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Aquascape sues contractors over 2011 roof collapse

Published: Friday, March 8, 2013 5:30 a.m. CST • Updated: Friday, March 8, 2013 6:19 a.m. CST

ST. CHARLES – A local company that specializes in making products for manmade ponds and backyard water features has filed suit against eight other construction-related businesses, alleging they are liable for the 2011 collapse of a large “green roof” at the company’s St. Charles headquarters.

Aquascape Designs Inc. of St. Charles and Wittstock Family of Wayne brought the action in Kane County court late last month, seeking $13 million in damages from the various contractors, led by Artisan Design Build, of Monroe, Wis.

Other businesses named in the suit include Olsson Roofing of Aurora; Tecza Landscape Group of Elgin; Tricon Construction Management of Dubuque, Iowa; Senektekts of Monroe, Wis.; NCI Group of Houston, Texas; Area Erectors of Rockford; Applied Ecological Services of Broadhead, Wis.; and Dewberry Architects of Fairfax, Va.

The action centers around the February 2011 collapse of a section of roof measuring 500 feet long by 60 feet wide at Aquascape’s headquarters.

Known as Aqualand, the headquarters opened in 2005. Among other unique features, company executives touted the facility’s “green roof,” a sloped structure, planted with prairie grasses, that extended over the building’s parking area.

After a storm that dropped 20 inches of snow on the region in early February 2011, the structure became too heavy, and the roof over the parking area collapsed, damaging an exterior wall of the building.

In its suit, Aquascape alleges the “structure was not appropriately designed or constructed.”

The suit specifically alleges that the contractors did not “properly determine whether the roof, as installed, would allow excessive loads to accumulate.”

After the collapse, Aquascape relocated operations until April 2012.

Aquascape received payment from its insurance company.

Representatives of all but one of the defendants could not be reached for comment.

But Kevin Caplis, a Chicago lawyer representing Area Erectors, said his client believes the Rockford company should not have been named in the suit.

Caplis said Area Erectors built the steel superstructure of the roof according to the specifications designed and required by other companies supervising the project.

The case is scheduled to be in court May 16.

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