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Leaky high school roof brings lawsuit

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The Sumner School District is being sued more for than $1 million in damages by Garco Construction over the their rejection of the construction company's roof over Bonney Lake High School.

Soon after the district opened the high school in 2005, leaks were noticed throughout the building, primarily in the gymnasium, but in other spots throughout the 173,500 square foot facility.

In turn, Sumner rejected the roof.

“It wasn't performing,” District Communications Director Ann Cook said. “It's not the roof we paid for.

“Nobody wants to see damage to the facility,” she said.

Because the district did not take final acceptance of the building, Cook in February said the responsibility for fixing the roof, along with the cost, falls to the contractor.

Garco is the general contractor of the building, a contract worth $29 million.

Garco is currently replacing the roof, but doing it “under protest” according to the suit, filed Sept. 6 in Pierce County Superior Court. The project began in June and is expected to be completed next month.

The Spokane-based company's lawsuit alleges the district “improperly rejected” the roof and claims that it was built to the specifications provided by the district and its architect, Erickson McGovern Architects.

“Garco steadfastly performed the roof work in conformance with the school distirct's plans and specifications, but, in spite of such effort, the roof leaked and the roof work was improperly rejected by the School District,” reads the complaint.

Garco is seeking damages of at least $1.09 million.

Cook said there is no determination as to the cause of the leaks, but the district was within its right to reject a roof that even Garco agrees leaks.

“We feel we have the right to reject a roofing system that failed to perform,” Cook said. “And we did.”

“We believe that's not our problem,” said Garco Construction Manager Steve LaRue.

Garco's attorney, Thomas Chochran of Witherspoon, Kelley, Davenport and Toole of Spokane, was not available for comment.

Brian Beckley can be reached at bbeckley@courierherald.com.

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