District 95 accepts $80K, closing last construction lawsuit

District 95 accepts $80K, closing last construction lawsuit

Source: http://lakezurich.suntimes.com, September 5, 2013
By: Laura Pavin

Community Unit School District 95 recently approved a settlement agreement with the last of the five companies whose work allegedly led to structural issues at Spencer Loomis Elementary School and Middle School North in Hawthorn Woods.

Ending a six-year-old lawsuit, school board members agreed in August to accept a payout of nearly $80,000 from Terra Group of Chicago. The construction issues were discovered in 2007, several years after the work was completed.

Combined, the district’s settlement agreements with Terra Group, Bovis Lend Lease, Legat Architects of Chicago, Larson Engineering of Chicago and Illinois Masonry Corporation totalled about $1.9 million.

The money makes up for about two-thirds of the amount the district paid to rectify structural problems allegedly due to the companies’ work on its schools.

The majority of the money was received before the schools opened in 2004, but two additional lawsuits were filed in response to work on the high school’s field house, performing arts center and drama room.

The district discovered in 2007 that it had to repair the retaining wall of the high school’s field house after it failed. Officials also learned that additional repairs were needed for the floors at the performing arts center and drama room.

According to the settlement agreements, which Pioneer Press obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, Bovis settled in 2011 for $1.25 million, allocating $75,000 to the “HS Retaining Wall Lawsuit” and $25,000 to the “HS Stage Floor Lawsuit.” It also paid $1.15 million of the $1.25 million to the “EMS Lawsuit,” $575,000 of which was put toward a soil damage claim and another $575,000 toward masonry damage claims at the Hawthorn Woods school.

Repairs included work on both the schools’ floor, wall and roof connectors and vertical reinforcement in stairwells. Due to the urgent and unexpected nature of the repairs, the district sold land adjacent to the schools to help fund the work.

Last year, Illinois Masonry Corporation settled for $250,000 “in consideration for the release of all claims that the Board has against IMC or may have against IMC,” according to its settlement agreement.

In July, Terra Group settled for $80,000 under the terms that both parties agreed that the payment was made as a compromise and not as a concession of liability.

Larson and Legat settled in 2009 for about $312,000; Larson paid $218,693 and Legat paid $93,725.

Legat president and CEO Patrick Brosnan said Legat Architects and Larson Engineering stand behind their clients when questions about their work arises, and were quick to work with the district when the construction company it hired to investigate the situation came back with a recommendation.

“Although it wasn’t related to the architectural design in any way, we wanted to do something to make sure that the district didn’t have any issues with our services,” Brosnan said. “We paid for that modification because it was related to the work of our structural engineer.”

School board member Scott McConnell voted to approve the latest settlement agreement, but he said he isn’t “terribly thrilled with the results or the outcome of the settlement agreement.”

McConnell concluded it was time to move on.

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