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Software firm sues county for $3.5 million

Rochester Business Journal
October 4, 2013

A software vendor claims Monroe County owes $3.5 million for work it did before the county pulled out of contracts calling for the firm to develop computer-aided 911 dispatch and public-safety records management software.
 
Monroe County and Tiburon Inc., a company in San Ramon, Calif., that specializes in public-safety software, signed a contract calling for Tiburon to install the 911 dispatch system in 2009 and a separate agreement in 2010 covering the computerized records management system.
 
The cancellations followed Tiburon's successful installation of a management system for the Monroe County Jail and were not a result of its failure. Instead, the county unilaterally changed terms and repeatedly blocked Tiburon's attempts to work on the 911 system, the software firm claims in a lawsuit filed Sept. 23 in U.S. District Court in Rochester.
 
Justin Feasel, a spokesman for County Executive Maggie Brooks, did not respond to a request for comment on the dispute.
 
"This is an extremely difficult day for Tiburon," the company's president and CEO, Jonathan Huberman, said in a statement released with the action's filing. "However, after exhausting all efforts to gain a collaborative resolution, we have no choice but to take this action in light of Monroe County's unjustified termination of our two contracts after years of Tiburon's efforts that go well beyond the agreed-upon project scope."
 
According to Tiburon's court complaint, the county cited no problems with the software firm's execution of the records management contract but claimed the 911 contract's termination justified canceling the records management deal.
 
The county had no substantive cause to scrub either contract but canceled both "for convenience," Tiburon maintains, citing a contract condition in its court complaint that would make the county liable for work the software firm finished before the deals' termination.
 
Examples of the county's obstruction Tiburon alleges in the court complaint:

Demands for services not outlined in the contract;

Refusal to provide needed information;

Imposition of arbitrary and unreasonable deadlines coupled with unreasonable limits on times when Tiburon could test the system; and

Failure to acknowledge that Tiburon had fixed software bugs.

"Tiburon attempted to accommodate the county's unreasonable demands and difficult personalities, including by acceding to the county's repeated demands for changes in leadership of the Tiburon team," wrote the software firm's attorney, Carolyn Nussbaum of Nixon Peabody LLP, in court papers. "Tiburon recruited its most experienced and skilled project managers, and highly qualified senior executives from outside of the company, in an effort to work with the county and implement standard project management processes."
 
The county's mid-2011 decision to switch from the New York State Police Information System to its new but not fully tested Integrated Justice Portal, when the project had been underway for more than a year, "required Tiburon to customize, design and build software to support an entirely different interface from the ground up," Nussbaum wrote in the Tiburon complaint.
 
Tiburon calculates unpaid bills it has sent the county for work done prior to the county calling off the contracts at $900,000 for the 911 system and $2.58 million for the records management system.
 
The company seeks a court ruling that it did not breach either contract.

10/4/13 (c) 2013 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email service@rbj.net.


 


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