Owner of collapsing Jefferson City building sues neighbor

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JEFFERSON CITY- Andy Neidert's building on the corner of East High Street and Madison Street has been collapsing and held up by beams since June.

He filed a lawsuit against his neighboring building, owned by Carol and Ruben Weiberg. The lawsuit is based on an agreement from 1898, which protects the owner of 200 East High Street, Neidert's exact location, if it becomes "condemned."

Neidert's attorney, Marshall Wilson, said Neidert wants to demolish his building, but he believes his client is not responsible for the damage to the shared wall next door. He said it is not unusual for a document from the 19th century to uphold to today.

"Those agreements are in effect as long as the buildings stand and they run with the land," Marshall said.

The agreement gave the owners of 202 permission to attach their building to 200's as long as that wall stands. However, if the building is "condemned," the owner of the corner building would not be responsible for the repairs to 202.

"Unfortunately, the old... 1898 document says she is there by permission until Andy's wall fails and Andy's wall is failing," Marshall said.

The Weiberg's attorney, Dave Bandré, says any damage to his client's building is Neidert's responsibility.

"If my client comes out with a damaged or destroyed building, they're not gonna just swallow that," Bandré said.

He says he and his client believes things could have been done to prevent the collapse in the first place.

"I don't think that document in any way, gets them out of liability but that's for a court to decide," Bandré said.

Building official, Larry Burkhardt, said the word "condemn" is not specific enough, but "city code refers to conditions that would make it a dangerous building and in general it is structurally unstable."

He said anything can be fixed with time and money, but it's hard to settle the situation when there are 3 different parties involved with 3 different financial interests. 

"We're running out of time and there's not a lot of money, so now the city would have to start a process."

Burkhardt said if nothing is done to repair or demolish 200 East High Street, there will be damage to 202. If there is a "catastrophic failure," he said it could potentially damage 204 as well. 

He said the specifics are still developing. An engineer is scheduled to inspect the building later this week.

If there's no decision by October 24, the city will begin its process to demolish the property.