Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Two Million Dollar Property Damage in Laurelmor

The following information was found in a federal lawsuit filed against Ginn/Laurelmor. The complaint: Bituminous Casualty Corporation v. West Contracting, Inc. et al.

In late December 2007 a massive 600 foot long by 110 foot high stacked rock wall collapsed at the Laurelmor golf driving range. This is one of 5 similar walls completed in the resort. The others were constructed at the maintenance facility, and near holes 4, 5, and 10 of the golf course.

Ginn-LA Laurel Creek Ltd. LLLP, owner/developer of the Laurelmor project and Ginn Golf, LLC, the prime contractor responsible for the golf course have demanded arbitration to determine whether the firms responsible for the wall's design and construction were negligent.

Ginn hired an outside engineering firm to investigate the cause of the failure and to examine the stability of the remaining walls. Ginns’ consultants state that a number of improper construction practices caused the wall to collapse. They also believe that the still standing walls "will have a short and predictable service life and could fail precipitously at any time."

Ginn and Ginn Golf seek a substantial award ($2,000,000) against the two firms named in the arbitration documents.

Ginn's Prior Knowledge of Hazardous Land Conditions

It is unknown how this dispute will be settled but interested parties should note the following pertinent information.

In April 2005 the Ginn Company acquired the original 5,700 Laurelmor acre tract from David Kaplan of Kaplan Holdings LLC for $57 million. The land was part of Kaplan’s Heavenly Mountain Resort. Prior to the sale Kaplan had received preliminary approval from the Watauga County Planning and Inspection Department for three Heavenly Mountain projects. Approval for these projects, including the golf course, transferred to the Ginn Company at the time of sale.

A state memorandum dated July 31, 2002 advised that the soils in the proposed golf course were highly erodible and that the construction as proposed would likely precipitate landslides. The report warned that "Extreme care should be taken to maintain the stability of these slopes at all times, and to keep undercutting of these slopes to a minimum."

In June 2006 Bob Oelberg, VP for Planning for the Ginn-Laurelmor project, contacted Soil Nail Launcher, Inc. for assistance with slope stabilization issues after the company's consultant had advised that geologic conditions would not permit construction of a critical access road.

The Ginn Company has failed to disclose significant land risks to their clients in their Laurelmor Federal Property Reports. Is it possible that they neglected to advise their contractors of the extraordinary care needed to develop on hazardous land?

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