Carroll County has filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against two businesses to recover damages to repair and replace the “defective work product” at the Carroll County Judicial Center.
The county filed the suit on Jan. 30. It is about 500 pages long and cites numerous problems with the new $32 million courthouse building that has been occupied since March 12, 2012.
J&R Construction and Roush Architects are named as defendants.
In its lawsuit, the county claims continuous issues with the building, the earliest dating back to June 3, 2013, just months after final completion of the Judicial Center. Another report was filed after storms in April 2014 brought four inches of rain to the county and left water damage in the lobby and jury assembly room.
The lawsuit says that after extensive inspections and investigation by multiple experts and parties, it was determined that the water intrusion and damage resulted from defects in the design, construction, repairs, and cleaning, performed by or under the supervision or direction of J&R Construction, Roush Architects, Gardner Spencer, and their officers, employees, associates, affiliates, or contractors, which caused substantial damages and injury to Carroll County.
“It is the conclusion of multiple experts that the entire exterior masonry veneer of the Judicial Center (the “skin” of the building), including all the cast stone, precast material, and brick, must be removed and reinstalled properly,” reads the suit. “There is other damage to the Judicial Center resulting from the water intrusions including, but not limited to, drywall, insulation, floor coverings, acoustic treatments, light fixtures, paint, and wallpaper and expenses of Carroll County for cleaning and water extraction and remediation.”
Last year appeared to be the year with the most damage according to the report.
“We had a lot of water intrusion after Hurricane Irma which came this way as a tropical storm,” said Carroll County Operations Director Gerald Pilgrim. “We noticed on Sept. 12, we came in that morning and there was water on the first level but upon further inspection, it was on the all levels on the northern side of the building. We investigated it, we brought in experts, we notified the contractor, we notified different roofing people, we brought in some water experts and the more we did the more we found there was substantial water intrusion in the building for the last couple of years that was just going undetected.”
That damage from Irma was first observed on Sept. 12, 2017. According to the lawsuit, the carpet on the first floor in the jury assembly room was completely soaked with water and standing water had pooled throughout the room. Ceiling tiles in the room had been damaged from water leaking from the ceiling.
Also, on the first floor, water had damaged ceiling tiles of the lobby and had discharged onto the lobby floor. On the second floor, water intrusion and wet carpeting was also observed along the majority of the north exterior walls located east and west of the two-story lobby on the north side of the Judicial Center.
On the third floor, water intrusion and wet carpeting was observed at a window in the Drug Court and Mediation Center lobby located on the north exterior wall of the Judicial Center. On the fourth floor, water intrusion and wet carpeting was observed along the majority of the north exterior wall of the Judicial Center.
On the unfinished fifth floor, water intrusion was discovered along the base tract of the exposed metal stud wall framing of the majority of the north exterior wall and continuing around the northern portion of the east exterior wall of the Judicial Center. Water had formed large pools on the floor of the concrete slab several yards interior of the north wall. More water was discovered on numerous unfinished window sills of the north and east walls, with fewer occurrences at the windows along the west and south walls. The sill plates were also water stained and damaged.
Pilgrim said the actual contract cost was just under $17 million with the general contractor.
“That did not include architectural fees, engineering fees, relocation and so on,” he said. “The total project, when we had parking, land acquisitions and everything else and underground utilities, was a total of about $32 million.”
When asked if the county’s business would be interrupted in order to accommodate repairs, Pilgrim said that he hopes it doesn’t come down to that.
“We’ve had deterioration on the exterior of the building and pieces of the building have come off so we’re being very cautious,” Pilgrim said.
He said the concern now is to ensure there is no mold because there has been water intrusion for such a long time. While the tests have not come back yet, Pilgrim said county officials are closely monitoring the situation in the best interest of the public.
“We want to make sure that we’ve keeping everyone safe and protected,” he said. “The county filed the suit to protect the investment made by the taxpayers with the new courthouse only after experts determined that construction and design defects caused significant damage to the new courthouse that must be repaired.”
The 125,000-square-foot, five-story building houses the clerk of court, Superior Court, State Court, Probate Court, Juvenile Court, Drug Court, district attorney offices, solicitor, Mediation Center, sheriff’s office courthouse security, records center, and other judicial and administrative functions. It was intended to be a centerpiece for Carroll County while serving the county’s judicial needs for the next 100 years by providing the county with improvements in functionality and space for growth, while seamlessly fitting in the with existing Historic Carroll County Courthouse building.