Claims – A&E Prof Liability

June 12, 2019

‘It cracked like hell.’ Feds say engineers didn’t heed alarms before FIU bridge collapse.

Source: https://www.miamiherald.com, June 11, 2019
By: Andres Viglucci and Douglas Hanks

In a damning new report, federal work-safety investigators conclude that engineers in charge of design and construction of the ill-fated Florida International University pedestrian bridge should have shut down Southwest Eighth Street because of growing cracks in the structure, but failed to recognize the span was in danger of imminent collapse due to design errors.

The 115-page report by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, obtained Tuesday by the Miami Herald, finds plenty of blame to spread around for the collapse of the bridge last year while under construction.

The report details a catalog of errors ranging from a “deficient” design by Tallahassee-based FIGG Bridge Engineers that led to structural failure, to inadequate oversight by two engineering consulting firms that were supposed to act as a backstop on design and construction, Louis Berger and Bolton Perez and Associates, and a fatal attempt by FIGG to close the cracks that triggered the collapse.…

June 3, 2019

Charleston ports agency settles with Leatherman Terminal contractor

Source: https://www.postandcourier.com, May 31, 2019
By: David Wren

The State Ports Authority and an engineering firm that worked on the Leatherman Terminal in North Charleston have agreed to settle legal claims they had filed against each other.

A jury sided with S&ME Inc. earlier this year in a case where the authority alleged the firm conducted faulty soil tests that resulted in a design that couldn’t support cranes and other equipment. The SPA had been seeking more than $35 million in damages.

The maritime agency asked the S.C. Court of Appeals to overturn the verdict, but last month withdrew its appeal when Raleigh-based S&ME agreed to drop a counterclaim alleging it had been banned from doing any further work for the SPA.

The engineering firm also had been considering a defamation claim against the authority for alleging it did faulty work.

In the end, both sides agreed to pay their own costs and walk away from the lawsuits, according to a filing in Charleston County court.

“The parties agreed that S&ME would dismiss its claim against the ports authority and the ports authority would withdraw its appeal against S&ME,” said authority spokeswoman Kelsi Brewer.

The authority filed its lawsuit in September 2016, claiming it had to spend additional money on work, materials and construction delays due to S&ME’s faulty work.

A second defendant — California-based engineering firm Moffatt & Nichol — settled with the SPA more than a year ago.

S&ME filed its counterclaim in December 2016, alleging a potential contractor on the authority’s Dillon inland port was told it could not use S&ME as a consultant if it wanted to bid on that project.

An official of S&ME said after the jury verdict that the firm’s work at the Leatherman Terminal was “professionally and competently performed,” adding the company was “glad to put this lawsuit behind us.”

The first phase of the 280-acre Leatherman Terminal, under construction at the former Navy base, will include a 1,400-foot wharf that can accommodate ships hauling up to 18,000 cargo containers. The initial phase of the $762 million project is scheduled to open in 2021.…

May 7, 2019

Lawsuit seeks millions, alleges design flaws at Mohawk Harbor in Schenectady

Source: https://dailygazette.com, May 4, 2019
By: John Cropley

Developer sues architect and engineer, alleges problems with water leaks and noise

The developer of Mohawk Harbor is suing its designers, blaming them for water leaks and noise intrusion in some of the buildings and structures.

The lawsuit filed April 26 in state Supreme Court in Schenectady County seeks damages expected to exceed $3 million, plus related costs.

Attorney Joel M. Howard III of the Albany law firm Couch White brought the complaint on behalf of Maxon Alco Holdings LLC against architect J.T. Pollard and his firm, Re4orm Architecture of Schenectady, as well as engineer Dale Meszler and his firm, 260 Structural Engineering of Albany.

Pollard did the architectural work for the project and Meszler the structural engineering work.

Maxon Alco is a subsidiary of the Galesi Group, developer of Mohawk Harbor, and lists the same address as the Galesi Group’s new headquarters: 220 Harborside Drive, which is one of two office buildings at the waterfront development.…

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.…