The town of Addison, a Dallas suburb, has sued wind turbine manufacturer Urban Green Energy Inc. (UGE) and a subsidiary of engineering firm Landmark Structures for millions. The town claims the companies are responsible for installing a defective wind power system atop a city water tower that sent turbine blades flying. The suit was filed in Dallas County District Court, and claims that three months after the 2012 installation of a wind turbine system by Landmark Structures I. L.P. atop a town water tower, a turbine fell from the tower. The town claims a blade from another turbine fell off by the end of the year, damaging a nearby building, and after the whole system was re-engineered and re-installed in 2013, yet another turbine blade came loose.
The town of Addison said since the latest wind turbine malfunction in January 2014, the entire wind energy system has been turned off. The town is seeking unspecified damages of at least $1 million from both Landmark, which installed the turbines, and UGE, which manufactured the turbines, for alleged negligence, breach of contract and breach of warranty. “Both Landmark and UGE have failed to accept any responsibility for this latest failure of the wind energy system, and have failed to fulfill their duties owed to Addison,” the town said in the suit.
UGE CEO Nick Blitterswyk claimed in an interview that Law360 that the suit was a “total surprise” and that the company had been in discussions with Addison and offered to fix the defective blade at no cost. He said this offer of support typically wouldn’t be covered by UGE’s warranty. Blitterswyk also said the company was told by local police the turbine blade was damaged by a projectile and that although the blade was damaged through no fault of UGE, the company offered to make the necessary repairs. Blitterswyk said further:
We haven’t felt like we had a willing party on the other end of the line to discuss it with. We offered to repair any damage done, and we’ve been rebuffed.
John Sloan, one of the lawyers with the Sloan Matney firm representing Addison, said the town tried for a year to resolve the issue before filing suit. He says no offers came to him prior to his filing suit. Also in dispute is the cause of the turbine blade’s malfunction. Addison’s lawyers dispute the claim that the blade was damaged by some kind of projectile. It’s alleged in the suit that an investigation by Landmark and UGE was “inconclusive, but indicated that the blade flew off during a period of high winds.” But a UGE spokeswoman pointed out Addison’s mayor wrote in an April 2014 blog post “the blades appear to have been damaged from an unidentified foreign object.” Blitterswyk claims he wants to schedule a conference call between the three parties to try to work out the dispute.
Addison is represented by John Sloan and Douglas Lukasik of Sloan Matney LLP, a firm located in Dallas, Texas. The case is in the District Court of Dallas County, Texas. It will be most interesting to see what develops in this most interesting lawsuit.
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