Pontiac Silverdome owners file lawsuit over damaged roof

Pontiac Silverdome owners file lawsuit over damaged roof

Posted: 08/08/13, 12:00 AM EDT |

An aerial view of the shredded roof of the Pontiac Silverdome, pictured Tuesday June 18, 2013. (Oakland Press Photo:Vaughn Gurganian)

The owners of the Pontiac Silverdome have filed a $23 million lawsuit against their insurance company after the company allegedly denied the owners repair coverage after storms last winter.

The roof was deflated on Jan. 3 after city officials said there was a small tear.

At the time, an employee for the Silverdome said that the roof was deflated intentionally, but it was later reported the roof was damaged by the weather.


Now the Silverdome owners, Triple Investment Group, allege their insurance agency, Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company, will not provide them coverage for the damaged roof.

The lawsuit states that before Dec. 24, 2012, one of the stadium’s four furnaces became inoperable, though this alone did not affect the roof.

After a series of attempts to get the furnace fixed, another furnace failed, leading to ice accumulation on the roof.

On Dec. 29, 2012, a large piece of ice "unexpectedly slid down the roof directly over the area of the inoperable furnace after the area experienced an approximately five-and-a-half-hour accumulation of wet, misty snow and ice conditions."

This event led to the ice ripping through the roof’s north side and falling into the interior seats below, according to the suit.

The hole in the roof was originally about 5-by-20 feet, but it later grew.

Silverdome employees contacted officials at the Metrodome in Minnesota — knowing they had experienced a similar incident. They directed the Silverdome to their contractor, who did a temporary fix because they said it could not be fixed until summer 2013.

The temporary fix was made on Dec. 31, 2012 and lasted until the following day. The owners of the Silverdome decided to deflate the roof to prevent further damage on Jan. 3.

On Jan. 20, another storm destroyed the roof completely by shredding the material. A similar storm and damage occurred in 1985, the lawsuit states.

The Silverdome has a $90 million insurance policy with Hartford, said Southfield attorney David Shea of Shea, Aiello & Doxsie PLLC. Shea is representing the Triple Investment Group.

"We were grossly disappointed in our insurer because they never gave this claim any significant investigation and attention," Shea said. "Instead, they just denied it without expressing reasonable basis to do so."

Shea said after the accident with the ice, the insurance company came out and inspected the furnace and claimed the problem must have happened after the accident. He said the situation has "baffled" him and his client.

In July, the Triple Investment Group was denied its claim.

A spokesman for the Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company said the company does not typically comment on pending litigation. He also said he does not believe the company has been named in any suits.

Shea said: "I specialize in the insurance business and I have yet to see a claim handled in such a flippant way."

"The Silverdome is an icon and I don’t know if they understand that," Shea said. "Everyone was hoping the new owner would restore the Silverdome to what it once was."

Shea said he is hopeful the Silverdome owners will win their case.

"You have a horrible situation where the roof is destroyed and your insurance company walks away from you when you’ve paid all of your premiums. on time, it doesn’t say much for the Hartford. Hopefully the court system will help the problem," Shea said.

The City of Pontiac sold the Silverdome at auction in November 2009 under the direction of then-Emergency Financial Manager Fred Leeb to Andreas Apostolopoulos of the Canada-based Triple investment Group LLC for $583,000.

The stadium was completed in 1975 at a cost of $55 million. The 80,000-seat Silverdome was the home of the Detroit Lions from 1975 until Jan. 6, 2002, when the team played its final game in Pontiac before moving to Ford Field in Detroit.

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