Garrett Andrews

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March 26, 2013
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South Umpqua School District sues contractor over middle school gym

MYRTLE CREEK — The South Umpqua School District is suing a Eugene contractor, alleging defects with the gym it built at Coffenberry Middle School.

The district is seeking $1.99 million in damages from Essex General Construction Inc. for negligence and breach of contract. The total includes $10,000 to cover the cost of moving equipment.

In the lawsuit filed in Douglas County Circuit Court, the district alleges numerous problems with Essex’s work, including “faulty workmanship, improper or defective materials (and) improper designs.”

“The construction defects at the gymnasium have allowed water intrusion and caused property damage to such an extent that the gymnasium has or will become uninhabitable,” the district’s complaint states.

The district contracted with Essex in 2002 to build Coffenberry’s gym. Architectural plans were prepared by Pinnacle Western Inc. of Roseburg, which has been named a co-defendant in the suit.

The gym was opened in 2008 and remains in use.

The defendants deny the school district’s allegations. Speaking in an interview Monday, Essex’s attorney, Jack Levy of Portland, disputed the district’s assessment of the gym.

“We’re working with the school district to present our point of view and the point of view of our consultants,” Levy said. “We believe the gym is actually well built.”

School district officials declined to comment.

A 16-day jury trial has been scheduled for April 2014.

A pretrial hearing in Douglas County Circuit Court is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Monday.

• You can reach reporter Garrett Andrews at 541-957-4218 or by email at

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The News-Review Updated Mar 26, 2013 12:27PM Published Mar 28, 2013 09:20AM Copyright 2013 The News-Review. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.