Source: http://www.nj.com, July 8, 2011
By: Jean-Pierre Mestanza
An appeals court has shot down a lower court’s ruling that awarded the town roughly $900,000 in a lawsuit against the architectural firm that designed a facility for the police and fire departments that has been condemned due to shoddy construction.
The police and fire facility, located on John Miller Way between Hackensack and Central avenues, was condemned in 2006 because of structural problems that led the building to sink, according to court records.
On June 28, a state appellate court reversed a 2008 decision against Clifton-based architectural firm Brandt-Kuybida on the grounds that two engineering firms that examined the building SESI and Harrison-Hamnett should have been also been sued.
According to the appeals court decision, the town did not include the engineering firms in its lawsuit, filed on April 6, 2006, because the statute of limitations on suing the engineering firms had expired.
The suit was filed one day before the statute of limitations would have expired to sue the architectural firm, court records state.
Construction on the facility, which was intended to be a headquarters for both police and fire departments, began in September 1994 and was completed in April 1996.
The 2008 decision ordered Brandt-Kuybida to pay the town $800,000, plus $121,091 in interest, for a total of $921,091.
The appeals court has now sent the matter back to the lower court and has ruled that the engineering firms can be added as defendants.
Mayor Alberto Santos said the town will seek to apportion the $900,000 judgment amongst the architectural firm and two engineering companies.
“If we retry liability and the engineering firms cannot be brought in, we want the lower court to be able to consider a higher award than the $900,000 that was affirmed,” Santos said in an email.
Michael Kuybida, one of the principal architects in the firm, declined to comment.
The two engineering firms could not be reached.