University Sues over Stadium Defects
The University of Akron, located in Ohio, has filed a lawsuit against multiple companies over faulty concrete railings and cracking at its decade-old InfoCision Stadium–Summa Field.
The university alleges that the “catastrophic” construction defects, resulting in $1 million in repairs, are to be blamed on the “poor design, failed oversight and construction deficiencies.”
The stadium cost $71 million to build and was opened in September 2009. However, UA started noticing problems with the railings located inside the stadium, primarily around seating, ramps, stairs and grass areas only a few years after completion.
Currently, UA is still paying off the stadium, with $4.3 million of annual debt-service bills owed through June 2038. Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, who filed the lawsuit on behalf of UA, went on to say that taxpayers were expecting the stadium to last multiple decades, not just one.
In a statement issued to WKYC, UA Chief Communication and Marketing Officer Wayne Hill said, “We have tried to resolve this matter without filing a lawsuit but, unfortunately, those efforts were unsuccessful.”
The Akron Beacon Journal reports that UA filed lawsuits against design and construction administration lead, HNTB Ohio Inc.; construction manager, Welty Building Co., of Fairlawn; concrete supplier, Parsons Concrete Contractors Inc., of North Canton; grout provider, EPI, of Cleveland; and the surety companies that issued bonds on behalf of Parsons and EPI.
“The way they installed the railing was wrong. It’s not safe,” said Yost
According to claims outlined in the lawsuit, UA lawyers allege that the stadium railing system’s concrete supports are failing. The reason behind the alleged breakdown is that Parsons not only failed to install the specified rebar-secured sleeves—into which the railings were meant to fit—but that EPI also incorrectly grouted the railings into place.
In a prepared statement responding to the lawsuit, construction manager Welty stated, “Since the problem was discovered approximately seven years ago we have continuously worked with the university to address any safety concerns, to identify those responsible and to get them to fix the problem.
“We are not aware of any ongoing safety concerns at this point and we have attended numerous meetings and mediations along with the university and other parties in an effort to resolve the issue. We expect the litigation will assign responsibility for the claimed defects where it is due, and that Welty will be found to have fully and properly performed its contract with the university.”
However, requests for comment issued by the Journal and Channel 5 News to attorneys and officials with HNTB Parsons and EPI have since been declined or unresponsive.
“The bottom line is: We need the stadium fixed and built to the specifications that it was supposed to have,” Yost concluded.
The suit is seeking a judgement for damages in excess of $25,000, in addition to interests and miscellaneous costs due to the contract breach in problematic railings.
Judge Alison Breaux has been assigned the lawsuit.