Contractor Negligence to Blame for 2015 Yeager Airport Landslide

The failure in 2015 of the world’s largest engineered slope at Yeager Airport in Charlestown, WV was one of the most egregious examples of contractor negligence this state has ever seen. It was due to faulty construction of a runway extension the airport installed several years earlier. The damage suffered by nearby residents because of this historic failure totaled in the millions of dollars.

The airport filed a lawsuit against multiple contractors who were involved in the project, which resulted in an eight-figure settlement for the airport. Our own Timothy Bailey was one of the attorneys representing Yeager Airport and the Central West Virginia Regional Airport Authority in the landmark litigation.

It all started in 2003, when the airport decided to create a 500-foot extension (“safety area”) to the southernmost end of Runway 5, which required the construction of a man-made hillside and involved the use of an engineered material arresting system (EMAS).

The $25 million project involved 10 contractors. Triad Engineering designed the project and Cast & Baker led the construction of it, following Triad’s design. Most of the construction (of the project) was completed in 2007, although some peripheral projects continued for several years after.

Airport officials began to notice problems with the runway extension five years before the landslide that produced the massive collapse of the man-made hillside/slope in March of 2015, a collapse that destroyed a church and a home and caused widespread damage to several other homes in the area.

In a general inspection conducted on October 29, 2010, airport staff noted “EMAS damaged sections deteriorating.” Further signs of trouble appeared in 2013, with an airport maintenance worker noting “Large separation in blocks and shifting in blocks…Cracks in asphalt.”

Airport officials expressed their concerns to Triad and Cast immediately after noticing the problems with the EMAS, and they were essentially told not to worry about it. The airport continued to perform regular inspections of the EMAS, and they commissioned at least two engineering studies of it, both of which found that it had shifted by several feet.

Triad told airport officials that shifting/settlement of as much as 24 inches was “within normal range”, and up until March 11, 2015 – the day before the catastrophic landslide – Triad continued to maintain that the chances of a hillside collapse were “very slight”.  

The Runway 5 extension project at Yeager Airport was improperly designed, improperly tested, not properly inspected, and not properly monitored by Triad and the other contractors involved, and we are proud to have been part of the legal team that made sure these negligent contractors were held to account.

What is Contractor Negligence?

The Yeager Airport runway extension failure was an example of contractor negligence on a massive scale – it was a faulty construction project that went on for several years and caused millions of dollars in damage to those affected. But sadly, this was far from an isolated incident.  Contractor negligence happens all too often, and it is one of the major reasons there are multiple websites dedicated to contractor reviews and ratings.

Every residential and commercial property owner who undertakes a construction project runs the risk of faulty work being done, which can result in major property damage and personal injuries.  When you hire a professional contractor, you have the right to expect that all workers and subcontractors that are part of the project will be competent, well trained, and will perform their work and services with skill, care, and diligence. And when a contractor fails to live up to the reasonable duty of care owed to you and it results in damage to your structure and people getting hurt, those who suffer damages deserve to be fully compensated.

Some examples of contractor negligence that can result in compensable damages include:

  • Failure to obtain the required permits and licensing;
  • Negligent selection of workers and subcontractors;
  • Failure to properly train workers;
  • Failure to observe and follow all safety regulations;
  • Poor communication between workers and subcontractors;
  • Faulty project design;
  • Using substandard/faulty materials in an effort to cut costs;
  • Defective/faulty work;
  • Reckless or dangerous behavior at the job site;
  • Equipment accidents caused by negligent or reckless actions;
  • Overcharging or improperly charging for materials and services.

Have you Suffered Losses Due to Contractor Negligence in West Virginia? Call Bailey, Javins & Carter to Discuss your Case

If you or someone close to you has been injured or suffered property damage due to a negligent contractor in West Virginia, Bailey, Javins & Carter is here to help! Call our office today at (800) 497-0234 or (800) 296-6979 to schedule a free consultation and case assessment. You may also send us a message through our online contact form.