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BIRDAIR HIT WITH LAWSUIT
OVER FAULTY STADIUM ROOF

Birdair Inc., the Amherst company that made the new roof for Olympic Stadium in Montreal, is being sued for $2.75 million after snow caused the new roof to rip and cave in during January.

The Olympic Installations Board filed the suit, charging that the roof collapse forced the cancellation of several trade shows, including the Montreal auto and boat shows. The board said its $25 million contract with Birdair called for a roof that could handle heavy loads of snow, according to the lawsuit filed in Quebec Superior Court.

A Birdair spokeswoman said Tuesday that the company is aware of the lawsuit but declined to comment until the firm is officially notified of the court filing.

The stadium board also said it had to make changes for other exhibitions that were coming into the stadium after the roof ripped. The board also is suing Birdair to force the company to pay for the costs of the experts who had to inspect the roof after the tear.

Birdair was in the final stages of installing the new roof when one of its 63 panels tore on Jan. 18, sending an avalanche of snow cascading to the stadium floor that slightly injured five workers who were setting up for the car show.

A fiberglass panel supporting the Teflon-coated roof, which is supported by an intricate web of metal cables, broke under the weight of the wet snow, causing the rip.

The roof collapse was the latest in a series of problems that have turned the stadium into a big money drain since it was built for the 1976 Olympic Games.

The roof that tore was the replacement for a $180 million retractable roof that never worked properly and wasn't even installed until 1987.

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