Claims – A&E Prof Liability

February 13, 2019

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

Source:, 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:, 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:, 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.…

November 6, 2018

Johnson Street Bridge builder sues City of Victoria over design, costs

Source:, November 3, 2018
By: Bill Cleverly

The new Johnson Street Bridge is built and in use, but legal wrangling over its design and costs continue.

In a lawsuit filed in B.C. Supreme Court, PCL Constructors Westcoast Ltd., the company that built the bridge, maintains design information for the bridge “was not accurate and complete” and “contained errors, omissions and misrepresentations.”

The suit seeking unspecified damages names the city, bridge design consultant WSP Canada Group Ltd. (formerly known as MMM Group), and Hardesty & Hanover, a sub-consultant, as defendants. The statement of claim, filed in Supreme Court in Chilliwack, says the city failed to provide design information in a timely manner, unreasonably changed the design (including specifications), and failed to pay PCL’s costs arising from changes.…

October 8, 2018

College of Marin sues in messy dispute with fine arts building architect

Source:, October 5, 2018
By: Richard Halstead

The Marin Community College District has found itself enmeshed in a sort of Chinese box of lawsuits, as it sues the law firm it hired to sue the architectural firm it commissioned to help modernize the College of Marin campus.

The district last month filed suit against Dannis Woliver Kelley, the San Francisco law firm that it hired to sue Marcy Wong & Donn Logan Architects (MWDL). The Berkeley-based architects were brought on in 2007 to assist with construction of its Fine Arts Building and modernization of its Performing Arts Complex.

Events began to unfold in March 2014, when the district filed a complaint for breach of contract and professional negligence in Marin Superior Court against Marcy Wong & Donn Logan Architects.

It was the first of two suits it would eventually file against the architectural group alleging a total of about $3 million in damages. MWDL did not respond to requests for comment.

In April 2007, the district entered into a contract with MWDL for architectural design services to be provided for various construction projects at the campus. The projects were funded by Measure C, a $249.5 million bond measure approved by voters in 2004.…

October 5, 2018

Developers of subdivision suing engineering firm for delays

Source:, October 4, 2018
By: January Rutherford

The developer of Burkart Crossing Apartments in Seymour is suing an engineering firm for “poor” design and implementation of plans for a 104-lot subdivision on the city’s northeast side.

Construction of homes has yet to begin in Redbud Meadows subdivision, located on about 60 acres of property north and northeast of the apartments.

The major hangups are due to ongoing stormwater drainage issues and roads that were not built wide enough to meet city code.

Attorneys for Bushmann LLC of Columbus have filed a complaint in Jackson Superior Court I for breach of contract against LandWater Group Inc., also of Columbus.

The complaint states Bushmann entered into an oral agreement in 2013 with LandWater Group to prepare zoning documents and development plans for the subdivision.

Those plans were to be designed to meet city code so the city would accept the subdivision into its inventory.…

September 27, 2018

Cambria CSD sues company that built its water facility

Source:, September 27, 2018
By: Karen Garcia

The Cambria Community Services District claims that it has accrued $3.5 million in damages and bad equipment due to faulty work by the construction company that helped build its emergency water supply facility.

The lawsuit, filed on Sept. 21 against CDM Smith—a Boston-based construction and engineering company that specializes in water, environment, transportation, and energy—alleges that the district lost $2.5 million with the construction of a brine pond and must decommission the facility due to the company’s flawed reports.

On Jan. 30, 2014, the district declared a stage 3 water shortage emergency, imposing conservation measures and authorizing the general manager to enter into any necessary agreements to develop and implement an emergency water supply project.

On Feb. 7, 2014, the district finalized a contract with CDM Smith, according to the lawsuit, for the design and construction of the emergency water supply project intended to produce an additional 400,000 to 600,000 gallons per day of potable water.

The project extracts and treats a mixture of brackish water from saltwater and treated wastewater.…

August 14, 2018

Galesburg settles lawsuit with engineering firm

Source:, August 6, 2018
By: Rebecca Susmarski

A lawsuit the city of Galesburg filed against the engineering firm it hired for the Oquawka water treatment plant came to an end Monday.

The Galesburg City Council agreed during its regularly scheduled meeting to settle the city’s lawsuit against AECOM, the parent company of engineering firm Consoer Townsend Envirodyne Engineers Inc. AECOM will pay the city $73,710 in accordance with the settlement.

The city sued AECOM in June 2015 to recoup money lost due to defects in the design of the water treatment plant, according to The Register-Mail’s archives. The city contracted with Consoer Townsend Envirodyne Engineers Inc. in April 2007 for design services on the water plant, which commenced operations in 2010.

“The plant was built and began operating, after which, the city alleges, a host of problems appeared, including malfunction of water pumps within the plant, corrosion of ductwork and electrical components, insufficient heating, problems adjusting water flows within pipes, problems with drainage, various difficulties with the placement of pipes and other equipment, and several missing devices that were required but not in the original plans,” according to the lawsuit.…

July 19, 2018

Construction Concerns: Complacency and Building Design

Source:, July 17, 2018
By: Gregory Haval

In a “Construction Concerns” article from February 21, 2018, discussed complacency and hubris

and their effects on emergency incident outcomes. “Complacency” was defined as “satisfaction with a perception of a situation that is not based on reality.” “Hubris” was defined as “self-confidence beyond the level of competence,” eaning that our perception of our skills and abilities was not based on reality.

Both concepts—especially complacency—can affect the course of an incident years before emergency services are dispatched and as early as the design phase of a building. The collapse of the Hyatt Regency skywalks in Kansas City, Missouri, on July 17, 1981, is an example of this kind of complacency. This was the deadliest structural collapse in U.S. history until the destruction by terrorists of the World Trade Center Twin Towers on 9/11.

The original architectural and engineering plans were prepared in 1977. In late 1978, the structural engineer was contacted by a subcontractor who was preparing shop drawings for the fabrication of the structural steel for the skywalks. The fabricator had been retained by the general contractor. The fabricator then proposed to redesign the system of single suspension rods supporting the second- and fourth-floor skywalks to suspend the fourth-floor skywalk from the roof trusses and to suspend the second-floor skywalk from the fourth-floor skywalk framing. The engineer of record approved the design change without checking the calculations to determine whether there would be changes in the loading of structural elements. The shop drawings were approved by the structural engineer in February 1979.…

May 9, 2018

Cracks where FIU bridge buckled may have signaled ‘imminent failure’

Source:, May 7, 2018
By: Andres Viglucci, Nicholas Nehamas and Jenny Staletovich

A key concrete support truss in the doomed Florida International University pedestrian bridge developed worrisome cracks 10 days before the structure was lifted into place over the Tamiami Trail, photographs and an internal email unintentionally released by the school show.

The documents, released in response to public records requests from the Miami Herald, show that FIU’s construction and engineering team discovered potentially problematic cracks in the bridge earlier than officials have previously acknowledged.

The cracks were found in late February at the base of a diagonal support member at the north end of the span. Independent engineers have identified that as the point where the structure shattered on March 15 while under construction, sending the 950-ton bridge crashing onto the roadway below and claiming six lives.

Three independent engineers who examined the photos, records and bridge blueprints at the Herald’s request concurred the cracks were a red flag signaling potentially critical structural problems. Outside experts have zeroed in on that truss member, identified in plans as No. 11, as being “under-designed” — that is, not strong enough to withstand the pressure from the weight of the bridge it was supposed to hold up.…