Defense attorneys in balcony collapse case debate whether estate agent owed damages to co-defendants

GRAND FORKS — A trial date has yet to be set in a case related to a Grand Forks apartment balcony that collapsed in 2019, but this week some of the defendants argued in court about whether the estate agent is entitled to damages from his co-defendants.

The five separate lawsuits stem from a Grand Forks apartment balcony that fell four stories in June 2019, taking five people with it. These five people – Paul W. Anderson, Elijah J. Hylden, Amanda J. Seim, Steven A. Thompson and Benjamin H. Thompson – are each suing for $50,000 in economic and non-economic damages.

The lawsuit alleges that the balcony lacked adequate facing materials and flashing to prevent water infiltration at support points. The lawsuit also alleges that the contractors used untreated and inadequate wood supports, failed to make support structures made of materials other than wood, and made other mistakes that led to the balcony collapsing. .

The complaint alleges that the negligence of several parties led to the balcony collapse at 3880 Garden View Drive: Edgewood Real Estate Investment Trust, EVI McEnroe Apartments, Investment Management & Marketing Inc., Community Contractors Inc., A&L Siding and Home Improvement Center Inc., Icon Architectural Group, and Dakota Commercial & Development Co. Each party would have had a role in the design, construction, or maintenance of the balcony.

On March 18, Investment Management & Marketing Inc. (IMM) filed a counterclaim against defendants Edgewood REIT, EVI McEnroe, Community Contractors Inc., A&L Siding and Home Improvement Center and Icon Architectural Group.

The counterclaim alleged that IMM entered into a property management agreement with EVI McEnroe on November 1, 2018, in which IMM was the realtor and EVI McEnroe was the owner. Through this agreement, IMM asserts that it is entitled to indemnity, or compensation for damages, from EVI McEnroe.

IMM also alleged that because EVI McEnroe and Edgewood REIT failed to assume responsibility for IMM’s costs and defense, it amounts to a breach of contract. She asks that the amount of damages to be paid be determined at trial.

Responding defendants responded that they were not liable to indemnify IMM, with reasons ranging from arguments that they had no control over the damages to arguments that IMM’s counterclaim did not was not founded in law.

In a hearing on Monday morning, August 24, attorneys representing A&L Siding and Home Improvement Center and Icon Architectural Group argued that because IMM did not become contractually bound to the property until nearly a decade after it was built , there was no legal reason for the contractor. and the architectural group responsible for any damage. They requested that the cross-filing be dismissed with prejudice, which means that IMM will no longer be able to raise the issue.

Presiding Judge Donald Hager asked if the dismissal was premature, since there had been no discovery in the case yet.

“The thing is, (Investors Management and Marketing Inc.) became a property manager after the fact,” said Barton Cahill, who represents A&L Siding and Home Improvement Center. “There need not be any further findings on this issue.”

Hager is expected to deliver his opinion on the matter in the coming weeks.

Penny D. Jackson