Defended Architect in First-Of-Its-Kind Claim By School District
Kegler Brown successfully defended an architectural firm against claims that it negligently “assessed” the buildings and facilities of a public school district. The case arose because the State of Ohio was providing substantial funds for school districts to completely refurbish their campuses based on an “assessing” architect’s determination of need; the assessing architect was assigned under contract with the Ohio School Facilities Commission. The school district alleged that it lost hundreds of thousands of state dollars because the assessing architect failed to adequately determine its needs. In an attempt to hold the assessing architect liable and create a cottage industry for plaintiffs’ counsel, the district threatened to file suit. Our lawyers determined the threat to be real and, in order to avoid venue in the school district’s small rural county, we recommended filing a declaratory judgment action in Franklin County based on the State’s involvement in the project. The school district filed a counterclaim and sought to change venue. However, the court ruled that venue was proper in Franklin County. Ultimately, the case was tried to a jury with a favorable verdict for the architect, which discouraged further lawsuits against assessing architects across the state of Ohio.