Heather Isringhausen Gvillo Mar. 11, 2015, 7:09am

Madison County Circuit Judge William Mudge granted two summary judgment motions and a motion to dismiss in a lawsuit alleging a woman was injured when she was struck in the head by a sheet of ice that fell from SIUE’s School of Engineering Building in 2011.

In his March 2 order, Mudge addressed motions for summary judgment from FGM Architects-Engineers and Branner Glass,  as well as a motion to dismiss by Williams Brothers Construction.

“These motions are predicated for the most part on the defendants’ assertion that the complaint brought herein is barred by the applicable ten-year statute of repose,” the order states.

Plaintiffs Joy and Gary Tedford accuse the defendants of negligently designing the roof, resulting in Joy’s injuries on Feb 2, 2011. They claim the defendants failed to install ice blocks or dams, failed to install sufficient room between the building and the pedestrian sidewalk and failed to install anything to reduce the danger of failing ice.

FGM was the architect-engineer for the School of Engineering Building, but claims it performed no design, engineering or architectural work of any kind after August 2000 when the building was occupied.

Williams Brothers was the general contractor on the project and claims construction was completed in September 2000.

In their separate motions for summary judgment, FGM and Williams Brothers argued that the plaintiffs’ claim alleging negligent design is time-barred because it was brought more than 10 years after their work was completed.

In its motion to dismiss, Branner Glass also argued that its work was completed in April 2000. It stated that it replaced a cracked glass panel on an interior stairway in February 2001 and replaced some faulty glazing in 2010. It also stated that its work had nothing to do with the design of the roof or sidewalk and its work was done according to specifications provided by the engineers. Therefore, “it had no reason to believe the specifications presented an unreasonable danger.”

The plaintiffs argued that documents indicate that in 2001, 99.6 percent of the work was reportedly completed. They claimed several mattes were addressed at a nine-month inspection, including landscaping in the area.

However, Mudge concluded that “none of these documents relate to the design of the roof, nor do they negate in any way the fact that both the design and construction of the roof was completed more than ten years from the date the claims were brought.”

Instead, the documents addressed “repairs, deficiencies, leaks and other minor matters.”

The plaintiffs alleged negligent design of the roof, but the documents they relied on were not concerned with the design of the roof at issue, Mudge wrote.

He explained that FGM established that its design work was completed by 1998, and that the actual construction of the building was completed in 2000. Williams Brothers established that its construction was completed in September 2000. Branner Glass established that its work was completed by April 2000.

“Plaintiffs’ submissions do not provide countervailing evidence that the design and construction work on the roof was not completed at the times alleged by these defendants,” Mudge wrote. “Plaintiffs’ complaint does not allege negligence on behalf of the defendants in supervising, managing or observing the construction of the building, but rather the counts against all defendants are focused on negligent design or failure to design …”

Joy Tedford initially sued in 2012. The case was voluntarily dismissed in March 2013 and refiled a year later.

SIUE was dismissed as a defendant in August.

The plaintiffs are represented by Randall P. Steele of the Steele Law Offices in Glen Carbon and William Meacham of Edwardsville.

Branner Glass is represented by John Cunningham of Belleville.

FGM Architects Inc. is represented by Philip J. Christofferson and Steven M. Cockriel of Cockriel & Christofferson LLC in St. Louis.

Williams Brothers Construction is represented by William Knapp of Knapp, Ohl and Green in Edwardsville.

Madison County Circuit Court case number 14-L-477

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