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Trial set in Carmel's complaint on Palladium construction

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Mediation is scheduled for May 21 in a 2-year-old lawsuit the city of Carmel brought over defects discovered during construction of its signature Palladium concert hall.

Barring a last-minute settlement between the Carmel Redevelopment Commission and Michigan-based contractor Steel Supply & Engineering Co. or a delay, Hamilton Superior Judge Steven Nation will begin a two-week bench trial June 10.

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.

Carmel filed suit in 2011, saying Steel Supply failed to properly fabricate steel for the project. It is seeking about $5 million in damages.

Steel Supply has denied liability, laying the blame on a flawed design it says caused some of the steel columns supporting the roof to fail. Design duties were the responsibility of the project engineer, who is not named in the lawsuit, according to a statement from defense attorney Pfenne Cantrell.

“All fabrication drawings were approved by the construction manager, the architect and the engineer of record prior to fabrication, and the steel that was supplied and erected conformed with those approved drawings,” said Cantrell, of Indianapolis-based Kightlinger & Gray LLP.

Palladium roof problems have persisted, and the city last month said the venue would undergo another $140,000 in repairs. Crews were to retrofit the roof trusses, a news release said, welding additional stiffeners and small plates into place.

Court records show those deficiencies were identified by the defense team during the legal discovery process. Steel Supply notified the city of “potential issues with certain trusses … at locations other than the dome roof” on Jan. 30, and Carmel responded with a remediation plan in late March.

But the city did not disclose details of its consultant’s analysis, an explanation of the plan or an estimate of the remediation costs, Steel Supply said in asking the court to exclude any truss-related claims from the trial.

Nation granted that request, issuing an April 29 order making it clear he would sustain defense objections related to evidence concerning the trusses.

CRC Executive Director Les Olds did not return a phone call from the Indianapolis Business Journal this week, but the city reportedly told the court that the truss damage is “independent from the issues raised by the complaint,” according to Nation’s order.

It was not immediately clear whether Carmel would take additional legal action related to the trusses.

The Indianapolis Business Journal is a sister publication of Indiana Lawyer.

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