Nearly a year to the day after Havre High School’s roof collapse, “Hill County High School District No. A” filed a complaint against the groups responsible for the destruction.
A complaint was filed Dec. 29 against Dick Anderson Construction, which built the roof; Springer Group Architects, the Bozeman-based firm that designed the roof; and a list of 25 “John Does, ” or “currently unidentified persons or entities potentially liable. ”
According to a spring-time report by TD&H Engineering from Great Falls, which formed the recovery plan, the first cause of the collapse was inadequate design from Springer that did not meet the standards of the building code when it was designed.
This was made worse by the construction company, according to the report, using inferior materials to those in the architectural plan, and then installing those inferior materials incorrectly.
The school district, represented by Thomas Shea from Bozeman, filed complaints including counts of negligence, breach of express or implied warranty and breach of contract.
The district is requesting a jury trial on those issues.
The frustrations that came out of the roof crisis were compounded by the realization that, according to Montana state law “an action to recover damages... resulting from or arising out of the design, planning, supervision, inspection, construction … of any improvement to real property... may not be commenced more than 10 years after completion of the improvement ..., ” which makes this claim quite surprising.
Havre Superintendent Andy Carlson said this morning that the complaint is merely the school “doing due diligence” in looking at all possibilities.
“We’re just doing a little research, ” Carlson said. “At this point nothing has happened, just the claim.
“We’re just making sure, with the amount of dollars we’re investing in that, we’re making sure we’ve explored every option.
Dick Anderson Construction was not available for comment this morning.
A spokesperson for Springer Group Architects said the company had heard nothing of this.
But Dick Anderson Construction did offer comment to the board, as included in the correspondence section of the Havre Board of Trustees meetings.
On Feb. 24, 2011, Dick Anderson, CEO of the company, wrote to Carlson that they had seen the report and they had “also seen a couple newspaper articles appearing in some local newspapers that have painted Dick Anderson Construction in a less than favorable manner. We respectfully ask that the Havre School District, and / or their employees, and the Havre School Board desist from making any further public comment regarding Dick Anderson Construction. ”
The next paragraph in the February letter mentions that the roof was completed 14 years ago and reminds the schools that there is nothing they can do about it.
Anderson then asks if the company could send its own engineers to inspect the roof to see if they find any deviations from the plan and “if we determine that any part of the project was not constructed in accordance with the contract, we will submit a proposal for your review and offer to correct any deficiencies. ”
The board replied on Sept. 21 that the offer “was a considerate offer but does not address the needs of our district at this time. ”
They did say they would like the engineers to come up and look at the roof, then talk to the board who “have a number of questions we would like to ask the original contractor. ”
Dick Anderson’s final letter, dated Oct. 26, expresses his frustration at not being able to reach people with “numerous attempts via phone calls and emails to follow-up” between the Feb. and Sept. letters.
He concluded the short two-paragraph letter by saying “we see no reason for an inspection now after repairs have been made. Again we assert that our work was preformed (sic) according specifications, inspected and approved at the time of construction in 1998. ”
That assertion, that everything was done correctly, could possibly be tested by a jury some time this year.
This is only an early claim that was filed. The school district and its attorney have a year to issue summonses to have people testify and move this forward.