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February 13, 2013

Stadium construction leads to lawsuits

Two recent high-profile lawsuits involving contracted work on football stadiums in Winnipeg and Vancouver highlight the legal mayhem that can result when teams comprising projects owners, contractors and subcontractors get their signals crossed.

In Winnipeg, the $190 million Investors Group Field, the new home of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, was supposed to open in the fall. However, construction delays forced the team to remain at Canad Inns Stadium, the team’s old facility, for the entire season.

The new field’s debut was rescheduled to the 2013 season.

According to a report in the Winnipeg Free Press, general contractor Stuart Olson Dominion Construction recently filed a statement of claim in Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench against Boucherville, QC-based Structal-Heavy Steel Construction for special and general damages amounting to more than $14 million.

In addition, Dominion Construction is suing Structal for $1 million in punitive damages for what it alleges were the steel company’s “capricious, high-handed, malicious, oppressive and arbitrary manner for the purposes of its own interest.”

Dominion claims it was construction delays, allegedly caused by Structal, that caused the new stadium to not open in time.

The lawsuit also alleges the delays led to other extra costs, including fixing water-damaged portions of the facility that had already been built, and storing stadium seating until the seats could be installed.

The allegations have not been proven in court and no statement of defence has been filed as of the beginning of February.

In Vancouver, Structal-Heavy Steel also figures in another lawsuit involving a football stadium. Oil and grease that leaked from some of the cables installed in 2010 and 2011 to hold up the new roof of BC Place Stadium has led to a spate of suits and counter suits between some of the participants in the project to refurbish the stadium.

In October 2011, cable installer Freyssinet Canada of Mississauga, ON sued Canam Group Inc. (doing business as Structal-Heavy Steel Construction, BC Pavilion Corporation and PCL Westcoast Constructors Westcoast Inc.) in B.C. Supreme Court.

According to the lawsuit, PCL was hired in 2009 as the main contractor and sought bids for certain portions of the work.

Canam’s subcontract was for $122.8 million to supply and erect the roofing steel structure and cable system, and Freyssinet’s $30-million subcontract was for the engineering and fabrication of the cable and cast steel connections.

Freyssinet claimed Canam breached its subcontract by refusing to pay the remaining $6.5 million of its contract.

In March 2012, Canam responded with a countersuit of $26.15 million, which it said it was owed “as a result of Freyssinet’s breaches of contract, misrepresentation and negligence.”

Canam denied it was in breach of contract or owed any amount to Freyssinet.

The Quebec company went on to claim that Freyssinet “supplied cables that leak and continue to leak oil and grease,” causing extra expense.

It also claimed that, “As the direct result of Freyssinet’s breaches of its obligations, specifically its breach of control and negligence in cost estimating, construction methodology, engineering, supervision, management and technical assistance and its late, defective and deficient supply of hardware, materials and equipment, Freyssinet failed to perform its obligations pursuant to the bid contract and subcontract...”

And in the most recent news concerning the stadium roof lawsuit, Canam Group is claiming from Freyssinet Canada all costs claimed by PCL Constructors Westcoast for the grease that leaked from the cables.

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