Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Ottawa schools seeking $375K-plus in lawsuit

By DOUG CARDER, Herald Senior Writer | 4/5/2013

A long-standing disagreement between the Ottawa school district and an Olathe-based contractor over leaky roofs at Garfield and Lincoln elementary schools soon could be patched up in court.

The Ottawa school district filed a civil suit April 13, 2011, against Manning Construction Co., seeking damages for epoxy floor cracks and leaky roofs at Lincoln and Garfield schools. Manning was the general contractor in charge of the construction of Lincoln and a major renovation project at Garfield, which began in 2005.

A long-standing disagreement between the Ottawa school district and an Olathe-based contractor over leaky roofs at Garfield and Lincoln elementary schools soon could be patched up in court.

The Ottawa school district filed a civil suit April 13, 2011, against Manning Construction Co., seeking damages for epoxy floor cracks and leaky roofs at Lincoln and Garfield schools. Manning was the general contractor in charge of the construction of Lincoln and a major renovation project at Garfield, which began in 2005.

The school district’s petition for damages, filed by its Overland Park-based attorney Michael Norris, details five counts of alleged contract violations against Manning Construction related to the construction projects. The five counts are breach of contract, breach of express warranty, breach of implied warranty of workman-like performance, negligence and negligent misrepresentation, according to the court document.

The school district seeks $75,000 in damages for each count, plus attorney fees, court costs and any other relief the court deems appropriate.

Four subcontractors also are named as defendants: Cannon Building Systems Inc., Lenexa; Epoxy Coating Specialists Inc., Kansas City, Kan.; Uhlman’s Midwest Erectors Inc., Liberty, Mo., and AEP Span Inc., a Tacoma, Wash.-based engineer and manufacturer of steel roofing systems.

Attorneys for the school district and defendants are scheduled to make their pretrial motions before District Judge Eric W. Godderz 1:30 p.m. Tuesday in Franklin County District Court, 301 S. Main St., Ottawa. A five-day jury trial has been set for June 3, with Judge Godderz presiding.

Manning Construction Co., formerly known as MPW Construction Inc., entered into a contract with the school district in January 2005 to build Lincoln Elementary at 1102 N. Milner Road, Ottawa, and to complete a renovation project at Garfield Elementary, 1213 S. College St., Ottawa. Both projects were substantially complete in early 2007, according to court documents.

The bulging case file 2011-CV-80, so thick it fills two manila folders, has continued to mushroom since the first petition was filed in spring 2011.

The original petition indicates district officials noticed cracks in epoxy floors and “widespread construction deficiencies in the roofs of both schools,” according to the document. The school district notified Manning Construction in writing of the alleged deficiencies within one year of the project’s completion, according to the court document, but “Manning failed to correct the defects and deficiencies.”

Subsequent court documents chronicle details about one leak in the roof at Garfield and four leaks in the roof at Lincoln.

Manning Construction, an award-winning contractor, is no stranger to large school, municipal and commercial projects.

Some of Manning’s recent construction projects include Madison Elementary School, Gardner; Eudora High School, Eudora; Platte County Middle School, Platte City, Mo.; Wellsville Elementary School, Wellsville; Olathe City Hall, Olathe; Harrah’s Prairie Band Casino, north of Topeka in Mayetta, Kan., and Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Gardner.

Norris and Michael Seck, the Overland Park attorney representing Manning Construction, could not be reached for comment Friday.

The trial promises to feature expert witnesses testifying for the plaintiff and defense, according to court documents.

Representatives with the contractor and subcontractors also might be called to testify, along with Dean Katt, former superintendent of Ottawa schools. A settlement agreement between the school district and Katt, who resigned March 1, requires that Katt be available to testify in the court proceedings.

Ottawa school district patrons passed a $25.9 million bond issue in 2004 to cover the costs of the Lincoln and Garfield construction and renovation projects, as well as other improvements in the district.

Doug Carder is senior writer for The Herald. Email him at dcarder@ottawaherald.com

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