Aug. 6 2019 10:56 AM

The contractor and his clients will soon see each other in court.

A dispute over the bill for a backyard makeover and new pool has splashed over into superior court.

According to a story in the Kennewick, Washington Tri-City Herald, Kennewick surgeon Blair Sampson and his wife, Raquel have sued the owners of Premier Landscaping and Design Inc., Richland, for breach of contract, fraud and Consumer Protection Act violations in Benton County Superior Court.

The couple claims in the suit that the initial $400,000 the project was estimated to cost was doubled by time work ceased. The total bill exceeds the $750,000 assessed value of their home.

Brent and Holli Martell, Premier’s owners, denied the allegations in a statement released by their Seattle attorney.

The statement says: “Premier Landscaping and Design, Inc. and the Martells, dispute the claims of the Sampsons, will be filing counterclaims against the Sampsons, and are confident of prevailing on the facts that will be proven at trial. For 20 years Premier has provided outstanding projects for hundreds of satisfied customers, including Parade of Homes projects, and Premier will continue to do so in the future. Over our 20-year history we have had a very limited number of instances where a product did not perform as advertised by the manufacturer, or a worker has made a mistake. In every case, we have attempted to correct any problems and do right by our customers.”

Premier is bonded through American Contractors Indemnity Co. That company has been named a codefendant in the case.

The story states that according to the lawsuit, the Sampsons contacted Brent Martell in 2016 to discuss a backyard remodel, which was to include landscaping, a pool, a pool house, a slide and a hot tub.

Martell drew up the plans. Soon afterward, in January, the couple agreed to pay Premier $400,000.

Work began the following month. The couple made a series of payments to the contractor: $20,000 in March; $100,000 in April and $100,000 in May.

As often happen, as work went on, the couple upgraded their vision of the project. Martell said these upgrades would push the price to $638,000. The contractor and the couple eventually agreed on a new price of $520,000.

The story states that by October, the relationship between the Martell and the couple appeared to deteriorate, even though they had paid the $520,000 in full.

That same month, according to the story, the Sampsons notified Martell that the coatings Premier used on the pool, slide and hot tub appeared to have failed. They also complained about other problems with the quality of the landscaping, plumbing and construction, particularly with regard to the pool house.

According to the suit, although Martell promised to make good on the Sampson’s complaints, in November, all work stopped. Numerous items cited by the couple as needing repair were left unaddressed.

The Sampsons claim they spent an additional $300,000 over the next 12 months to repair damage and complete work that was never performed, according to the suit. The $300,000 also went toward bringing the original work on the pool house and other structures up to code.

The case is pending.