INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana Court of Appeals on Tuesday reversed a local trial court decision, giving the Allen County Public Library another chance to recoup almost $500,000 in diesel cleanup fees at the library.
“We conclude that the library is not precluded … from seeking recovery for pollution cleanup costs for property contaminated by the defendants’ allegedly faulty construction that is outside the scope of the work for which the defendants were contracted to perform,” the ruling said. “Namely, the defendants may be required to reimburse the library for cleanup costs of the land outside of the library building itself.”
The library sued several defendants in 2010 to determine who is responsible for a 2006 diesel fuel leak at the downtown library.
Last year, Allen Superior Court Judge Nancy Eshcoff Boyer ruled against the library, instead granting dismissal in the case to Shambaugh & Son, Hamilton Hunter Builders, MSKTD & Associates and W.A. Sheets and Sons. All were involved in the $65 million downtown library expansion and renovation.
More than 3,000 gallons of diesel fuel leaked into the ground below the parking garage. The library board contends the leak was caused when workers on the project mistakenly drove a steel stake through a pipe. The board is seeking to recover cleanup costs.
Boyer found the library had waived its ability to seek compensation for cleanup because of wording in the contract. The library also had obtained a small pollution cleanup insurance policy.
But the appellate decision disagreed, sending the case back to the local level for a possible trial.
The defendants have 30 days to decide whether to appeal the ruling to the Indiana Supreme Court.