Manatee County Government Administrative Center Commission Chambers, First Floor 9:00 a.m. - May 5, 2015
May 5, 2015 - Regular Meeting
Agenda Item #12

Manatee County v. Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum, Inc. (HOK); Emergency Operations Center roof failure


Contact and/or Presenter Information

James A. Minix, Chief Assistant County Attorney

Trudy Morris, Legal Assistant, Ext. 3762

Action Requested
Motion to authorize the County Attorney's Office to pursue all appropriate legal action including filing and prosecution of a lawsuit against HOK arising from the Emergency Operations Center roof failure.

Enabling/Regulating Authority
Chapter 125, Florida Statutes

Background Discussion

Manatee County is located in a hurricane hazard zone and needed an emergency operations center which could manage all aspects of emergency services during tropical storms and hurricanes.  In 2007, Manatee County received a sub-grant from the State of Florida, Division of Emergency Management for the purpose of designing and constructing a County emergency operations center (EOC) building.  The EOC had to be capable of being fully activated during an emergency and being able to sustain operations. 

Under contract with the County, HOK designed a roof assembly for the EOC and engaged a full time on-site representative to monitor the construction of the roof for the EOC.  In 2013, there were indications that the roof system would not meet the wind uplift requirements and life expectancy that was originally stated.  It was determined that the materials were failing, in part, because of HOK's design and failure to conduct moisture testing. 

The County retained experts to recommend cost effective repairs in 2014.  The new roof system was installed and now meets the County's requirement for a roof to withstand 200 mph wind speed and a 20 year warranty. 

HOK was informed of the roof failure and given the opportunity to participate in the design solution.  Negotiations continued with the other two involved parties, Balfour Beatty and Sutter Roofing.  The County entered into settlement agreements with these two parties (with Balfour contributing $50,000.00 toward the repair costs), which settlements were approved by the Board.  The EOC roof was subsequently repaired to the County's satisfaction. 

HOK was then requested to settle with the County for its responsibility for the design of the roof.  Negotiations with HOK are continuing, but it now appears that HOK is taking the position that it bears no responsibility for the design of the EOC roof, any of the damages sustained by the EOC building, or the costs of the subsequent repair.

The County Attorney's Office, therefore, requests authority to take appropriate measures, including the filing and prosecution of a lawsuit to obtain reimbursement from HOK for the expenses caused by the roof failure.

County Attorney Review
Other (Requires explanation in field below)

Explanation of Other
CAO item

Reviewing Attorney

Instructions to Board Records
Return an "approved" copy of this agenda memo to Trudy Morris at the County Attorney's Office via email to Trudy.morris@mymanatee.org.

Cost and Funds Source Account Number and Name
The total costs of litigation are unknown at this time; Fund 0010020502 / Property Management General Fund

Amount and Frequency of Recurring Costs
The total costs of litigation are unknown at this time.