Three years after a third-story balcony of a Port Royal townhouse collapsed, severely injuring a man who lived there, a S.C. state agency has stripped a Port Royal building codes inspector of his commercial inspector license for his admitted role in the accident.
Daniel Lemieux lacks the professional competence to practice the occupation, committed an unprofessional act likely to harm the public and displayed incompetence, negligence or misconduct, the S.C. State Building Codes Council determined in an order signed Jan. 26.The decision came months after Lemieux waived his rights to a full, formal hearing and instead admitted to those allegations and others against him, according to the final order.
Lemieux and his attorney, Mary Lohr of Howell, Gibson and Hughes, could not be reached for comment Monday.
Without a commercial inspector license, Lemieux, who has worked with the town for more than 40 years, cannot legally review building plans or conduct inspections, town manager Van Willis said.
Port Royal will reassign Lemieux to other duties, including coordinating drug testing for town employees, doing preliminary tree evaluations and making sure departments are following safety protocol, Willis said.
"He was doing other duties for the town, and those things still have to be done," Willis said. "He's been with the town for over 40 years, and there's a lot of institutional knowledge there. ... We try to take care of our people."
Port Royal has another inspector on staff, although that person is not a certified building officer and cannot issue certificates of occupancy, Willis said.
The town has approached Beaufort County about using one of its certified officers when needed, Willis said.
The final order details events leading to the Feb. 12, 2008, accident, in which Donald Witfield fell 22 feet after a balcony attached to the Jefferson Commons home he was renting collapsed under him.
The home is part of four connecting units built in 2006 by Jeff Keever Construction in Port Royal. They include commercial space on the first floor and residential spaces on the second and third floors.
Lemieux failed to follow licensing laws when he issued a building permit to builder Jeffrey Keever -- who held only a residential builder's license and was unqualified for the mixed-use project -- according to the final order.
A forensic engineering evaluation after the accident concluded construction deficiencies compromised the balcony's structural integrity and caused it to collapse.
Lemieux should have detected some, if not all, of the deficiencies, the order said.
The order also said Lemieux delegated too much authority to another town inspector without proper supervision.
The accident sparked several lawsuits, including one Witfield filed against Port Royal.
Filed in February 2010, the suit claims the town's building inspector approved balconies that were "constructed in direct violation" of applicable building and design codes. The town then certified the building safe for occupancy, it said.
That case was dismissed without prejudice -- meaning the case could be refiled in the future -- in July, according to the Beaufort County online public index.