UO’s Global Scholars Hall construction lawsuit continues over a year later

Just over a year ago, the University of Oregon filed a lawsuit over design faults in the concrete foundation of Global Scholars Hall. The UO is suing the firms associated with the building’s construction, which finished over five years ago.

Chief among the firms is Hoffman Construction, an Oregon contracting company based in Portland. Also involved in the suit is the architecture firm that designed GSH, Zimmur Gunsul Frasca, and the engineering firm that planned the building’s foundation, Cadena Consulting.

The university states that Hoffman Construction was responsible for overseeing “preconstruction and construction phase services” of GSH and that they hired out ZGF as an architecture partner on the project back in 2010, who in turn hired Cadena. UO’s claim is that GSH’s cement foundation is cracking and sloping, creating extra costs and problems with the building’s functionality. The most notable of these connect the design flaw to faulty electrical and plumbing systems as well as physical defects leading to modifying spaces and furniture.

UO Communications Director Tobin Klinger said that the building’s defects do not put residents in any danger.

“I want to stress that there is no safety concern here,” Klinger said. “This is simply about design flaws that led to repairs that we believe the people who constructed the building should be responsible for.”

Third-party appraisals of the building and claims by the defendants confirm that there are no safety risks posed by the cement deflection.

Legal teams for each party declined to comment on specific details of the ongoing case.

Here is a timeline of the major actions in this lawsuit:

March 13, 2015: UO files its initial complaint with Marion County Circuit Court for $8.5 million in reparations.

April 20, 2015: Cadena Consulting responds to the allegations, saying that it was not responsible for the building design or construction. The firm says that it should not be implicated since it was a third party and only listed in a few of the university’s allegations.

June 29, 2015: Hoffman Construction responds to UO’s allegations by denying responsibility for the building design. While Hoffman acknowledges that the cracking in serviceability repairs exist, the firm asserts that the university’s approval of the plans makes it responsible for paying for damages.

Dec. 11, 2015: UO amends its complaint to specify more of the repair and appraisal costs necessary to address the faults, and it clarifies the roles of each of the defendants as they pertain to the building contract. Specifically, UO points out that Hoffman construction assumed responsibility over the design and either did or should have known about the defects before building on top of a faulty foundation. The amount of reparations is increased in this amendment to just under $43 million.

Feb. 19, 2016: Hoffman motions to have its involvement in this suit and the allegations against it dismissed since it was not the licensed designers on the building contract. The firm also asserts that UO’s complaint “muddied the waters” of this suit; therefore, the doubt being created should be enough to dismiss the claims.

April 19, 2016: Judge David Lieth denies Hoffman’s motion to dismiss the allegations.

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Troy Shinn

Troy Shinn

Politics News Reporter for the Oregon Daily Emerald. UO Senior studying Journalism and Film.