By Joe Lanane
Let the long-anticipated O’Donnell Park legal battle begin.
On Thursday, the Milwaukee County Judiciary, Safety and General Services committee will consider hiring legal representation if/when lawsuits are filed stemming from the June 24 accident in which a 34-foot piece of facade collapsed and killed a 15-year-old boy and seriously injured two others.
An independent inspection released in September suggested nearly every O’Donnell Park parking garage facade panel was installed incorrectly, which after two decades may have caused the east-side panel to give way.
Random Lake-based Advance Cast Stone Co. is responsible for installing the 13-ton facade panels, but that may not be the only company on Milwaukee County’s legal radar. County representatives may also attempt to hold liable the project manager, J.H. Findorff & Son Inc. of Madison.
Tim Schoewe from the Milwaukee County Corporation Counsel said Thursday’s approval is standard before getting the final green light at the Dec. 16 board meeting. He said the county’s legal response will hinge on who is ultimately at fault.
“I know it’s been 20 years since the building was constructed, but we need to explore whether we have a valid claim,” Schoewe said. “I think it’s clear from what’s already been discussed that construction did not occur per plan.”
The county already received a notice of injury from the victims’ families, according to Schoewe.
Consequently, lawsuits appear imminent, and Thursday’s standard hurdle is the county’s first legal response.
Whether the county’s legal team is on the offensive or defensive remains to be seen.
Joe Lanane is a staff writer at The Daily Reporter. He can be reached at (414) 225-1806.