Blame is being passed as the Redmond School District seeks to recover millions of dollars for a broken HVAC system in Ridgeview High School.

In all, nearly 10 businesses have been named in civil filings related to a faulty Daikan-brand heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system installed during the school’s construction in 2011-12. Those firms include the general contractor, Skanska USA, and the Bend-based mechanical subcontractor, Oregon Cascades Plumbing and Heating, as well as the system’s manufacturer and the sales rep.

Since the project was completed, school officials have experienced problems keeping the building’s temperature regulated, according to Kevin Eike, attorney for the district.

Stopgap measures have been attempted over the years, Eike said, but the problem grew large enough that last year the district called for an independent evaluation that revealed the heating and cooling issues were more widespread than thought.

The district is seeking $2.7 million in damages.

“The school kind of went as far as it could with the guys that put Humpty Dumpty together,” Eike said. “It was time to pursue legal remedies.”

John Ahlers, attorney for Skanska, said the parties are working toward a resolution and declined to comment further.

Ridgeview was the main component of a $110 million bond measure approved by voters in 2008. The 280,000-square-foot, two-­story structure cost $75 million and can accommodate 1,400 students.

But the HVAC issues have meant trouble balancing temperatures across the building, notably in the media lab, computer lab, wood shop, auditorium and gym, Eike said.

“Up to this point, we’ve done the best we can with the forces we have to make things as comfortable as they can be,” Eike said. “But the nature of the problems is more widespread and systemic than can just be fixed with stopgap measures.”

In February, Redmond School District 2J filed for arbitration against Skanska USA. That month, Skanska filed a third-party claim against Oregon Cascades Plumbing and Heating.

No hearings have been set in either matter. But Tuesday in Deschutes County Circuit Court, Oregon Cascades sued the sales rep for the Daikan system, Oregon Air Reps.

“OR Cascade denies that there are any defects to the project, that there are damages to the project or that it is liable to the school district,” said the suit filed by Oregon Cascades. “However, to the extent that any defects or damages are proven, then they result from a breach of duty by Oregon Air Reps.”

The system may require full replacement at significant cost, according to the district.

The likely outcome will involve a settlement in private arbitration, which is a requirement of the district’s initial contract with Skanska. A majority of construction defect cases in Oregon are resolved through alternative dispute resolution.

Portland construction attorney Jeremy Vermilyea said construction defect cases where the parties seems to be working cooperatively can often turn adversarial when dollar amounts grow and insurance companies get more involved.

“Ultimately where 90 percent of these cases end up is in a multiparty mediation over a couple days and trying to get the (insurance) carriers to put money in a bucket that is sufficient to get the owner to accept a resolution,” said Vermilyea, who is not involved with the case.

— Reporter: 541-383-0325, gandrews@bendbulletin.com

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