IAG awarded nearly $18m in court ruling

IAG has been awarded close to $18m following recovery action against the Invercargill City Council and engineer Tony Major, whose actions were agreed by the High Court to have contributed to the dramatic collapse of the roof of Stadium Southland in September 2010.

Read some media coverage about this in the Otago Daily Times or Southland Times.

IAG’s Deputy General Counsel – Dispute Resolution, Seamus Donegan, said that the judgement vindicated IAG’s decision to pursue a recovery.

While no lives were lost in the incident when the roof collapsed following a heavy dump of snow, it was more through good fortune than anything else, Mr Donegan said.

The incident happened on a Saturday morning when a junior tennis session had just finished and only eight people were in the building. All managed to escape to safety.

“There could have been even more disastrous and likely fatal consequences if the roof collapsed at a time when more people were in the stadium.”

Stadium Southland, which was build in 2000, had capacity to hold around 2000 people and was a popular Invercargill venue that hosted games for the Southern Steel netball team.

“Important lessons about safety in the construction of community buildings have been learned from this case which will be of benefit to all council’s going forward,” Mr Donegan said.

The High Court judgement noted that there was no dispute over how and why the stadium roof failed. The combination of poor quality welding and a failure to follow the plans and specifications for remedial work to the roof trusses meant the roof was unable to carry the snow loadings experienced that day.

The Court found, however, that the Council was negligent in issuing a code compliance certificate on 20 November 2000, for remedial works to the stadium roof trusses, when it had no information before it to conclude the work complied with the building code. As such the court ruled that the Council’s negligence “was causative of the loss.”

IAG took recovery action through the Southland Indoor Leisure Centre Charitable Trust, which owned and managed the stadium on land leased from the Council. NZI had paid the Trust around $20m through the Trust’s insurance cover, enabling the Trust to move ahead with the building of a new stadium, which opened last year.

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