Beech-Nut Nutrition and its Swiss parent company Hero Group are suing a handful of companies they say are responsible for faulty construction that led to a 2011 roof collapse at their new baby food plant in the town of Florida.
The $128 million, 650,000-square-foot Beech-Nut facility was up and running less than a year when a heavy March snowstorm brought a large section of the roof down.
No one was hurt in the collapse, but Hero/Beech-Nut estimates that between the structural repairs, machinery replacement and lost revenue, the incident cost the company roughly $7 million.
While the storm dropped between 6 inches of snow at Albany International Airport and 21 inches in Richmondville, according to the National Weather Service in Albany, Hero/Beech-Nut alleges in the complaint that the roof would not have failed had it been constructed properly.
The lawsuit filed Oct. 17 in State Supreme Court in Montgomery County demands a $7 million settlement from Georgia-based Facility Group and New York companies Starzer Brady Fagan Associates, the Nucor Corporation and Vulcraft of New York, all involved in some aspect of roof construction.
According to the complaint, Facility Group was hired in 2007 to manage “all design, engineering and construction” of the new facility.
They in turn hired Starzer Brady Fagan Associates to engineer the basic steel joist, girder and column roof structure and Vulcraft of New York and the Nucor Corporation to build the pieces.
“The roof collapse that occurred on March 7, 2011, and resulting losses,” the complaint said, “were the direct ... result of the failure of defective roof joist girders supplied by Vulcraft and/or Nucor.”
The complaint further maintains Facility Group and Starzer Brady Fagan Associates are liable as well since they “either did not inspect the roof joist girders upon delivery … or conducted their inspections so carelessly so as to allow the defective roof joist girders to be erected and incorporated into the Beech-Nut Plant.”
The law firm handling Hero’s lawsuit, Finazzo Cossolini O’Leary Meola & Hager, did not return calls seeking comment for this story.
This is not the first time Hero/Beech–Nut has sued Facility Group over the Florida plant.
A complaint filed late last year alleged that Facility Group kept money that was meant for contractors during the building of the facility.
As construction progressed, the firm was supposed to pay all the contractors with money from Hero/Beech-Nut through periodic requests for payment.
The suit claims Facility Group didn’t pay some contractors, retaining “money that it was not entitled to and [refusing] to make payments to subcontractors as required by the contract.”
That lawsuit sought a total of roughly $7 million.
Neither Hero/Beech-Nut nor Facility Group could be reached Monday for comment for this story.