Christensen Shipyards faces lawsuit from supplier

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A supplier to Christensen Shipyards sued the Vancouver-based builder of custom yachts, saying the company failed to pay more than $966,000 for materials and equipment used in the construction of hulls, according to a Washington publication.

Stellar Industrial Supply, with offices in the Pacific Northwest, California and Montana, filed the lawsuit on Feb. 12 in Clark County Superior Court, according to an article in The Columbian.

Christensen president Joe Foggia did not return a phone call or email request for comment from Trade Only Today.

Stellar Industrial Supply attorney Christopher Allen, who is with the Tacoma law firm Morton McGoldrick, also did not respond to requests for comment.

Court documents were not immediately available online.

The complaint names as defendants Christensen, Emerson Hardwood Co., Hyak Electroworks, Y.E.S. Marine, Bank of America, Indian Marine II and Ocean Alexander Marine. The suit also lists as defendants six vessels: hulls 39, 40, 41, 42, OA120-2 and OA120-3, according to the article.

"Despite Stellar's demand for payment, Christensen has refused, and continues to refuse, to pay for the equipment and supplies Christensen purchased from Stellar, and provided to the defendant vessels," alleges Allen, of Morton McGoldrick.

Meanwhile, Christensen employees arrived at the company on Friday to pick up paychecks, days after learning the financially struggling company had again halted production, according to an article in The Columbian.

The newspaper has been chronicling the shipbuilder’s hardships for the past couple of months.

On Feb. 9, the newspaper reported that workers arrived at the shipyard to find the front gates locked. In the past couple months, several businesses have made initial filings under the Uniform Commercial Code naming Christensen as a debtor and spelling out collateral, public documents show. Meanwhile, the company has informed employees that certain voluntary benefits, including vision insurance, will be terminated or scaled back, according to a company letter dated Feb. 3 that The Columbian obtained.

In an article in late January, Foggia told the newspaper in an email that an estimated 50 workers are on temporary layoff and that “we are striving to bring them back as work allows.” He said Christensen will pay its suppliers and the bank.

“Like all businesses, especially our type of business,” Foggia said, Christensen “has regular concerns with cash flow. With over 300 employees, this is common in large construction projects. Projects start and stop regularly due to economics, world events, disagreements, changes in life. For example, if we have a customer who made their money in oil, more than 50 percent of their wealth would be lost in the last several months. Their yacht being built would be the first thing to stop. We have to balance this.”

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