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ICYMI: Cambridge Memorial suing over damage from frozen pipes

Damage from pipes that split after freezing caused an estimated $450K in damage at the hospital in February 2022
Cambridge Memorial Hospital

The following article was previously published by CambridgeToday.

A construction company and three subcontractors that completed work on Cambridge Memorial Hospital's B-wing expansion project are facing a $450,000 lawsuit from the hospital after frozen pipes split apart and caused extensive flooding in 2022.

The lawsuit, filed Jan. 31, claims EllisDon Corporation and its subcontractors are responsible for property damage, out of pocket expenses and other losses due to "wrongful and/or negligent actions and breach of contract."

CMH hired EllisDon as a general contractor in 2020 to finish up its $187-million expansion project after the previous construction company leading the work, Bondfield Construction Company Ltd., declared bankruptcy in 2018.

Guelph-based EllisDon subcontracted work to J.M.R. Electric Ltd. for plumbing and electrical, Biggs and Narciso Construction Services Inc. for construction, demolition and general services, and ABC Co. for design related services.

All are named in the lawsuit that extends from what happened two years later when, on Feb. 2, 2022, a fire alarm was activated due to a sprinkler leak near the B-Wing east entrance ramp leading to the hospital's MRI department.

The claim states staff investigated the leak and determined the pipes had frozen and split, causing water to leak and flood into the hospital's east entrance as well as the basement IT server room.

The water caused damage to the ceiling, walls, furnishings and various servers and other computer equipment that required complete replacement.

Further investigation determined "reheat coils" weren't plumbed properly to distribute heat along the water lines.

The statement of claim states representatives from EllisDon and J.M.R. "admitted" to hospital staff that one of the subcontractors had cut a hot water supply and return pipe and capped it, creating "the lack of heat to the curtain heater" reheat coils, which led to the other pipes eventually freezing and splitting.

The companies repaired the pipes and accepted responsibility but have yet to reimburse the hospital for damages stemming from the incident, reads the lawsuit.

None of the claims have been proven in court and a statement of defence hasn't been filed by the defendants.

This is far from the first time the hospital has attempted to recover losses related to breach of contract, delays and bad workmanship on the project.

The original general contractor hired to do the work was a numbered company associated with Bondfield, which went into receivership in December of 2018.

The CMH project was already experiencing a two-year delay at that time.

Ontario Construction News reported in 2020 that EllisDon was hired to complete the work "under an agreement designed to reduce the risk of further litigation or overage costs caused by the project’s delay."

A statement from CMH at the time said the hospital project cost would be fixed at the original $187 million.

The hospital received a $10 million settlement agreement to compensate for losses and delays after it launched a $14 million lawsuit against Bondfield, which was later dropped.