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Beech-nut files suit over roof collapse

Documents say design, materials led to accident

October 21, 2012
By ARTHUR CLEVELAND , The Leader Herald

FLORIDA - The Beech-Nut Nutrition Corporation and Hero Group, Inc. have filed a lawsuit against Facility Group, Inc., Vulcraft of New York, Nucor Corporation, and Starzer Brady Fagan Associates, Inc. and several other individuals and corporations for damage caused by a collapsed roof at the Beech-Nut plant in the town in March 2011.

The suit, filed Oct. 17 by Finazzo Cossolini O'Leary Meola & Hager, LLC, claims that improper roof design and sub-standard material caused the roof to collapse on March 7, 2011, following a heavy snow fall. The collapse wasn't visible from the front of the building. The roof collapse was toward the center of the building where defective roof joist girders were installed, which caused the collapse, the suit claims.

The girders, according to the suit, were defective and were not inspected by Starzer Brady Fagan Associates before their installation.

According to the suit, Facility Group was contracted to perform and was responsible for supplying design, engineering, and construction services within code in relation to the construction of the Beech-Nut plant in town. The suit says Starzer Brady Fagan Associates was hired by Facility to be the structural engineers, while Vulcraft and/or Nucor were to build roof joists and girders to support the roof on the factory. As a result, all those tied in the construction were named in the suit, which spreads over nine different causes of action.

Beech-Nut and Hero are seeking $7 million per cause in damages and loss of revenue against the defendants.

Christopher Finazzo, Managing Partner for Finazzo Cossolini O'Leary Meola & Hager, LLC, said that if one of the causes were fulfilled, his clients would be happy.

Facility Group and affiliated groups have been sued before in connection with the construction of the Beech-Nut facility in town.

In December, Hero filed a suit against "Facility Group affiliates," claiming it signed a contract in December 2007 to design and build the Beech-Nut facility in the town. Under terms of the contract, Facility Group was to pay for all labor and materials, using money Hero paid in response to monthly "requests for progress payments." Hero met all RFPP requests, the suit said, but Facility Group did not use all the money to pay for labor and materials, and also "knowingly and intentionally submitted false RFPPs to Hero, retained money that it was not entitled to and refused to make payments to subcontractors" as required by the contract. The suit seeks $7 million on each of two counts of breach of contract, $7 million on a count of indemnification, $11 million on a count of conversion and $11 million on a count of unjust enrichment.

In June, D.J. Rosetti Inc. of Malta, Saratoga County, filed a lawsuit against Facility Group Inc., the contractors in the construction of the Beech-Nut facility.

The suit asked for $101,049, the difference between the $3.96 million agreed-to price and the $3.86 million paid so far, according to court documents. Rosetti sent Facility Group monthly invoices showing the balance owed, but Facility Group never finished paying, according to the suit.



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