Row errupts over foundations that caused damage to a 5.4 tonne printer

A printing company has launched a legal battle for compensation of £3.9m in a row over foundations for its printing press in Plumstead, London.

Richard Edward Ltd is suing consultant structural engineer Michael Horrigan, trading as Michael Horrigan Associates, for damages over the foundations designed to support the weight of a ten colour printing press.

The company asked Horrigan to design a suitable foundation to support a Man Roland press weighing at least 5.4 tonnes in 2000, according to a High Court writ.

Richard Edward Ltd accuses him of breach of contract and negligence, and says he failed to exercise the reasonable skill and care expected of him.

The design was unsuitable for ground conditions because of the effect of vibrations from dynamic loads from the press, the writ says. The foundation defects did not appear until February 2006, when the press was damaged and card tore as it passed through the machine.

Tests showed misalignment in the bearings, and later revealed a gap in the concrete floor slab and the plinth supporting the drive side, the writ says. Because of the defective foundation design, the press had been subjected to abnormal flexing stresses, and became distorted, the writ claims.

Richard Edward Ltd says it could no longer use the press, unless it was shipped to Germany for investigation and repair, costing more than £1 million.

Repairs would also take 41 weeks, and the whole press would not be warranted, and the company decided instead to opt for a replacement press costing £1,676,773, the writ says. The damaged press was sold to China for £100,000 but sale costs amounted to £23,916.

The foundations also had to be replaced, work costs increased when 80% of the company’s printing was outsourced to five other printers in London, profits were lost, and other losses bring the total claim for damages to £3,902,260.07.