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Defendant in trial over Palladium defects tries to halt repairs

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Attorneys for the Michigan contractor being sued over construction defects at Carmel’s Palladium concert hall have asked a Hamilton County court to halt repair work immediately to preserve evidence in the case.

Indianapolis-based Kightlinger & Gray LLP filed a motion Thursday in Hamilton Superior Court requesting an emergency order to stop ongoing remediation, saying Steel Supply & Engineering Co.’s engineers need to examine the roof trusses to defend the company against new allegations.

A trial on construction defects had been scheduled for next week, but recently was postponed until December.

Construction of the $119 million Palladium stopped for about three months in 2009 after an inspection revealed a rip in the structural steel supporting the venue’s domed roof. Work resumed after extensive repairs.

The Carmel Redevelopment Commission sued Steel Supply in 2011, alleging that the company failed to properly fabricate steel for the project. The commission is seeking about $5 million in damages.

Steel Supply has denied liability, laying the blame on the project engineer’s design, which it says caused some of the steel columns supporting the roof to fail.

The defense team discovered and reported new potential problems with the roof trusses in January, during the legal discovery process, and city consultants came up with a remediation plan in March.

In April, the city said the venue would undergo another $140,000 in repairs, and crews have been working around its performance schedule to weld stiffeners and small plates into place.

That work should be done next week, according to Thursday’s court filing, but Steel Supply has not had access to the engineering analysis that led to the repairs and has not been able to inspect the structural steel.

Court records also indicate that fireproofing planned for the area following remediation will prevent further review of the area.

Such actions “would result in the spoliation of evidence, and will irreparably harm the defendants, and ultimately adversely affect their ability to protect their rights in the action,” the filing said.

Although the commission’s original lawsuit did not include allegations about the roof trusses, the filing said city attorneys advised the court during a May 24 status conference that they plan to amend the complaint “to assert new issues related to roof trusses and potentially other issues.”

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