The Herald Banner, Greenville, TX

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July 2, 2013

Trial date set in Hunt County jail lawsuit

GREENVILLE — A trial date has been set in a pending lawsuit regarding the construction of the Hunt County Criminal Justice Center.

But it will be next year before a judge hears testimony in the more than four-year-old suit.

Sides for the plaintiff, Hunt County, and the multiple respondents in the case agreed June 20 on a scheduling order for proceedings under the trial. Under the order, a final pretrial hearing will take place on April 16, 2014 and a trial before the judge of the 196th District Court is set to begin May 5, 2014.

The county’s attorneys are seeking to recover up to $30 million in damages from the litigation.

Hunt County formally filed suit against two Fort Worth firms in January 2009, accusing the engineers and architects behind the construction of the jail of failing to adhere to warnings the structure was being built on unstable soil. The building has reportedly experienced numerous problems with cracks in the walls and other damage since shortly after it opened. The county was originally seeking up to $10 million in damages.

In May 2009, the Commissioners agreed to a $770,000 settlement with Burns Architecture Incorporated, the architects involved with the construction of the jail. The company was later dismissed from the suit, which remained pending against Frank W. Neal & Associates, the engineers involved.

Seven defendants have been named in the suit.

The attorneys for Frank W. Neal & Associates have sought a change in venue for the trial in the suit, claiming the problems with the jail have been so heavily publicized in the Herald-Banner that the company could not receive a fair trial in Hunt County.

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