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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spokane Valley sets aside $700k as legal battle over sinking City Hall building continues

The legal battle between Spokane Valley and the contractors who built City Hall for $14 million rages on – and it’s getting more expensive.

On May 3, the Spokane Valley City Council agreed to set aside $700,000 to cover ongoing legal expenses and repair costs related to City Hall, which opened in 2017.

Roughly half of that money will go toward attorneys fees and other costs associated with the city’s lawsuit against the contractors who built City Hall. The other half will mostly cover construction expenses as the city continues to address issues with the 5-year-old facility.

With the additional $700,000 investment, City Council has now dedicated $1.7 million to its City Hall lawsuit and repair effort.

Spokane Valley staff moved into City Hall in September 2017. They quickly found structural problems with the new building.

One fundamental problem caused most of the issues: City Hall’s northeast wall was falling into the ground.

That sinking created substantial damage. Cracks appeared in the concrete flooring, drywall and the brick-and-mortar exterior of the curved City Council chambers. Water got into the City Council chambers, too.

So Spokane Valley sued Meridian Construction and other contractors who built City Hall, arguing that soils should have been properly compacted before construction. The city wants the defendants to cover the cost of fixing the building and reimburse legal fees.

Spokane Valley has already paid to fix several issues with City Hall, including the sinking problem. The city has installed micro piles – concrete and rebar pillars – to support the footings of the foundation.

It’s worth paying legal fees now because the city’s trying to get more money back, City Councilman Ben Wick said in a May 3 meeting.

“We don’t want to give up on litigation in the middle or toward the end here,” Wick said.

In its response to Spokane Valley’s Superior Court complaint, Meridian Construction – the same company that built Northern Quest Resort & Casino – tried and failed to get a judge to dismiss the request for damages. The contractor also wanted the Valley to reimburse its legal fees.

Since March, the Valley and the contractors have been in mediation, trying to work out an agreement. They’ve also been going through the discovery process, sharing evidence with each other in case the legal fight can’t be resolved and heads to trial.

The case is scheduled to go to trial March 6 of next year in Superior Court if the two sides can’t come to terms.