Riverchase UMC claims contractor forged performance bond for church addition

By BRAD GASKINS / Staff Writer

HOOVER – Riverchase United Methodist Church is seeking compensatory and punitive damages against the contractor hired to construct a building addition.

The lawsuit, filed May 26 in Shelby County Circuit Court, claims C.E. Huffstutler Contracting forged a $63,000 performance bond and “provided a copy of what purported to be a bond issued by American Southern Insurance Company.”

In addition to fraud, three other counts are alleged against the Blountsville-based company and its owner, Chad Huffstutler: breach of contract and two counts of negligence/wanton supervision.

“The church is really reluctant to file a lawsuit against somebody,” said Brett Ross, the church’s attorney. “All we’re really looking for is to be made whole. There’s been a lot of problems with the construction.”

The church and Huffstutler signed an agreement on Aug. 20, 2010 for the church addition, for which Huffstutler was to be paid $1.3 million spread over monthly installments, the lawsuit stated.

In March 2011, the Alabama Department of Environmental Management ordered the church to halt construction because of water pollution violations.

Prior to the order, ADEM inspectors had twice observed “significant accumulations of sediment resulting from discharges at the facility,” according to a copy of the May 4 ADEM letter to the church. Listed inspection dates were Nov. 1, 2010 and Feb. 3, 2011.

Several calls Friday afternoon to Huffstutler and the American Southern Insurance Company were not answered.