Local business sues sign maker over design not up to windstorm specs

Kelly Holleran Jan. 21, 2009, 1:00pm

When Hurricane Humberto wreaked havoc on Jefferson County, one of its alleged victims was a $35,000 sign in front of the Nederland Marblecrafters.

But makers of the sign guaranteed it could handle winds of up to 120 miles per hour.

So after the storm passed through and Marblecrafters allegedly discovered its sign was destroyed, it filed suit against the owner of First Time Signs on Jan. 12 in Jefferson County District Court.

Marblecrafters hired David Sarles Jr., owner of First Time Signs, and Curtis Elbert Thiele to fabricate a new pylon sign in 2006, shortly after damage by Hurricane Rita, according to the complaint.

An engineer's drawing signed by Thiele on March 15, 2006, indicated the sign would be designed to withstand wind of up to 120 miles per hour, the suit states.

"At no time were there any exceptions, limitations or any qualifications added to either Defendant Sarles' proposal or Defendant Thiele's design, with respect to different parts of the sign," the suit states.

However, acrylic sign panels beneath the neon sign were damaged during the hurricane, the plaintiff alleges.

The company made a claim to its insurance company for damages, but is not able to obtain insurance on the sign, according to the suit.

That is because another professional engineer reviewed the sign and determined its acrylic sign panels and various other components do not meet the requirements of the Texas Department of Insurance for windstorm certification, the suit states.

No certification means no insurance on the sign, Marblecrafters claims.

Sarles and Thiele breached their contract by failing to insure adherence to wind zone and building regulations, according to the complaint.

They were also engaged in false, misleading or deceptive acts by representing the qualities of the sign, the suit states.

Marblecrafters is seeking unspecified actual, consequential, incidental, mental anguish, statutory and exemplary damages, plus attorney's fees, costs, pre- and post-judgment interest and other relief to which it is entitled.

It is represented by Wyatt D. Snider and Jason M. Byrd of Snider and Byrd in Beaumont.

The case has been assigned to Judge Bob Wortham of the 58th District Court.

Case No. A183-009

More News