Meta's data center project in Kansas City, Missouri, has led to a dispute between a father and son.

The two are suing one another over the utility contracts at the Northland site, which is set to host an $800 million data center development, reports the Kansas City Business Journal.

Golden Plains Tech Park Image -- diode ventures.jpg
Meta's planned Kansas City campus – Diode Ventures

The companies involved in the lawsuit are Rodriguez Construction and Underground Inc. (Rod-Con), an underground utility contractor that is owned by Joseph Rodriguez, and Clarkson Construction Co. They have jointly filed a lawsuit against Rodriguez Mechanical Contractors (RMC), a plumbing service owned by Paul Rodriguez, Joseph's father.

The lawsuit centers on a dispute over whether Clarkson subcontracted Rod-Con vs RMC for the $20.3 million water supply, sanitary sewer, and storm drainage work contract. The alternative is that in doing so, Clarkson breached an exclusivity agreement with RMC.

The general contractor for the Meta data center is Turner Construction, and according to the lawsuit sought a bid for utilities and plumbing work from Clarkson which, in 2021, had an exclusive subcontractor agreement with RMC at which time Joseph Rodriguez was the general manager.

That agreement should have prevented Clarkson from working with competitors on the Meta data center.

Joseph then left RMC in 2021 for Rod-Con, which he incorporated in May 2020, which coincided approximately with Clarkson submitting its bid to Turner. Clarkson told Turner that with Joseph leaving for his own company, some work would now go to Rod-Con.

RMC is arguing that Clarkson could not have won the Turner bid without RMC's prices, credentials, and data center experience, adding that Rod-Con was not registered in Missouri and did not have the appropriate safety rating at the time of Clarkson's bid to Turner.

Rod-Con and Clarkson countered: "While Clarkson and RMC had previously discussed the possibility of entering into a subcontracting agreement related to the Project Velvet work, no such contract or agreement was ever entered, executed, or memorialized prior to Clarkson submitting its bid."

RMC further claims that Joseph Rodriguez, along with other employees now working for Rod-Con, intentionally diverted work from Meta to the company.

RMC's lawsuit said: "While Joe Rodriguez had formed Rod-Con in May 2020, he did not register it to do business in the State of Missouri until September 22, 2021, shortly after he resigned from RMC. Joe Rodriguez had clearly identified RMC's Project Velvet Work as the right opportunity to steal work from RMC, and he was taking steps to ready Rod-Con to do so."

Clarkson awarded RMC work on an "equivalent" project involving 128th Street to compensate for the loss, but RMC says this project was considerably smaller in scope.

StreetRMC estimates that it lost out on about $4.1 million from Clarkson's alleged breach, plus an additional $250,000 scope awarded to Global Earthworks and Underground LLC, a firm majority owned by Rod-Con.

The company is seeking damages for that money lost, and is pursuing judgments exceeding $75,000 from Rod-Con and its staff that were previously employed by RMC.

RMC has also filed to have the Rod-Con and Clarkson counter-lawsuit dismissed. The hearings are scheduled for September 6 in Platte County, and October 8 in Jackson County.

Plans for the Meta data center were first publicly shared in 2020, then known as Project Velvet.

The data center is part of the Golden Plains Technology Park, of which Meta purchased 500 acres in January 2023. The social media firm will spend more than $800 million developing a one million sq ft (92,900 sqm) facility.