October 23, 2012

Kennebec Ice Arena suing insurance firms over allegely inadequate coverage

By Betty Adams badams@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

AUGUSTA -- The Kennebec Ice Arena Inc. is suing its insurance companies, claiming the policies were inadequate to deal with the March 2011 collapse and subsequent rebuilding of the Hallowell ice arena.

click image to enlarge

This aerial photo, taken Thursday, March 3, 2011, shows the collapsed roof of the Kennebec Ice Arena in Hallowell. The arena is suing its insurers, claiming coverages were inadequate for the damages sustained in the collapse.

Staff file photo by Joe Phelan

The roof on the old rink, which was built at a cost of $400,000 and opened in 1970, collapsed in March 2011. Three adults who were the only people in the building escaped without injury.

A new ice rink, the Bank of Maine Ice Vault, was constructed on the same site for an estimated $4 million, and it opened July 7.

The lawsuit, filed by attorney Michael Hodgins in Kennebec County Superior Court on behalf of the corporate entity that still runs the ice arena, names as defendants Gosline Insurance Group, of Gardiner; First Niagara Risk Management Inc., of Buffalo, N.Y.; and Willis of (Portsmouth) New Hampshire Inc.

The lawsuit claims the policies "were not specifically tailored to the needs of Kennebec Ice, failed to provide adequate coverage limits, failed to provide replacement costs adjusted for inflation, and were deficient in other areas."

It says the policies also "failed to adequately evaluate the anticipated replacement cost or demolition cost of the arena."

No dollar figures were included in the lawsuit. Two of the three defendants have responded to the complaint.

First Niagara Risk Management Inc., through attorney Matthew D. Cabral of Albany, N.Y., denies the allegations of breach of contract and negligence, among others, and in turn says the ice arena itself is partly or totally at fault for the damages.

First Niagara also filed claims against the other two defendants, the Willis and Gosline firms.

Willis, through attorney Timothy Shannon, denied the allegations in the complaint in a response filed Monday with the court.

Owner Peter Prescott received a tax break from Hallowell last fall to help finance the new rink. The city is to reimburse taxes on the value of the building over the first 10 years of its existence, saving Prescott $612,000.

The Bank of Maine, which has its headquarters in Gardiner, contributed toward the new arena and secured naming rights.

Betty Adams -- 621-5631

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