Civil

November 21, 2019

Fla. Courts Continue to Expand Liability of Design Professionals on Construction Projects

Source: November 21, 2019
By: Charles E. Fombrun and Freddy X. Munoz

Design professionals such as architects and engineers are exposed to significant risk and potential liability for errors and omissions in their designs and other work on construction projects. In addition to potential up-front design errors, many professionals participate in project administration, which includes the review and approval of payment applications, inspecting and approving construction work as it progresses, and providing clarification and information through submittal approval and RFI responses, which also puts them at risk for post-completion claims.  Read more.

November 20, 2019

Florida bridge collapse | Catalogue of engineering errors revealed in final report

Source: https://www.newcivilengineer.com/, November 14, 2019
By: Sa,m Sholli

A catalogue of engineering errors during design and construction led to the fatal collapse of the Florida International University bridge, the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has ruled in its final report.

The report concludes that design calculation errors made by Figg Bridge Engineers were ultimately to blame for the collapse of the main span which killed five motorists and one construction worker in March 2018. Read more.

October 25, 2019

After the New Orleans Hard Rock Hotel collapse, lawsuits mount

Source: https://www.theadvertiser.com, October 24, 2019
By: Todd A. Price

In the wake of the partial collapse of the Hard Rock Hotel construction site on Oct 12, 11 lawsuits have been filed by site workers, nearby businesses, bystanders and the children of two of the men killed.

All but one of the lawsuits, filed in Orleans Parish Civil District Court, make unspecific allegations of negligence against the owners of the project, the general contractor Citadel Builders and numerous sub-contractors. Those suits read like placeholders for facts that will be established later as the litigation moves forward. Read more.

October 23, 2019

Miami bridge fall blamed on design, lack of oversight

Source: https://www.thesunchronicle.com, October 22, 2019

A Miami university bridge that collapsed and killed six people last year showed significant design errors and should have been more carefully monitored by the state government because of the project’s complexity, federal officials said Tuesday.

The National Transportation Safety Board members concluded that the design firm FIGG Bridge Engineers, Inc. underestimated the load of the bridge and overestimated its strength in a critical section that splintered, dropping a 174-foot-long (53-meter-long) span onto eight cars on March 15, 2018. Read more.

October 23, 2019

Design errors draw blame in collapse of FIU pedestrian bridge that killed 6

Source: USA today Online, October 22, 2019
Posted on: https://www.advisen.com

A doomed design was the “probable cause” of the horrific collapse of a pedestrian bridge in Miami last year that killed six people and injured 10, the National Transportation Safety Board found Tuesday.

The 174-foot-bridge section, designed to connect Florida International University with the city of Sweetwater, was still under construction on March 15, 2018, when it crashed to the road below. Eight vehicles were crushed, seven of which were occupied. Read more.

October 23, 2019

NTSB: Errors by FIGG Led to Fatal Bridge Collapse

Source: https://www.enr.com, October 22,2 2019
by: Scott Judy and Tom Ichniowski

Multiple design errors by FIGG Bridge Engineers and its engineer-of-record were the primary probable cause of last year’s Florida International University pedestrian bridge collapse, the National Transportation Safety Board announced Oct. 22.

In a more than three-hour presentation of its findings, the three-member board pointed to FIGG’s “load and capacity calculation errors” and its “design of the main span truss member 11-12 nodal region and connection to the bridge deck” as key explanations of the collapse. [View abstract of NTSB findings, probable-cause determination and safety recommendations here.] Read more.

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.…