Courts

Lawsuits point blame for beam collapse at Pérez Art Museum Miami

 
CARL JUSTE / MIAMI HERALD STAFF

ebenn@MiamiHerald.com

The new Pérez Art Museum Miami is fighting a lawsuit that alleges two of its contractors failed to keep several five- to 10-ton concrete beams from collapsing during construction.

The lawsuit, which engineering firm Arup USA filed this week in Florida’s 11th Judicial Circuit Court, seeks nearly $7 million that Arup claims it is owed from PAMM and Florida-based contractors John Moriarity & Associates and Gate Precast Co.

“PAMM was included in the lawsuit based on its role as owner and in no way bears responsibility for any monetary damages claimed by the engineer,” museum officials said in a statement.

Arup alleges that John Moriarity and Gate should have noticed faulty bolts used to secure the concrete beams, which support the museum’s exterior garden canopies and weigh up to 19,000 pounds.

When three of the structures collapsed in November 2012, PAMM ordered the engineer and contractors to redo that entire part of the project. Arup says it paid for those changes and is owned the money from the museum.

The lawsuit, first reported by legal website Law360, comes on the heels of a federal suit that Gate Precast filed this month against Arup. In it, Jacksonville-based Gate, which manufactured and installed the concrete beams, says it spent $8 million fixing a mistake that Arup made by ordering the company to use the wrong parts.

“To protect the interests of the owner and to make certain the project was completed on time, Gate and general contractor John Moriarty of Florida replaced and repaired all canopy connections with a more robust, more expensive and safe material utilizing a new connection design,” said Gate attorney Brad Parrott, a partner at Atlanta firm Hudson, Parrott, Walker.

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