Auffenberg claims underground drainage structures were defective

Andrea Dearden May 2, 2012, 10:31am


An O'Fallon auto dealership says the value of its property has been damaged because of an allegedly defective design of an underground drainage structure.

Auffenberg Dealer Group Inc. filed a lawsuit April 9 in St. Clair County Circuit Court against Ibrahim Engineering Corporation, Mohamed Ibrahim and St. Louis Prestress Inc.

Auffenberg says it hired Holland Construction Services Inc. in 1996 to design and build a new development known as the Auto Mall in O'Fallon. As part of that construction, an underground storm water detention structure was required and Holland contracted with Ibrahim Engineering to design it, according to the petition.

Auffenberg claims the area above the underground detention structure is prime advertising space to sell its cars and made it clear to Ibrahim that was how the dealership intended to use the space. Ibrahim allegedly designed the detention structure using hollow core planks despite knowing it had to withstand the weight of several vehicles. The hollow core planks were made by St. Louis Prestress, a company that builds heavy load construction components. Auffenberg says Prestress was also aware of the design of the detention structure and how the space above it was intended to be used.

In March 2002, Auffenberg says a section of the detention structure collapsed. He says inspections showed that several hollow core planks failed and that others were cracking. A month later, Ibrahim completed the repairs of the detention structure which allegedly included replacing the hollow planks that had collapsed with similar planks again provided by Prestress.

In July 2011, Auffenberg claims another portion of the detention structure collapsed and further inspections determined more than half of the 150 hollow core planks used to build the structure had cracks. Again, repairs were allegedly made by Ibrahim.

Auffenberg contends Prestress, in November 2011, revealed for the first time to the repair contractor that hollow core planks were insufficient to use in such a design for an underground detention structure. Therefore, Prestress allegedly refused to provide a warranty on the planks that were used in the repairs. In January 2012, Auffenberg says it was told by Ibrahim not to use the space above the detention structure given the repeated failures.

Auffenberg accuses Ibrahim of defective construction design and Prestress of breach of implied warranty, claiming it should have known the intended use of its planks and fraudulently withheld information that they were insufficient. The auto dealer asks for more than $100,000 in damages plus court costs.

Attorneys Ryan Mahoney and David Cates of Swansea are representing Auffenberg.

St. Clair County Circuit Court Case No. 12-L-174

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