The insurance company for Union College is blaming the city of Schenectady and a construction company for a massive flood at the school that caused the company to pay out more than $1.7 million in damages to the school, according to a new lawsuit.
Hartford Fire Insurance Co. paid out the damages to compensate the school for the July 30, 2014, flood and the resulting damage to Old Chapel, Hale House, South College and the school’s popular Rathskeller gathering space.
The Rathskeller, a pub-like focal point for students in the basement of Old Chapel, took the brunt of the damage. It remained closed throughout the 2014-2015 school year and only reopened last month.
The insurance company filed suit this week in state Supreme Court in Schenectady County against Schenectady and Altamont-based Carver Construction seeking full compensation.
The insurance company contends work being performed near the campus on water mains and city waterlines caused the resulting water main break and flood, according to the suit. Having paid out money to the college, the insurance company gained the right to sue.
The college itself is not a party to the suit.
The break occurred at about 7:30 that evening in a main buried under the circular driveway in front of Old Chapel. The deluge damaged the nearby campus buildings, the suit reads.
Hartford alleges the city was negligent in performing the water main work, causing an over-pressurized situation or otherwise damaging the main, and that it failed to properly supervise its workers or Carver. The company also contends the city was negligent in failing to shut off the water supply to the ruptured main in a timely manner.
Hartford makes similar allegations against Carver.
Representatives of Carver could not be reached for comment Friday. City Corporation Counsel Carl Falotico said the city has received the paperwork and will take appropriate actions.
The Rathskeller reopened in September after a year’s worth of restoration work. An article on the college’s website put the total renovations at $2 million. Water in the basement space ended up 5 feet deep.
The original Rathskeller opened in 1949 and became a spot for students to gather for pub food and discussion.
The new Rathskeller includes a better flow and modern amenities, according to the college.
It also includes salvaged remnants of the old space, including a student-painted mural and an irreplaceable round table that features the carved names of students from decades gone by.
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