Ascension sheriff sues company over roof leaks

Ascension Parish Sheriff Jeff Wiley has sued Mandeville-based builder Devier Construction LLC and two insurers over a new $3.3 million training center with persistent roof leaks.

Wiley recently declared a public emergency to do an estimated $130,000 in immediate repairs to the roof of the Sheriff’s Training and Operations Center, 9094 St. Landry Road, the lawsuit alleges.

Filed May 28 in the 23rd Judicial District Court, the breach-of-contract suit seeks to recoup the cost of the roof repairs and of any other structural damage that may or may not be known.

The suit claims leaks have lingered for a while, but Gonzales lawyer R. Ryland Percy III, who represents the Sheriff’s Office in civil matters, said recent heavy rain led to significant leaking in some parts of the building.

“You could see it, and it looked like a shower head,” Percy said Monday.

Wiley alleges in the suit that his office has reported water leaks needing repair to Devier Construction 15 times between March 2012 and February 2013. Devier made one unsuccessful attempt to fix the leaking in August.

The suit alleges Devier Construction has not responded to the sheriff’s warranty claims since December, “although the roof currently remains defective and continues to cause damage to the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s property.”

State business records say Thad Devier, of Covington, is the sole officer of Devier Design Build LLC, the new name for Devier Construction. He did not return telephone and email messages for comment Monday.

In late September, Wiley and Sheriff’s Office officials marked opening of the center on 68 acres near Lamar-Dixon Expo Center. Construction ended up taking 18 months, seven months longer than expected due to “weather issues and construction issues,” he said.

The center was paid for with saved tax revenue. BASF donated the site.

Chief Deputy Tony Bacala said Monday the new center is in operation and occupied. He said work on the roof was authorized to start this week.

Bacala said roof leaks causing the most concern are in the section devoted to classroom space, including a men’s bathroom and a mechanical closet.

The insurers named as defendants in the suit are Ohio Casualty Insurance Co. and Phoenix Insurance Co. Ohio Casualty guaranteed a performance bond for Devier’s construction contract, the suit claims.