The walls are a tumblin' down beneath the new athletic field behind Salt Lake's Judge Memorial High School, and the Salt Lake Catholic Diocese, which owns the school, has filed a $3 million lawsuit against the contractor who built it.
According to documents filed Monday in 3rd District Court, problems with retaining walls surrounding the base of the play field, which was built on an earthen backfill that used to be a hillside, date to August 2007.
At that time, part of the southwest portion of the wall, built of concrete blocks, "failed," with a section falling to the ground. At the request of the diocese, Hogan and Associates Construction, the Clearfield company that built the new field, fixed the problem.
Subsequent failures in the same section in January and March did not garner the same response from the company, according to the court filing. An additional problem surfaced in March, when a "substantial depression" appeared in the football field and continues to "expand vertically and horizontally."
"Despite written demand made by the Diocese, pursuant to the parties' contract, Hogan has failed and refused and continues to fail and refuse to repair the wall," the suit says.
Diocese spokeswoman Colleen Gudreau declined to comment, citing an ongoing legal matter, and an attorney representing the group in the case also declined to speak about the matter. The field is currently unusable.
Dwight Packard, Hogan's manager on the Judge project, said delays in implementing a repair trace back to insurance issues.
"We've been attempting to get the responsible insurance companies to get a fix implemented," Packard said.
Packard said the actual work of constructing the wall was performed by a subcontractor, and the design and engineering of the wall was conducted by yet a different company. Exactly where the liability lies is still a question.
John Shuttleworth is a principal partner at the Salt Lake architecture firm of Edwards and Daniels, the company that designed the field.
Shuttleworth said his company and a team of engineers has been in touch with the diocese and investigated the failure, although no conclusive answers to the problem have been found.
"At this point, it's too hard to say without conducting a forensic investigation of the problem," Shuttleworth said. That would involve investigating the geotechnical engineering of the earth fill behind the wall.
Calls made to the engineering firm involved with the project were not returned.
Both Packard and Shuttleworth expressed concern about achieving a resolution and both describe their relationship with the diocese in positive terms.
"Everyone involved is interested in finding an amicable resolution," Shuttleworth said. "But sometimes these things take on a life of their own."
When asked about the amount the diocese is seeking in damages for the failed wall, Packard said he was unsure about how the number was calculated, but thought it sounded "high."Court documents indicate the original contract for the work was nearly $4.5 million.