Indianapolis Central Library Wants Their Due

LEBANON, Ind. — Attorneys for the last remaining firm targeted by the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library in the botched Central Library project asked a Boone County jury for healthy skepticism today, the opening day of an expected six-week trial.

Thornton Tomasetti, a New York-based engineering firm, and one of its managing principals are accused by the library of fraud by concealing flaws in its designs of a parking garage and lying to library officials about the soundness of the structure. The library is requesting $24 million in damages against the engineering firm.

The case is rooted in the expansion and renovation of the Central Library in Downtown Indianapolis. The then-$103 million project ballooned by nearly $50 million after cracks and gaps were discovered in the concrete of a new parking garage five years ago, causing library officials to halt construction for more than a year.


Wow! Good For Them..... I wish more libraries would hold outside contractors & vendors responsible for poor craftsmanship, services not provided, faulty equipment, etc.


a compete waste of taxpayer money trying to blame engineers who get paid less than 1% of the cost of construction.

After library loss, lessons learned?
Indianapolis Star
April 20, 2009

Barring a spectacular late-inning rally, the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library Board will finish its long season of Central Library litigation with a .500 batting average.

That's not bad, considering the current troubles some other publicly funded edifices have been facing lately.

But it's not good, seeing as taxpayers may be on the hook for roughly $25 million that might have been saved had the board hired a general contractor for Central and not tried to head up the complex expansion project on its own.

Be that as it may, the board seemed well on its way toward recouping all or most of the $50 million cost overrun after successfully suing various parties involved in the bollixed construction. Those settlements added up to about $25 million; the remainder was sought in a lawsuit against the design engineer, Thornton Tomasetti of New York.

A Boone County jury last week spoiled the run, clearing Thornton Tomasetti of fraud and sticking the library board with a $712,000 counterclaim for good measure.
While the victorious defendants were quick to accuse the library folks of squandering taxpayer money in frivolous litigation, the plaintiffs deserve the benefit of the doubt for pursuing an avenue that did, after all, yield $25 million worth of success.

Now, the board must decide whether to follow the unpromising course of appealing the verdict, or to cut its losses.

Against the possibility of a rainy day in court, the board won approval for $45 million in bonding authority. The hope was that a litigation sweep would cover the whole sum; getting halfway there certainly helped. Not that the taxpayers can be expected to turn cartwheels on American Legion Mall below the gleaming $153 million landmark that was supposed to cost $103 million.

In the library's defense, the construction cost overrun for Central approximated the Capital Improvement Board's projected shortfall for next year alone. And while the CIB's problems result from tax-funded sports facilities used by for-profit entities, Central Library is a free public asset financed with $43 million in private donations, a far higher percentage of the total than Lucas Oil Stadium or Conseco Fieldhouse can claim.

That said, the grand and popular monument to culture that soars over the north end of the Mile Square bears a legacy of missteps, shortsightedness, petty politics and amateurism that will not soon fade away. Nor should it. Regardless of the ultimate resolution of the make-up game, the lessons herein need to be read, re-read and committed to heart.