PICO RIVERA – A playground company filed a claim Thursday against the El Rancho Unified School District, alleging the district broke verbal contracts for jobs and refused to pay reimbursement costs for materials. The claim seeks $278,405 in compensation. Officials from Playgrounds Plus Inc. said a verbal agreement to install seven playgrounds was terminated without explanation after the company had already purchased materials. Officials said the company had built more than 20 other playgrounds for the school district over the course of several years. The company is asking for $28,405 for the cancellation of two jobs already begun, and an additional $250,000 for revoking the seven promised jobs. The district now has 45 days in which to respond to the claim. It can deny the claim, in which case the company can file a lawsuit. Steve Ortega, co-owner of Playground Plus, said based on a verbal agreement with Carlos Jimenez, director of maintenance for the district, he went ahead and purchased materials for playgrounds at South Ranchito Elementary School and Obregon Elementary School. Ortega said normally he would require purchase orders before he started a job, but because district officials wanted it done rapidly, he agreed to start work without them. “We’d had a great, long-term relationship with the district and so I gave them the benefit of the doubt,” he said. Jimenez was unavailable for comment Thursday. However Lydia Cano, chief business officer for the district, said the district never pays partial payments up front before a job is completed. “We cancelled the jobs because he wanted money up front,” Cano said. “But then we found out we could buy materials directly from the company rather than going through Playground Plus.” One of Ortega’s claims was that the district used day laborers to disassemble Obregon’s playground, resulting in a botched job. Cano said the district did not hire day laborers but hired a company called Pasadena Builders to disassemble the old playground. “I don’t know how they can tell if we used day laborers,” she said. Cano acknowledged that the district had no complaints about any work done by Playground Plus over the past few years. However, she stopped short of admitting to any specific verbal contract regarding the two elementary schools. “\ is claiming that a prior director \ verbally told him he’d be the main company,” Cano said. She said all money owed has been paid to the company. The only thing not paid was for the materials and the seven other jobs Ortega alleged the district promised. Ortega’s attorney Alex Moisa said a verbal contract is just as enforceable as a written one, with some differences in statutes of limitations. “It’s proven by the party’s actions,” Moisa said. “Their actions show their intent. In this case, Playground Plus proved their intention to enter into the contract.” [email protected] (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3029 AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECasino Insider: Here’s a look at San Manuel’s new high limit rooms, Asian restaurant160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!