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Ex-Medgar Evers Employee Says ‘Fired For Blowing Whistle’

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

New York Civil Rights Lawyer Eric Sanders, Esq., of The Sanders Firm, P.C., alleges in a federal lawsuit filing that Former Medgar Evers College Chief Administrative Superintendent claims he was terminated for blowing the whistle about Administrative Building No.: 1 opening amidst fraud, corruption and serious safety violations

 

New York, March 5, 2016 – According to the lawsuit, Mr. Cory Wright, during winter 2007 the City University of New York (CUNY) began construction of Administrative Building No.: 1, aka AB1.

According to the lawsuit, during winter 2009 Wright was promoted to Chief Administrative Superintendent which included the overall management of the personnel assigned to buildings and grounds as well as the maintenance of all Medgar Evers College facilities. While AB1 was under construction, Wright requested and was granted access to the construction site. Wright claims, while making observations along with several trade personnel assigned to building and grounds, he noted serious deficiencies within the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems and immediately forwarded these serious deficiencies to the Campus Planning Director. Wright claims he documented missing air dampers and duct work, missing dedicated electrical services lines, dissimilar metal throughout the building, etc. According to the lawsuit, Wright claims after he filed his complaints, he and other MEC personnel were no longer allowed to inspect the on-going construction of AB1.

In Spring 2009 CUNY hired Hudson Meridian (Meridian), a professional construction management firm to oversee the construction and turnover certification of AB1, CUNY Safety Officer Esther Hundley was assigned to the Meridian account, according to the lawsuit. Wright claims, Meridian was paid one million dollars ($1,000,000.00) to supervise the commissioning of the AB1, the installation of furniture and lab equipment, training of staff, etc. Wright claims, AB1 was constructed in such an unsafe manner, to this day, it should be shut down and vacated for immediate repairs to its life safety systems and other systems.

According to the lawsuit, in fall 2010 CUNY informed the management of MEC that AB1 was fully commissioned and Meridian was ready to turn the building over although the cooling system wasn’t functioning properly. Wright claims, AB1s boilers were leaking and steaming at the explosion door. Additionally, the laboratories were positively pressured in direct violation of the OSHA Laboratory Code.

Around spring 2011 due to “inefficient communication” between the Fulton Steam Boilers and the laboratory environment, the laboratory had to be closely monitored, according to the lawsuit. Wright claims after a closer examination, he and his personnel discovered sensors were placed inside of the ductwork instead of the laboratory environment causing the drastic overshooting of humidification. The Building Management System (BMS) was therefore rendered useless to monitor humidity levels within the laboratory environment. Wright claims since the BMS couldn’t effectively monitor the humidity levels within the laboratory environment, personnel was assigned to manually monitor such levels (impossible) increasing the likelihood of a catastrophic system failure endangering the integrity of AB1, its occupants and citizens within the immediate areas surrounding the building.

Wright claims the poor design, installation and operation of the exhaust fans resulted in a cracked wall in the penthouse, cracked B wall in the basement and contributed to a gas leak in the gas meter room since 2010. Additionally, once the chillers began surging out of control due to water flow issues, CUNY met with executives of the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY) and original pre-commission vendors JCI and York. They determined the cooling system was poorly designed but, never resolved the problem.

According to the lawsuit, in spring 2012 MEC staff conducted testing on the gas valves and sensors both of which are not integrated with the BMS and Fire Alarm System. Although AB1 have over 300 sensors and house 40 laboratories, if an emergency alarm is activated, only occupants within earshot will be able to hear it. The gas sensors weren’t wired, calibrated or integrated with the BMS and Fire Alarm System. Wright claims several gas valves failed but, the failure rate was too high to attribute to manufacturing defects. When the failed gas valves were opened and inspected, shipping seals were broken, some had construction debris and oil residue from pipe threading indicating prior usage. Wright claims CUNY was notified of this significant safety issue but, it took no action. Since the gas valves weren’t functioning as scoped, the BMS and Fire Alarm System failing to communicate, this increased the likelihood of a catastrophic system failure endangering the integrity of AB1, its occupants and citizens within the immediate areas surrounding the building similar to the system failure at John F. Kennedy High School in the Bronx, Wright claims.

On February 10th 2015, Wright claims he went to the Office of the President of MEC Rudolph F. Crew to request a personal meeting with him to report fraud, corruption and safety violations in the workplace as an employee and citizen. Shortly thereafter, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Jerald Posman terminated him stating it was the “President’s decision.”

“It goes without saying, deficient life safety systems and other systems place the occupants of AB1 in jeopardy of serious injury or death due to a fire, gas leak or chemical spill, their ability to safety evacuate the building in a timely manner will be impacted due to the delayed notification to the building operator. The integrity of AB1 could be compromised as well further impacting its occupants and the surrounding stakeholders of the community,” says Wright.

“Needless to say, the allegations made by Mr. Wright are quite disturbing. He should’ve never been terminated for being a good citizen and doing the right thing, where others have failed. DASNY and CUNY have a legal duty to its occupants and other stakeholders to ensure AB1 is safe. AB1 must receive an immediate independent top to bottom inspection. Hopefully, there will be a full criminal investigation to recover the taxpayers wasted monies in the construction and turnover of AB1,” says Eric Sanders.

Eric Sanders, Esq., of The Sanders Firm, P.C., filed the federal lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York Docket No.: 16 cv 1108 on March 5, 2016.

About The Sanders Firm, P.C.

The Sanders Firm, P.C. offers those in the New York City area legal services related and connected to civil rights, civil service rights, criminal law and discrimination. We firmly believe in everyone’s individual rights that are described and guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States of America. We understand that our freedoms and liberties are sacrosanct and that they have been won in many and various hard-fought battles. We are committed in every way to protecting your civil rights. We are your voice for justice!

Contact

Eric Sanders, Esq.
President and Owner, The Sanders Firm, P.C.
Business Phone: 212-808-6515

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