Tampa Bay Water will see HDR Engineering in court; hopes to retrieve $90 million or so

02/20/12 Janelle Irwin
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Cracks in the new C.W. Bill Young Regional Reservoir were found in 2006. Then, Tampa Bay Water filed suit against the companies responsible for the damages including HDR Engineering. After a series of back and forth negotiations, the Tampa Bay Water Board voted unanimously today to approve an expedited process called a summary jury trial. The lawyer Tampa Bay Water has hired for the case, Richard Harrison, said the board has known for some time that a settlement wasn’t in the cards.

“There have been all sorts of settlement conversations back and forth over the course of the case. We’ve been set for trial for quite a while. We were set for trial back in July; we were set for trial in September. Through changes in the court’s calendar, it’s just taken us to March to get to trial.”

HDR Engineering agreed to settle the case with $30 million. Tampa Bay Water Board members almost accepted it back in October, but due to a technicality put the item up for vote again. The offer was then unanimously rejected. Now Harrison says Tampa Bay water is seeking full damages of more than $90 million.

“The evidence will be the cost of Tampa Bay Water’s interim repairs, all of the money we spent investigating to find out what was wrong, the money we spent making temporary repairs to the reservoir including grouting and filling cracks and hiring people to come monitor things and then the big element of our damages, of course, is the cost of the long term repairs.”

The trial will begin on March 12. If it moves forward as a summary jury trial as expected, Harrison said a ruling may take up to three weeks. However, if the case is set for a summary trial without a jury, it could come much quicker. In either event, there is limited witness testimony which will make the process faster than a traditional trial.

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