Wawenock repairs continue, as does court case that stemmed from facade’s partial collapse

Tue, 04/02/2024 - 10:15am

    Wawenock LLC knew of issues with the downtown Wiscasset building’s masonry facade before hundreds of bricks fell off in April 2021, an insurance company claimed in defending itself in a 2023 civil suit Wawenock brought in Lincoln County Superior Court. In its complaint, Wawenock claimed it is out $1 million-plus in repair costs and lost commercial income.

    A pre-trial conference was set for April 9 over Zoom. The insurance company’s lawyer told Wiscasset Newspaper March 29, he had just filed a joint request by the parties for more time on discovery. 

    James Poliquin, for Patrons Oxford Insurance, and Mark Robinson, Wawenock spokesman, each told Wiscasset Newspaper the parties hope to resolve the insurance dispute without the court having to decide it.

    Patrons’ filed response to the suit claimed an engineering expert, years before the bricks fell, recommended addressing issues with the masonry. The April 2021 incident is not covered, Patrons Oxford Insurance has not paid and “settlement discussions and offers have been made,” Poliquin told the court a year ago. 

    Wawenock’s complaint blamed the facade’s partial collapse on decayed steel ties that were “hidden from view.” Prior to the partial collapse, Wawenock “had no actual knowledge of the decayed or corroded steel ties that anchored the exterior wythe with the two inner brick wythes ...,” Robert W. Weaver of Irwin & Morris law firm in New Gloucester wrote in the March 2023 complaint.

    Robinson, contacted before the parties’ extension request, said the April 9 date would be “a simple status hearing to determine whatever progress the parties are making toward resolving a private disagreement about an insurance claim. Very routine. As most people are aware when you submit a claim to an insurance company, that can start a long series of hoops you have to jump through. This is one of them.

    “That disagreement is no longer connected in any way to the ongoing restoration of the Wawenock Block. The Doering family made the decision that the structure, built before the start of the Civil War, would be restored no matter what. The work proceeds, and downtown Wiscasset will retain this important piece of history,” Robinson said via email March 21.

    Wiscasset Town Manager Dennis Simmons mentioned the case to selectmen after he noticed it on a court schedule for April 9 that also listed the 1 p.m. oral arguments in Wiscasset’s appeal of Maine Board of Environmental Protection’s upholding of Maine Department of Environmental Protection’s granting of Maine Yankee’s tax exemption.