Cumberland Times-News

November 18, 2013

Hampshire Development Authority settles wellness suit for $1.1 million

Payment result of construction, design defects

MARLA PISCIOTTA
Cumberland Times-News

— ROMNEY, W.Va. — Calculating the figures on the Hampshire County Development Authority’s balance sheets filed for September and October, the Hampshire Wellness and Fitness Center lawsuit settlement is $1.1 million of the $1.4 million asked for originally.

From that figure, an unknown amount is to be paid to Valley Health for its part of the suit and $126,000 will be paid to the Hampshire County Commission for legal fees paid to the attorneys on behalf of the authority.

Members of the authority confirmed paying the $126,000 during a county commission meeting.

Over the course of more than a year, a total of $351,000 was given to the authority by the commission to help with the financial drain encountered as a result of design and construction defects at the Wellness Center. After receiving the reimbursement of legal fees, the commission was owed a balance of $225,000. However, during the Nov. 12 commission meeting, commissioners voted to roll back that money into the authority’s revolving loan fund, and deemed the $225,000 a grant.

The $1.4 million civil suit was filed Feb. 24, 2012, by the Hampshire County Commission and the Hampshire County Development Authority to recover damages and losses they say were suffered.

In September 2012, all parties signed an agreement to set up mediation on the suit.

Parties involved in the mediation include defendants Somerset Steel Erection Co., Rummel, Klepper and Kahl, architect Robert T. Eckels and Somerset Steel Erection Co. as a third-party plaintiff vs. Consolidated Electric, Air-Row Sheet Metal Co., Hetrick Masonry, and G.A. Largent and Associates as third-party defendants.

The mediation agreement forbids anyone involved to release the settlement terms to the public.

Final papers of release have not been filed in circuit court, said Judge Charlie Parsons on Monday morning.

“That order has to be passed around for all parties to sign,” Parsons said.

He said he had not received any papers from the authority’s attorney, John Meadows of Steptoe and Johnson.

“I’d like to comment, but I, along with the entire EDA, are bound by the formal agreement not to comment on this subject,”  Jason Hicks, president of the authority, said Monday afternoon. “Averting the settlement amount, I can say that it has been a very painful process that has been extremely consuming throughout our involvement. Now that we have settled old business, we are better able to focus on assisting with the economic opportunities of Hampshire County.”

Contact Marla Pisciotta at marlapisciotta@frontier.com.