Larimer County settles fairgrounds lawsuit

Larimer County has resolved its lawsuit with the designers, manufacturers and builders of the metal buildings at The Ranch, Larimer County’s Fairgrounds. Larimer County will receive $14.8 million for a full release of all claims.

The lawsuit stemmed from the December 2006 snowstorms that damaged the roof structures in the buildings. Subsequent forensic engineering studies of the buildings revealed that they were underdesigned and could not withstand the planned snow loads. The building defects did not include the Budweiser Events Center or the McKee 4H Youth & Community Building.

The Neenan Co. LLLP was a named defendant because of its responsibilities as general contractor for the project. Other defendants included Eaglespan Steel Structures Inc., the manufacturer and designer of the defective buildings; Bullock Smith & Partners Inc., the overall project architect; Kenney and Associates, the local architect; KL&A, the structural engineer; and Delta Construction Inc., the subcontractor that built the metal buildings. Also included as defendants were the erectors of the buildings and the outside inspectors. All defendants contributed toward the final payment and settlement.

The settlement was reached after an intensive mediation effort on the eve of trial, which was set to begin Jan. 10. Throughout the litigation, Larimer County and Neenan, in the lead role for the defendants, worked together to resolve the dispute and arrive at an outcome that would ensure the proper design and performance of the buildings, according to county officials.

The Exhibition Building was previously rebuilt with funds provided by the county’s property insurer. The other metal buildings have not yet been repaired or replaced. The original construction cost of the remaining metal buildings was $11,551,191. Larimer County still has pending a suit against its property insurer for failure to cover the snow damage. That case remains unresolved at this time.

Larimer County Commissioner Steve Johnson said what is most important to him is getting what the taxpayers paid for as well as functional and safe buildings.

“The settlement is a good deal for both parties because it gets the buildings rebuilt and avoids what would be a long and costly series of lawsuits,” he said.

Randy Myers, president of The Neenan Co., said he is glad to put the litigation to rest.

“Although The Neenan Co. inherited the issues with the buildings from the original contractor for the Fairgrounds project, we felt it was important to the citizens of Larimer County to achieve the most favorable resolution possible,” he said. “We look forward to continuing our long-standing relationship with Larimer County.”

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