Structural

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.…

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.…

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.…

October 8, 2018

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

Source: https://www.marinij.com, 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.…

August 14, 2018

Galesburg settles lawsuit with engineering firm

Source: http://www.galesburg.com, 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: https://www.fireengineering.com, 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.…