Tampa Bay Water, a regional supplier for three counties on the west coast of Florida, is expected to ask for a new trial after losing a $100 million civil suit last week for what it claimed was a faulty reservoir design, according to published reports.
After a nearly month-long trial, a federal jury did not accept the water utility’s argument that the reservoir cracked each time it was in use because of design problems by HDR Engineering Inc.
“We feel strongly that the public shouldn’t have to pay twice for a fully functioning reservoir,” Tampa Bay Water general manager Gerald Seeber said in a statement after the verdict. “HDR certified its design and the construction to the state, so we believe HDR is liable.”
Seeber said all legal options are being explored, including an appeal if the agency fails to win a new trial.
The 15.5-billion-gallon reservoir went into service in June 2005 and cracks soon began to appear in its embankment. HDR claimed the problem was due to faulty construction, and not the design.
Tampa Bay Water sued HDR in 2008, and has paid $10.6 million in legal fees, published reports said. The engineering firm could seek reimbursement of millions in legal fees from the utility.
The agency has $1.05 billion of outstanding revenue bonds rated AA-plus by Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor’s, and Aa2 by Moody’s Investors Service.