OGMS roof repairs to follow settlement

NEW MANCHESTER–The Hancock County school board has settled its Oak Glen Middle School roofing lawsuit for an unspecified sum of money, court records said.

Superintendent Kathy Kidder-Wilkerson said the amount will be paid to the district in the coming months. “With that money, the roof will be repaired not replaced,” she said.

Kidder-Wilkerson said the work likely will be done in-house under the supervision of Director of Facilities and Maintenance Mark Dziatkowicz.

Some temporary repairs have already been made but will be made permanent to prevent future leaks.

“When it leaks, our men patch it,” Kidder-Wilkerson said. “We wanted to be able to protect the underlying structure and the contents of the school. That much was done.”

The lawsuit was filed in May in Hancock County Circuit Court against six defendants, including the contractor, the roofing subcontractor, the roofing manufacturer and the architect on the project.

The lawsuit was unusual in that it came 12 years after the middle school was completed. Problems with the leaking roof have persisted in the intervening years, prompting the board to finally take legal action.

Two inspections done in 2015 concluded that the problem was not with the roof materials but with the installation by Romig Roofing Co., and that repairs would cost in excess of $800,000.

An order signed by Circuit Court Judge Ronald Wilson notes that all the civil charges against the defendants are dismissed with prejudice, with the exception of Romig. Charges against the roofer were dismissed without prejudice in the event that the school district wants to refile its complaint within three court terms.

The other defendants were: James F. Baller Sr., of Wheeling; Colaianni Construction Inc., of Dillonvale, Ohio; Ohio Farmers Insurance Co. (Westfield Insurance); McKinley & Associates, of Wheeling; and ASC Profiles LLC, of West Sacramento, Calif.

The school board had previously reached settlements with Baller, the clerk of the works on the project, and McKinley, the architect.

Wilson’s order also said that the claims raised by the school board “are not enforceable” and that the defendants are relieved from liability for claims relating to the construction of OGMS. The building was completed at a cost of $6.8 million in time for the 2004-2005 school year, although the gymnasium and roof were not completed until January 2005.

Although final payment was made to Colaianni in December 2005, the school board said the contractor’s assurances that the work was completed “were a misrepresentation of a material fact” and “were made with advanced knowledge that the roof had not been properly installed.”

The suit made civil conspiracy charges against Colaianni and Romig, alleging that they “shared a common plan … to conceal from the plaintiff the defects in the roof.”

Roof leaks were detected during walk-throughs in July 2004, October 2005 and March 2006, the lawsuit said. Representatives of Colaianni made repairs after the latter, which involved the school’s recording studio, but only “a pretend performance to repair the roof” on the other two occasions, the suit said.

The suit then skipped ahead to 2014, when the board asked ASC Profiles to inspect the roof pursuant to a manufacturer’s warranty. The inspection in May 2014 led to a second inspection in July 2015, when Mansuetto Roofing removed panels so that they could be examined by ASC Profiles, the suit said.

In March, the board offered to settle the claims for $300,000, but the offer was declined by Colaianni and Ohio Farmers Insurance, the bonding company. Ohio Farmers Insurance had issued a performance bond in the amount of $6.8 million in May 2003, insuring the proper completion of the middle school.