Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Adverse Jury Verdict Stuns Tampa Bay Water

HDR Engineering of Omaha received a not guilty verdict from a federal court jury in U. S. District Judge James Whittemore’ courtroom April 10, 2012, exonerating it from Tampa Bay Water’s claim that HDR design errors in the 15.5 billion gallon Bill Young Resorvoir at Lithnia, Florida caused cracks in the reservoir’s six year old retaining basin.  The verdict follows the water authority’s rejection of a $30 million settlement offer from HRD last October, after the authority accepted settlements of $6 million from its construction manager and $750,000.00 from the general contractor. Tampa Bay Water’s trial lawyers had asked the jury to award it $73.2 million from HDR for repairing the cracks. The utility contended that excess pore pressure in the embankment caused the cracks, while HDR defended that a contractor’s improper soil placement was the cause.

The jury deliberations leading up to the verdict lasted a mere four hours after the case was submitted to them following a month long trial. The water utility said its lawyers told it to expect up to $97 million from the trial, towards the $162 million cost of renovating and expanding the six year old facility.

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