ST. LOUIS — A $4.1 million judgment against the owner of a downtown parking garage that nearly collapsed has been affirmed by the Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District.
The three-judge panel concluded that garage owners Tucker Parking Holdings and Tucker Parking Equities are responsible for expenses related to evacuating and stabilizing a 50-year-old, multi-level garage located at 306-310 North Tucker Blvd.
The dispute that was litigated in St. Louis Circuit Court pitted garage operator Central Parking System against the Tucker defendants, which were found to be responsible for the multi-million dollar expenses by Circuit Judge David Dowd.
According to background information in the opinion, Central Parking System's lease agreement said it was responsible for maintenance and structural repairs, but the lease carried an exception for repairs "necessitated by normal wear and tear."
Tucker purchased the garage from the former owner in 2007. In 2013, Tucker hired an engineer to appraise the garage in order to determine which repairs Central Parking System could be responsible for before the end of its lease on March 31, 2015.
The engineer hired by Tucker indicated “widespread deterioration resulting from corrosion of the embedded reinforcing steel” and that there was approximately 21,500 square feet of delaminated concrete in the garage, according to the ruling. It further estimated $2.4 million in costs for concrete repairs, not including what the cost of repairs to the "post-tensioning" (PT) system would be.
When Tucker purchased the garage, it did not inspect the condition of the garage's PT system, the ruling says.
In the meantime, Central Parking System hired its own engineer, who determined that the garage's joist PT tendons were either broken or under partial tension and would cost $2.2 million to repair, the ruling states.
The parties ultimately filed suit against one another, and the trial court consolidated the actions.
A two-part trial was held, with the first resulting in a ruling that Tucker was responsible for costs and expenses related to the PT system failure because it was due to normal wear and tear.
The second part of trial concluded with the court finding that, among other things, "absent the efforts of Central, the Garage would have collapsed, and the shoring system installed by Central was necessary to avoid a catastrophic event.”
Appeals judges who affirmed the trial court were Judges Philip Hess, Sherri Sullivan and Gary Gaertner.