Civil

August 1, 2019

Plaintiffs’ Lawyers: Louis Berger Only Firm Not Yet To Settle Over FIU Bridge Tragedy

Source: https://www.enr.com, July 31, 2019

A year and a half after the Florida International University pedestrian bridge collapsed, killing six and injuring at least eight, victims and their survivors have reached monetary settlements with all but one of the companies implicated in the disaster.

Among those signing on to the deal announced in MIami-Dade circuit court Monday are FIGG, the Tallahassee -based engineering firm that designed the 950-ton, 320-foot span, and Munilla Construction Management (MCM), the general contractor headquartered in Miami . In total, 23 subcontractors joined the deal, which requires them to pay into a fund set aside for those affected.

The lone holdout is Louis Berger , an engineering consulting firm hired to double-check FIGG’s design and calculations.

The terms of each settlement are confidential, but the funds agreed upon will be added on top of a $42 million deal hashed out by the victims and MCM’s insurers in April. While Monday’s announcement came in civil court, it will be formalized in federal bankruptcy court as part of MCM’s ongoing debt restructuring.

However, the nature of the bankruptcy proceeding means that all parties involved need Louis Berger on board before the money can be distributed.…

July 25, 2019

Ohio Supreme Court: All Claims for Defective Construction or Design Must Be Brought Within 10 Years of Substantial Completion

Source: https://www.jdsupra.com, July 19, 2019

The Court’s decision in New Riegel Local School District Board of Education, et al. v. The Buehrer Group Architecture & Engineering, Inc., et al.  [1] interprets Ohio’s Statute of Repose,  [2] which generally requires certain construction defect claims to be brought within 10 years of the date of substantial completion. At issue in the case was whether that statute applies only to tort claims (such as claims that the general contractor or architect negligently performed its work by failing to comply with the applicable standard of care), or also to breach of contract claims. In holding that the Statute of Repose applies to both types of claims, the Supreme Court reversed its own 1986 holding that the statute applied only to tort claims.

In the New Riegel case, the New Riegel Local School District filed a lawsuit against its architect, general contractor, roofing subcontractor, and a surety for damages arising out of condensation, moisture intrusion, and other deficiencies allegedly resulting from improper design and construction. The lawsuit was filed more than 10 years after substantial completion. At the time the lawsuit was filed, the statute of limitations for a breach of contract action was 15 years and the school district’s lawsuit was filed within that time period. (The statute of limitations for breach of contract claims has since been amended to 8 years.)  But because the school district’s claims were for breach of contract, it argued that the Statute of Repose did not apply and that its claims were not time-barred.…

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 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.…

October 5, 2018

Developers of subdivision suing engineering firm for delays

Source: http://www.tribtown.com, 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: https://www.newtimesslo.com, 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.…

May 9, 2018

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

Source: http://www.miamiherald.com, 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.…