Stadium collapse claims fail

17:00, Jul 04 2014

The Invercargill City Council has lost two of its arguments to sue a company and its director over the collapse of Stadium Southland.

A preliminary High Court decision says the council can no longer pursue Omaha Investments Number 1 Ltd and Maurice John Harris for negligent advice in relation to the structural review and the design review of the stadium.

The judgment also struck off the possibility that the company had breached the Fair Trading Act 1986 in relation to the structural review and design review.

The judgment came out two years after the Southland Indoor Leisure Centre Charitable Trust's insurer, NZI, announced it was pursuing a claim against the city council and consulting engineer for $27 million, alleging there were defects in the design and construction of modification carried out on trusses.

The council denied liability and issued proceedings against Omaha Investments Number 1 Ltd and Maurice John Harris.

However, an application by Harris and Ohama Investments to have the council's argument that they did not exercise reasonable skill and breached their duty of care rejected was not struck off and their application was dismissed.

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That means the council can still sue them for a duty to exercise reasonable skill and care in carrying out the role as peer review structural engineer and providing remedial detail for a modified design.

"The council alleges that the third parties breached their duty of care in carrying out this role and that the third parties have caused or contributed to the trust's losses.

"As a result of these breaches it is alleged the stadium was constructed with a roof unable to deal with the wind and snow loads it was likely to experience," the decision says.

City council director of finance and corporate services Dean Johnston the council had little to do with the proceedings as its insurance company was handling it.

The council had paid the $10,000 excess on the insurance and no longer had direct involvement, he said.

Trust chairman Acton Smith said the trust was simply "spectators" in the court proceedings and it was between the insurance companies to sort out.

The trust had never wanted the proceedings to go ahead but NZI had pursued it, he said.

"We have not got an active role, in fact we were hoping nothing would ever happen with it."

An office manager for the Omaha Investment Number 1 Ltd's directors said the pair were not available for comment.

The Southland Times