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Article updated: 3/6/2013 3:42 PM

St. Charles firm sues for $13M after green roof collapse in 2011

The roof at Aquascapes in St. Charles collapsed in February 2011. The company filed suit last week.

The roof at Aquascapes in St. Charles collapsed in February 2011. The company filed suit last week.

 

Mark Black | Staff Photographer

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St. Charles-based Aquascape has sued nine contractors, architects and construction firms for $13 million in damages after a section of a green roof at the company's headquarters collapsed two years ago.

The collapse of a 500-foot by 60-foot section of the sloped roof, which contained prairie grasses and other plants, occurred Feb. 13, 2011, and did not injure anyone.

The damage resulted in a $13 million payout from Aquascape's insurance carrier to cover reconstruction and damages to the Wittstock family of Wayne, which owns the company, and the cost to relocate employees for a year while the roof was repaired, attorney Greg Aimonette said.

"A roof like that should never collapse. This building was five years old when it occurred," Aimonette said.

The lawsuit, filed recently in Kane County court, seeks damages from nine companies that worked on the 256,000-square-foot building at 901 Aqualand Way on St. Charles' southeastern border.

The roof has a gradual slope from the high point at the building's north end to the lowest point on the south end, which is a covered, open-air parking area that shares the same roof as the rest of the building. The roof is covered with numerous forms of vegetation to absorb rainwater and provide natural insulation for the pond company's headquarters.

"The structure was not appropriately designed and constructed," the suit states, arguing negligence and breach of contract.

Named as defendants in the lawsuit are: Artisan Design Build LLC and Senektekts, both of Monroe, Wis.; Tricon Construction of DuBuque, Iowa; Olsson Roofing of Aurora; Tecza Environmental Group of Elgin; Applied Ecological Services of Brodhead, Wis.; Metallic Building Co. of Houston; Area Erectors of Rockford; and Dewberry Architects of Fairfax, Va.

Kevin Caplis, attorney for Area Erectors, said he does not believe the company should be held liable for damages in the case. Caplis said the company only erected the steel shell structure and followed all blueprints, designs and drawings from other firms involved.

"It's our position Area Erectors didn't do anything wrong," Caplis said. "We didn't do anything else other than erect the steel. There were a lot of other companies out there that did a lot more than us. We did it exactly how it was supposed to be done. It's somebody else's responsibility."

Senektekts, Tricon Construction, Tecza, Metallic Building Co., Olsson Roofing, and Dewberry Architects either had no comment or did not return phone or email messages. The phone at Artisan Design Build would not accept messages.

The case is set for an initial court appearance May 16.

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