Harrison County

‘A lot of money.’ Family businesses sue over payment for Southern Miss dorms on Coast

Family businesses in Gulfport say they have waited too long for a total of $180,754 they are owed for work on a dormitory building that opened in 2018 in Long Beach and caters to students at the University of Southern Mississippi’s Coast campus.

A company managed by James Parrish, who has site approval for a Long Beach casino, owns Friendship Oak Village, the single-story dormitory building with a projected construction cost of around $4.6 million

Parrish’s company, Gulf Coast Student Housing, hired Kentucky company Encompass Develop, Design & Construct to oversee construction of the dorm building, according to a professional services agreement.

Phillips Building Supply is suing Encompass for $109,561, the amount it says remains unpaid for building materials.

“That’s a lot of money for us to lose,” said Bill Hough, CEO of the family business. “We can’t stand much of this. We’re not going to go under because of this. You would think a job like that would be something you could collect on.”

A second Gulfport business, Skaggs Building Solutions LLC, has filed a lawsuit in Circuit Court against both Encompass and Gulf Coast Student Housing, which Parrish manages. Skaggs says it is owed $71,193 for electrical work on the project.

Skaggs first requested payment in late September and is still waiting. Skaggs’ lawsuit says Encompass claimed it was awaiting payment from Parrish’s company.

But Gulf Coast Housing claims that Encompass owes any unpaid money. Parrish’s company says it took out a construction loan used to pay for all the work, relying on documentation from Encompass that showed all construction and related payments had been made.

Encompass should be prevented from pursuing any litigation against Gulf Coast Housing over construction payments, the student housing company says in its cross-claim.

“Student Housing has no adequate remedy at law to prevent a multiplicity of suits involving contractors, subcontractors, and materialmen unless this court enjoins Encompass from litigating and/or otherwise asserting claims against Student Housing for any claim or issue arising out of the construction of student housing at issue,” Gulf Coast Student Housing’s legal filing says.

“If an injunction is not entered, Student Housing will suffer irreparable injury for having to defend costly, vexatious, and meritless claims.”

Encompass is asking Circuit Court Judge Larry Bourgeois to dismiss the Skaggs lawsuit, or order that the dispute be settled through arbitration, which it says is the remedy for such disputes.

Adam Stone, a Jackson attorney representing Encompass, said he could not comment on the lawsuits without his client’s permission.

Encompass had the lawsuit filed by Phillips moved to U.S. District Court, where it is pending before Judge Sul Ozerden.