Claims – A&E Prof Liability

April 9, 2019

Lawsuits by condo associations against neighboring developers, builders are new norm

Source: https://www.miamiherald.com, April 7, 2019
By: Lindsey Thurswell Lehr and Susan C. Odess

Every South Florida construction boom brings with it a rise in defect claims by condominium associations against their buildings’ developers, builders and design professionals. The current wave of development has been no different, except that due to the proximity of new condo developments to each other, recently there has also been an increase in damage claims from associations that are neighboring construction sites.

This new litigation trend appears to have especially taken hold in South Florida, where several prominent condominium developers and contractors have been sued by adjacent associations for damages emanating from their construction sites. The lawsuits raise claims for structural damage, fallen stucco, splattered paint, excessive dirt, broken glass/windows, and other damage resulting from the construction practices of neighboring developments.

The insurer for the 1060 Brickell Condominium Towers brought a lawsuit alleging construction debris from Panorama, 1010 Brickell and the Bond damaged the two 1060 Brickell buildings. The lawsuit claims that the construction activities at these properties damaged 1060 Brickell’s facade, balconies, railings, pool deck, roof, cooling tower and other components.…

April 4, 2019

Developer built unsafe leaning condo tower to cut costs: suit

Source: https://nypost.com, April 3, 2019
By: Priscilla DeGregory and Tamar Lapin

Forget Pisa — New York has the leaning tower of South Street.

A brand-new, 58-story condo in the Financial District is listing north like a drunken investment banker due to a faulty foundation — a defect that could cause bits of the tower to fall to the street, a Manhattan civil suit claims.

The 3-inch tilt to the north on 161 Maiden Lane was caused by cost-cutting measures on the part of the developer, Fortis Property Group, claims the lawsuit, filed by project contractor Pizzarotti.

Fortis allegedly opted not to drive piles into the soft ground of the site by South Street Seaport on the East River before it laid the foundation, saving them $6 million, the suit alleges. “The building structure has settled and moved to such a degree that the structure is encroaching on a neighboring property line,” according to the papers filed last month in Manhattan Supreme Court.…

April 4, 2019

Contractor Sues Fortis Over ‘Unsafe’ Leaning Condo Tower Near Seaport

Source: https://commercialobserver.com, April 2, 2019
By: Rebecca Baird-Remba

Pizzarotti says it can’t finish the building at 161 Maiden Lane due to off-kilter foundation

A Financial District condominium tower is leaning, and the contractor on the project claims the developer is to blame.

The 670-foot-tall, 58-story apartment building under construction at 161 Maiden Lane is leaning three inches to the north, according to a lawsuit filed in New York State Supreme Court by the project’s contractor, Pizzarotti. An off-kilter foundation is affecting the building’s structural integrity, facade, waterproofing and elevators, the recent suit argues.

Developer Fortis Property Group, working with a previous general contractor, opted not to drive piles into the soft ground of the site by South Street Seaport on the East River before it laid the foundation because Fortis wanted to save money, the contractor claims in the suit. Instead, Pizarrotti alleges, Fortis decided to use a cheaper “soil improvement” method, which involves compacting and draining the damp earth to make it more stable.…

April 1, 2019

NY Considers Limiting Claims Against Design Professionals

Source: https://www.lexology.com, March 18, 2019
By: Paul S. Danner, Goldberg Segalla LLP

The New York Legislature is considering whether to enact a statute of repose that would limit the time for filing a claim against builders and design professionals for construction defects. Assembly Bill A3595 would repeal Civil Practice Law & Rules (CPLR) § 214-d in its current form and reenact § 214-d to codify a statute of repose similar to a significant majority of states.

If passed into law, Assembly Bill A3595 would provide for a 10-year statute of limitations for wrongful death, personal injury, and real property damages actions asserted against professional engineers, architects, landscape architects, land surveyors, and construction contractors. Under the language of the bill in its current form, the accrual date for the statute of limitations period begins to run at the date of project completion. Defects discovered during the 10th year after the project is completed would be afforded a one-year extension. The enactment of the bill would be a reversal for New York, which currently is one of two states without a codified statute of repose.

Under current law, engineers and design professionals are subject to liability for third-party lawsuits in perpetuity. Stated differently, engineers and design professionals may face liability for claims involving a property long after authority, maintenance, and supervision were turned over to the property’s owner/operator. This raises significant concerns, specifically when considering how a lapse of time may result in the destruction of evidence and the availability of reliable witnesses.

Despite years of consistent advocacy from the construction community to enact a statute of repose, similar versions of the bill have failed in previous legislative sessions, never receiving enough support for a vote on the Assembly floor. Similarly, the bill is currently in the Assembly Standing Committee for Higher Education, where it waits to be moved to the Assembly floor for a vote.

Should the legislature pass the bill into law, the statute of repose would take effect on January 1, 2020 with considerable impact on the design professional community in New York.…

March 26, 2019

New Jersey homeowners say dream home turned into a nightmare

Source: https://pix11.com, March 22, 2019
By: Christie Duffy

Rich and Tara Kazdan bought their dream home back in 2017.

“It was perfect. We were going to raise our family. This is the town I grew up in,” said Tara Kazdan.

But soon after, water started seeping through the walls and filling their basement, they said. The front steps have begun to separate from their house. Water marks are noticeable on the foundation walls.

“We can’t stop it. And we have no money left. We can’t sell. We feel so stuck,” she said.

Kazdan said they have spent close to $100,000 on engineers, experts and pumps to keep the water at bay, on top of the $765,000 they paid to purchase the brand new house on Sunset Road.

At one point they were running four pumps at once, churning out 6,000 to 10,000 gallons of water an hour, according to Kazdan.

The couple are now suing the home’s builder and architect. “People said they saw water down here when he was building,” said Tara Kazdan. “In June 2018, I was standing down here with the builder and he told me he did hit water.”…

February 22, 2019

Residents File Lawsuit Against Contractors, Verizon For 3-Alarm Gas Fire

Source: https://www.sfgate.com, February 20, 2019

Two San Francisco residents filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the construction company and contractors involved in a gas line rupture that caused a three-alarm fire earlier this month on Geary Boulevard.

According to the suit, plaintiffs Carina Kouyoumji and Nora Wixom are suing Mastec Services Company Inc.; Mastec Renewables Construction Company Inc.; Kilford Engineering Inc.; and Advanced Fiber Works Inc. Verizon Communications Inc. has also been named as a defendant.

Both plaintiffs live in one of the five buildings badly damaged by the Feb. 6 fire, which ignited after workers installing fiber optic lines near Geary Boulevard and Parker Avenue struck a PG&E gas line.

The lawsuit alleges the explosion was a direct result of the defendants’ “reckless and willful violation of California law of using a backhoe to dig a trench near subsurface installations.”

The California Government Code requires anyone excavating near a subsurface installation, such as a gas line, to use hand tools like a shovel.

The defendants are also accused of being negligent, causing a nuisance and trespassing.…

February 22, 2019

Naples-based Stock Development dealing with construction defects at Paseo in Fort Myers

By: Laura Layden

Tony Conte is tired of dealing with construction defects at his part-time home in Paseo.

While fixes have been made at his condominium, some projects have dragged out, leaving him frustrated.

Planks of wood reinforce his second-story balcony — and the manager of the Fort Myers community told him that it’s unsafe to use and not to walk on it, although Conte has to step on it to go in or out of his front door.

“We’ve had a dramatic spate of water intrusion issues, which were the first indications there was something wrong,” Conte said.

The developer, Naples-based Stock Development LLC, and its sister company Stock Construction, have filed multiple lawsuits and sued a laundry list of companies over the defects, from the architects to the roofers.

One of Stock’s lawsuits names more than 13 defendants, including RDL Architects Inc., based in Shaker Heights, Ohio, and Gulf Western Roofing & Sheet Metal in Bonita Springs. The claims in the suit range from negligence to breach of contract and from violations of the Florida building code to breach of warranty.…

February 13, 2019

Quake-damaged middle school has faced design questions since it was built in the early 1980s

Source: http://www.alaskastar.com, February 12, 2019
By: Matt Tunseth

Engineers had serious questions about whether Gruening Middle School could withstand a powerful earthquake from the time the school was built, according to a collection of news stories written about the school’s troubled construction in the early 1980s.

“A major earthquake would produce significant damage and a possible partial collapse,” at the school, California engineering firm Forell/Elsesser Engineers Inc. wrote in a 1983 report to the Anchorage School District.

The firm was commissioned by the district after consultants determined the building — which was supposed to open in the fall of 1983 — was seriously flawed, news stories said. An investigation found errors in the engineering calculations and pointed out that the plans for the school didn’t receive oversight from Anchorage building inspectors, who some Eagle River builders resisted at the time. The district eventually retrofitted the school (which opened to students in 1984), but Forell/Elsesser warned inherent design flaws would likely always be an issue.

“It is not possible to overcome all deficiencies without major and costly reconstruction,” the company wrote.…

February 5, 2019

The butler did it: subcontractors pass the buck in downtown library lawsuit

Source: https://www.businessreport.com, February 4, 2019
By: Stephanie Riegel

The Texas subcontractor blamed in recent court filings for the structural failure that has stalled the under-construction downtown library for nearly 10 months now is denying culpability and pointing the finger at a Mississippi engineering firm.

In court documents filed January 29, Houston-based Structural Consultants Associates, Inc.—which was blamed in early January for the structural failure by the library’s architect and project manager, WHLC— says Meridien-based Carter Miller Associates Ltd. prepared shop drawings for structural steel connections used in the project “that contained errors. … As a result … there was a failure of certain structural steel connections at the project.”

SCA also suggests construction on the project could have resumed months ago but that WHLC is intentionally stalling. SCA says as far back as April 30 it notified WHLC it would be safe for general contractor Buquet and Leblanc to resume “light duty construction activities” but that no remediation work began. In mid-May, SCA issued another letter to WHLC, giving Buquet and Leblanc the go-ahead to resume full construction activities.…

January 18, 2019

Architectural and construction firms blame engineers for River Center Library problems

Source: https://www.theadvocate.com, January 17, 2019
By: Steve Hardy

Attorneys for architectural and construction firms caught up in a lawsuit over faulty construction of the River Center Library are blaming the problems on faulty engineering design work.

Work on the building has floundered since April upon a break in the welding that supports a cantilever — a portion of the library that hangs over the sidewalk on the north face.

The city-parish tried to mediate with its construction, engineering and architectural firms, though talks broke down, and now the government has taken its contractors to court.

In a recent filing in the 19th judicial district, the insurance company representing construction firm Buquet & LeBlanc claims the plans drawn up by Structural Consultants Associates, Inc. “caused the structural failure.”

According to letters obtained by The Advocate, Buquet & LeBlanc blamed SCA for problems with the building within days of the welding break, but now the allegations are part of the court record.…