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Home / Verdicts & Settlements / Jurors reject developer’s claim for flooded apartments

Jurors reject developer’s claim for flooded apartments

A St. Louis jury deliberated for less than an hour before siding with two contractors sued by a nationally prominent developer of student housing regarding water damage to an apartment complex next to Saint Louis University.

Education Realty Trust sued general contractor Bokal Commercial Construction and subcontractor Excel Plumbing Inc., alleging that a failed pipe cap on plumbing lines installed after a 2012 fire caused water to flood and damage the building at 3949 Lindell Blvd.

Attorneys representing ERT did not respond to several requests for comment.

Defense lawyer Sarah Mangelsdorf, who with fellow Fox Smith Law partner Richard Korn represented the general contractor, cited several factors, including testimony by a plaintiff’s employee that she said suggested contributory negligence. She also pointed to the two-and-a-half years between the fire and the repair, which she said further weakened the plaintiff’s efforts to establish negligence.

“The jurors would have to connect multiple dots,” she said. “I just don’t think there was enough concrete evidence for the jurors to make that leap.”

The suit was first filed in 2016 and then transferred to federal court before it was returned to state jurisdiction. The jury reached its verdict on the trial’s third day.

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Venue: St. Louis Circuit Court

Case Number/Date: 1622-CC00702-01/Jan. 15, 2020

Judge: Michael Mullen

Plaintiff’s Expert: Adam Forest, Maryland Heights (mechanical engineering)

Defendants’ Expert: Carl Martin, Kansas City (mechanical engineering)

Special Damages: Plaintiff claimed $300,000 in losses from water damage

Last Pretrial Demand: $250,000

Last Pretrial Offer: $15,000

Caption: Education Realty Trust LLC v. Bokal Commercial Construction LLC and Excel Plumbing Inc.

Plaintiff’s Attorneys: Stephen Moore and Carolyn Geoghegan, Galloway, Johnson, Tompkins, Burr & Smith,
St. Louis

Defendants’ Attorneys: John Cooney and Patrick Meyer, Brown & James, St. Louis (for Excel Plumbing); Richard Korn and Sarah Mangelsdorf, Fox Smith, St. Louis (for Bokal Construction)


Correction: An earlier version of this post listed the wrong law firm for attorneys for one of the defendants. John Cooney and Patrick Meyer, who represented Excel Plumbing Inc., are with Brown & James. Also, the name of a different defendant, Bokal Commercial Construction LLC, was misspelled in one instance. We regret the errors.