Modern Piping asks judge to order University of Iowa to pay $13.5 million

IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) - Modern Piping asked a judge to force the University of Iowa to release $13.5 million dollars it still owes the company for work on the new University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital project.

The UI placed that money into an escrow account but has refused to release it until Cedar Rapids-based Modern Piping provides it with a copy of as-built drawings, detailing the location of pipes in the new hospital building.

In court filings Monday, Modern Piping argued it has already met that condition. The filing included three documents showing agents for the University received and signed off on as-built drawings as far back as 2017 and as recently as last month. The University of Iowa contends those drawings were not final schematics but incomplete renderings. The University of Iowa's design team, Heery, has supported the UI's stance that it has not received final as-builts on the Children's Hospital.

It's the latest action in a bitter and public dispute between the two companies. Modern Piping sued claiming the UI refused to pay after it says design changes during construction drove up Modern Piping Costs costs. An arbitrator agreed and ordered the UI to pay $21.5 million to Modern Piping, of which $13.5 remains unpaid. That court-ordered payment was on hold until appeals ended, which happened last month.

Since then, the two sides have traded legal and public jabs at each other. At one point, Modern Piping had petitioned to garnish University of Iowa bank accounts and suggest the UI sell its Jackson Pollock "Mural" to pay the settlement. Speaking at a Board of Regents meeting last month, University of Iowa President Bruce Harreld accused Modern Piping of extortion. He later apologized for the comment and for contributing to what he called the "war of words".

Editor's Note - a previous version incorrectly stated the Children's Hospital location as the Iowa River Landing in Coralville. A separate UIHC clinic is located there, the Children's Hospital is located at the main UIHC campus next to Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City.