Asbestos Lab Settles with School District

Without acknowledging any wrongdoing, Brooks Laboratories, Inc., of New Haven, Connecticut, has settled their share of a multi-million dollar lawsuit filed by the New Canaan Public Schools over the renovation of the local high school building. In addition to Brooks Laboratories, other named defendants include O&G/AP Construction and architectural firm Kastle Boos Associates. The renovation project was planned in 2001 with an initial budget $61.2 million. The actual work began in 2004 following two years of planning and design work, and was scheduled to be completed on 1 July 2007. As work progressed, the unexpected discovery of asbestos in the renovation areas and under the building added an additional $13.6 million in abatement costs to the project. The final bill came to well over $74 million. Well into the second year of construction, the bill for costs of asbestos abatement had gone far beyond what had been initially budgeted. However, an investigation by local auditors, WCD Consulting, showed that the abatement could be performed for substantially less. Ultimately, it was the WCD audit that suggested Brooks Laboratories had not prepared its asbestos reports properly.

The bottom line was that New Canaan Public Schools was overcharged for asbestos work that had initially been estimated at substantially less. The WCD findings convinced Brooks Laboratories management that it was in the best interests of the company to settle the case. Christine Wagner, Chairman of the High School Building Committee, said, “We really always felt the report was lacking; looking back on it, from what we discovered, the report could have included more.” Brooks Laboratories settled with the school district for $1.8 million, which was covered by the company’s insurance carrier. City Selectman Judy Neville indicated that she was pleased with the settlement, saying that she “…[appreciated] the settlement offered by Brooks and its assistance in defraying the significant added expenses that the Town has incurred in the project to renovate the High School.” Neville also expressed her appreciation for the auditing and consultant work on the part of WCD. The City of New Canaan will receive about half the amount of the settlement once legal expenses and auditors’ and consultants’ fees are deducted.