School Board settles lawsuit with design firms

The Lafayette Parish School Board voted Wednesday to approve a settlement agreement offered by two design firms that were party to a lawsuit the board filed in 2008 alleging shoddy work in the design and construction of one of its schools.

The School Board filed the 2008 lawsuit against the school’s contractor, Ratcliff Construction; Corne-Lemaire Group, its architectural design firm; and Beaullieu & Associates, its engineering firm.

The suit claims faulty design and construction led to $2 million in repairs needed at the school for water intrusion and related damages.

The school, then known as N.P. Moss Middle School, is now the David Thibodaux STEM Magnet Academy.

Construction of the school was completed in 1999, and based on a state law that limited the time to bring claims against a construction company, Ratcliff Construction was dropped from the suit.

Claims against Corne-Lemaire and Beaullieu & Associates were initially thrown out based on a similar statute of limitations law.

However, challenged on appeal based on the law that was in effect when the school construction ended, the companies were kept on the lawsuit.

The details of the settlement were not released Wednesday by the board’s attorney, Tim Basden.

“Corne-Lemaire and Beaullieu reached a settlement,” Basden said. “There was no finding of liability or malpractice of any kind.”

The firms worked with the board to reach an agreement, Basden said.

“The principle problems were related to construction, but the lawsuit wasn’t filed timely” Basden said.

The board filed a malpractice lawsuit against its first attorney handling the matter, Paul McMahon, but the board dropped the malpractice suit against him earlier this year.