Hospital Sues Architects Of Its New Facility For $8 Million

JohnCarl McGrady •

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Nantucket Cottage Hospital is suing CannonDesign, the architectural company responsible for designing the new hospital facility on Prospect Street, and is seeking $8 million in damages for an alleged breach of contract, negligence, and malpractice.

According to a complaint filed in Suffolk Superior Court last Friday, Cannon’s plans for the new hospital, which opened in early 2019, violated a series of state regulations, costing NCH millions.

Among the many violations outlined in the complaint, NCH claims that to appease the Historic District Commission, Cannon designed non-load-bearing exterior walls with flammable cedar shingles—a clear violation of fire safety codes. This violation has prevented NCH from receiving full Medicare and Medicaid licensure, forcing them to apply for temporary waivers as they work to fix the problem. Ultimately, they claim, redesigning and rebuilding the walls will cost millions.

With a final price tag of the new hospital at $89 million, the damages sought in the lawsuit would equal roughly 9 percent of the total project cost.

NCH also alleges Cannon initially submitted plans for an operating room with a structural steel column directly beside an operating table, a decision the complaint calls “contrary to common sense” and a breach of Department of Health regulations. NCH claims that because the operating room was the starting point for construction, the entire interior of the hospital had to be redesigned after the violation was found.

In addition, the complaint says that Cannon submitted plans for various rooms with insufficient floor space, failed to design a functional HVAC system, and failed to respond in a timely manner when confronted with the various flaws in their plans that prevented them from receiving state approval. NCH also says they had to rewire lights to meet emergency lighting requirements, and a generator because the cable was not up to code due to Cannon’s missteps.

Cannon Design declined to comment on the lawsuit.

According to NCH, the regulatory violations significantly delayed the construction of the new hospital, forcing NCH to extend its temporary workforce housing through the summer, which dramatically increased costs. In addition, NCH alleges they had to bring in additional oversight and outside expertise to solve the problems Cannon created, which further increased expenses.

“Nantucket Cottage Hospital has brought this complaint simply to enforce the terms of its contract and recoup the costs associated with correcting Cannon’s design errors and associated delays in construction,” NCH said in a statement. “The hospital remains licensed and certified, and the suit has no bearing on current operations.”

This isn’t the first major lawsuit brought against Cannon. In 2016, the design firm agreed to a $12 million settlement with the Justice Department and the Department of Veterans Affairs after admitting to a kickback scheme that landed one Cannon executive in prison.

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