Sevier Building

Scorch marks are seen on the John Sevier State Office Building in Nashville on Nov. 24, 2020

The state of Tennessee is suing Hardaway Construction Corp. and its insurers over a fire that damaged the newly reopened John Sevier Building last year.

Attorney General Herbert Slatery, whose offices are located in the Sevier Building adjacent to the state Capitol, filed the suit in Davidson County Chancery Court on Tuesday. The litigation seeks $820,000 to cover damages from the fire, which reportedly started in a portable toilet left at the site by Hardaway.

The building, first opened in 1940, had at the time of the fire recently reopened after a $54 million renovation. It is home to the attorney general and some of the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

According to the litigation, neither Hardaway nor its insurers have agreed to pay for the damage to the downtown office building, despite the state's contention that their contracts require them to do so.

The fire “charred and defaced the exterior stonework” of the building and nearly reached the top of the five-story building. Several windows were also broken during the blaze. The state in part blames lax security including “multiple instances of trespass and theft of which Hardaway was aware.”

"We are aware of the unfortunate fire that occurred after Hardaway had turned the Sevier Building over to the state of Tennessee," a Hardaway representative said via email. "We have not yet had the chance to review the lawsuit, but we intend to defend ourselves vigorously. Hardaway remains committed to providing superior services to its clients as it has for the past 97 years, and we look forward to the prompt resolution of this matter."

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