City of Nashua sues dam contractor

A slab pokes out of the Cedar River at the foot of the Nashua dam earlier this fall.

APRIL 6, 2023, UPDATE: A jury trial in the City of Nashua v. Minnowa Construction Inc. and United Fire & Casualty Co. civil case is scheduled to begin May 15 at the Chickasaw County Courthouse in New Hampton.

OCT. 24, 2022 REPORT: About a year after serious damage to the Cedar Lake dam was discovered, the city of Nashua has filed suit in Chickasaw County District Court against a Decorah construction company that worked on it in 2020.

Visible evidence of a problem can be seen near the foot of the dam in the form of a large slab of concrete poking out of the river.

The city filed its petition on Oct. 13 against Minnowa Construction, Inc., and United Fire and Casualty Co., asking for damages, all costs related to this action, and other relief deemed appropriate by the court.

United Fire is involved because it issued an improvement bond and agreed to act as a surety for Minnowa, making itself liable in the face of the alleged breaches of contract and warranty, according to the lawsuit.


About one year ago, at the Oct. 18, 2021, Nashua City Council meeting, structural engineer Nathan Miller from Origin Design, of Dubuque, told the council that an underwater inspection performed at the dam four days earlier revealed extensive damage to the repair work that was performed in 2020, he said.

The engineering firm would be submitting a warranty claim letter on the city’s behalf, Miller said, adding that he understood time was of the essence and the firm would expedite the situation and put together a plan of action.

The city’s lawsuit says, “Minnowa’s work was deficient, requiring immediate repair and replacement.”

In November 2021, the project engineer sent the initial notice to the company about the problems, but Minnowa did not respond, says the city’s lawsuit.

On or about Dec. 7, 2021, the project engineer sent Minnowa “a 10-day notice of deficiency and notice to correct,” the lawsuit says, “that, pursuant to the contract, required Minnowa to repair, replace, and correct the warranted work.”

Minnowa took no action and did not submit a formal response, plan or cure, the city says.

As a result of Minnowa’s deficient work, the structural integrity of the dam was
damaged, posing significant risk for future harm and requiring repair and replacement.

Neither Minnowa nor United Fire have filed their answers to the lawsuit, yet.


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