purchasing, and bringing barges of essential materials such as cables and poles to be used in the restoration of Claro’s devastated communication system,” according to the lawsuit.

In the following weeks, MasTec claims that Claro “had no intention of fulfilling its end of the deal, and instead consistently acted in bad faith, using delay-and-deny tactics to avoid paying MNA for the services delivered.”

“Throughout the life of the project, Claro consistently delayed in paying MNA for the work already performed in its benefit,” MasTec claimed in its lawsuit against Puerto Rico’s largest telecom provider.

“It repeatedly requested discounted rates and attempted to bargain itself out of paying the outstanding debt it owes [MasTec], all the while shielding itself behind increasingly complex and stringent documentation requirements for the work [MasTec] had already performed to its satisfaction — requirements that were nearly impossible to comply with after months and years of completing the work,” MasTec claimed.

Claro allegedly began to review MasTec’s supporting documentation in early 2018, submitting objections. MasTec repaired and restored Claro’s telecom infrastructure in several locations across the island From October 2017 to April 2018, under Claro’s direction.

In April 2018, Claro acknowledged it owed some $27 million to MasTec, but “Claro tried to bargain a 45% discount with [MasTec] stating that if [MasTec] would agree to take a little more than half the amount owed, Claro would pay the monies owed.”

MasTec rejected Claro’s request and asked to be paid in full. Claro has paid some $17.6 million of its outstanding bills.

In its complaint, MasTec is asking the court to grant it a declaratory relief as to the amounts owed by Claro, declare that Claro has breached its contract and that it has done so with deceipt, which entitles MasTec to damages, and, in the alternative, “award MasTec the amounts by which Claro unjustly enriched itself” at MasTec’s expense.

Author Details
Author Details
Business reporter with 30 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other segments of Puerto Rico’s economy.

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