UM Curators launch lawsuit in response to OPA damages

Following the displacement of 464 students from their homes at Oak Place Apartments (OPA), the Curators of the University of Missouri filed a lawsuit on March 22, citing errors in design and construction of the residential building at 5050 Oak St.

The lawsuit – filed in the Jackson County Circuit Court–lists 34 entities responsible for “recklessness” that led to a number of cracked PVC pipe risers, causing damage to flooring, drywall, finishes and outside areas of the building, creating unsafe levels of mold.

“PVC piping is temperature sensitive. When it has hot water going through it, it expands. The key point in all of this is that in the design and construction, it is intent that you allow for that movement that you would anticipate,” Robert Simmons, associate vice chancellor of administration said in a December 2017 interview with U-News.

“What would cause this to occur is the plumbing in the design and construction did not allow for the movement to occur, and that put stresses on the pipes, causing them to break.”

Damage to OPA caused the school to force 464 students out.

Included among the companies listed in the lawsuit are Gould Evans Associates, who designed the architectural layout of the 10-year-old building and JE Dunn Construction, the general contractor for the project.

JE Dunn has personal ties to the university. Terry Dunn, the former President and CEO of the company, currently serves as an officer on and was formerly the chairman of the UMKC Foundation Board.

According to Simmons, in a March 2018 interview with U-News, JE Dunn has been working with the university in addressing the issues with the 178-unit apartment complex.

However, after repairs began after the north wing of the residential building was vacated in December 2017, the university discovered damage was far more extensive than anticipated and may ultimately led to the demolition of the complex.

Spokeswoman Megan Krtek with Gould Evans told The Kansas City Star, the company “believes it performed its services appropriately on this project. We look forward to working with the University to understand the issues recently identified.”

According to the records listed by the Jackson County Circuit Court, the next proceedings in the lawsuit are set for a Case Management Conference on July 16.

Stay tuned for a more detailed report.

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