A Winter Park general contractor faces litigation from several subcontractors who complain they haven’t been paid for projects at Walt Disney World Resort, court records show.
Five subcontractors who sued Vanson Enterprises last year have cases pending in Orange Circuit Court.
Vanson chief financial officer Doug Loft said most of the problems with subcontractors was because Disney owed Vanson money.
“They’re simply not paying us for the work we have performed … I don’t have a good handle on why,” he said. “The sad part is they’re not just punishing us — they’re punishing subcontractors and suppliers.”
Disney disputed Loft’s claims.
“We have met our obligations and it is Vanson’s responsibility to pay its subcontractors,” Disney said in a statement.
Loft contended Disney owed about $3 million for several projects. The only lien his company filed was for $135,436 in unpaid work at the Magic Kingdom Monorail station, which was filed Jan. 2 with the Orange County Comptroller’s Office. Other projects Vanson did included renovations at Magic Kingdom’s Liberty Square and the ramps and railings at Cinderella’s Castle, he said. Several subcontractors who said Vanson still owed them also filed liens.
It’s unusual for disagreements with subcontractors alleging unpaid bills to end up in court, said Mark Wylie, president of ABC of Florida’s Central Florida chapter, a network of commercial and industrial contractors. Plenty can go wrong in routine commercial construction projects — let alone for a theme park where the work’s complexity grows, he said.
“There are opportunities for lots of finger-pointing,” Wylie said.
One lawsuit from a Vanson subcontractor last year dated back to March when Entech Creative Industries sued, alleging it was still owed more than $300,000 from renovating the Monorail Transportation and Ticket Center, court documents said.
The work was supposed to be done in six months, but several design changes slowed it down by more than two years which cost the Brevard County business $427,869, the lawsuit said.
Vanson was paid by Disney for the subcontractors’ delay expenses, but Entech never received money, the lawsuit said.
Loft said Vanson never recovered the claims from Disney.
The most recent litigation against Vanson stems from a December lawsuit from Altamonte Glass and Mirror that also named Walt Disney Parks and Resorts as a defendant. The glass company claimed it had not been paid the remaining $12,257 of a $122,571 renovation project at the Epcot Monorail station.
The glass company sought payment in 2016 and later filed a construction lien, according to court documents.
“When payment was again requested, Vanson replied that payment would not be made until they settled issues with Disney,” the complaint said.
During October, two more Vanson subcontractors filed lawsuits against the general contractor.
Winter Park-based Q Construction Services sued, alleging it had not been paid for $17,284 for six jobs at Walt Disney resorts, including $6,191 to renovate bathrooms at Grand Floridian Resort & Spa.
Included in the court document was a May 23 email from Vanson Chief Operations Officer George Seay to Q’s attorney.
“Simply billing for work is no proof work was ever done. Please make no mistake, I have been in business for over 26 years and have seen this type of scam before,” he wrote. “Trying to intimidate me into paying will not work.”
Mark’s Custom Kits, a Kissimmee company, was hired as a Vanson subcontractor to rehabilitate the Monorail station at the Magic Kingdom. Despite some unforeseeable conditions that slowed the project, Disney representatives had been pleased with the results up to that point, said owner Mark Scrivani.
But Vanson unexpectedly terminated his contract and did not pay for three months of installation work that was done, he said, adding his company was replaced by another subcontractor who charged more. Scrivani sued in August, contending Vanson owed him $16,600 for the work.
Loft said Vanson has a 25-year history of doing business, including at Disney World, and hasn’t faced problems of this magnitude until now.
“We’re not in a habit of fighting with our clients,” he said.