Harmon Hotel case to be tied up in court well into 2014
Litigation over the flawed Harmon Hotel tower at CityCenter on the Las Vegas Strip will continue well into 2014 under a court order issued Monday.
Clark County District Court Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez, who is presiding over a massive lawsuit over $191 million in unpaid CityCenter construction invoices and defects at the Harmon, set a June 24, 2013, trial on CityCenter payment issues and a separate trial beginning Jan. 6, 2014, on the Harmon defect claims.
Previously, the entire case was set for trial in June 2013. The Harmon defect issues will be tried separately after a series of developments in recent days.
The 26-story, $275 million Harmon sits unfinished and empty after construction was halted there in 2010 after the discovery of defects generally involving missing or improperly installed reinforcing steel.
CityCenter, managed and half-owned by MGM Resorts International, blames general contractor Tutor Perini Building Corp. and its subcontractors. CityCenter plans to demolish the building, saying that's the surest way to deal with a hazardous structure that could collapse in an earthquake.
Perini, which blames problems at the Harmon on CityCenter design errors, says the Harmon can be repaired and that MGM Resorts is just trying to get rid of a building it doesn't need given the glut of hotel rooms in Las Vegas during the economic downturn.
Gonzalez this summer approved plans by CityCenter to demolish the Harmon, saying CityCenter could elect to do that as a business decision, but she withdrew that order Monday.
That was after CityCenter — at least on paper — last week elected to conduct further testing on the structure in hopes of uncovering more evidence that, according to CityCenter, the building is riddled with defects. The previous demolition order was based on findings that adequate testing of the building had been done. The election to do more testing undermined the previous finding that adequate testing had been done.
The testing typically involves the jack-hammering away of concrete to expose steel support systems.
However, with the lawsuit becoming more complicated, there may be no more testing.
That's because CityCenter is expected to continue with an appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court of an earlier order by Gonzalez regarding the locations of previous test sites in the building.
Gonzalez had ruled test sites like walls and beams were not selected randomly, so data collected couldn't be extrapolated to prove defects building-wide.
If CityCenter wins that appeal based on arguments its engineers chose the appropriate locations for testing and that they could extrapolate the results, further testing wouldn't be needed.
It's unknown how long the appeal will take and when CityCenter will, as expected, seek another order to demolish the building.