By Giana Magnoli

Noozhawk Managing Editor

The firm that abruptly stopped work on the Northern Branch Jail project has denied all the allegations in Santa Barbara County’s breach-of-contract lawsuit and filed a cross-complaint.

Rosser International Inc. is accused of causing project delays and increased costs for building the new jail near Santa Maria.

It notified the county in June that it was going out of business and no longer providing engineering and architectural services for the project.

The county is suing for breach of contract and professional negligence, and asking the court for damages and reimbursement for the costs incurred “by reason of defective services” under the professional-service agreement and the civil case.

It also extended its contract with the construction management firm to pick up the slack, since jail construction will last until at least December.  

Attorneys for Rosser International Inc. filed an answer to the complaint, denying all the allegations, and a cross-complaint that asks for indemnity from any judgment.

Rosser’s attorneys claim in the document that the unnamed cross-defendants have the primary liability for damages, if any, to the county, and the liability of Rosser, if any, is “secondary, passive and vicarious to the liability of each cross-defendant.”

The cross-defendants live and work in Santa Barbara and San Bernardino counties, the cross-complaint alleges, and are agents, employees, partners, or others acting in the scope of their agency or employment.

A November case-management conference is scheduled in Santa Barbara County Superior Court.

According to Rosser’s website, the company has provided planning and design services to the county since 1995.

“During this long professional relationship with the county and Sheriff’s Office, staff prepared numerous needs assessments, population projections, site evaluations, and conceptual plans for proposed solutions to overcrowding and expansion of the County’s detention capacity,” the company said. 


 Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at