Civil

April 19, 2017

Serious design, construction and maintenance defects doomed Oroville Dam, report says

Source: http://www.latimes.com, April 17, 2017
By: Ralph Vartabedian

Design flaws, construction shortcomings and maintenance errors caused the Oroville Dam spillway to break apart in February, according to an independent analysis by Robert Bea for the Center for Catastrophic Risk Management at UC Berkeley.

Bea, a co-founder of the center and retired civil engineering professor, found that in the 1960s, when the dam was being planned, designers did not call for a thick enough concrete spillway floor. Nor did they require the continuous steel reinforcement needed to keep its slabs intact during decades of service.

The design also did not require strong enough anchors into the underlying mountainside to resist movements downhill and from side to side.

The analysis is the first major assessment of what caused the massive damage that forced the evacuation of nearby Oroville and left the state with a repair bill likely to reach into the hundreds of millions of dollars.

It also sends a warning that the state’s aging fleet of dams may contain unknown defects that would threaten public safety in future wet years.

California Department of Water Resources spokeswoman Erin Mellon said the agency has not seen Bea’s analysis.…

April 18, 2017

Developer McKafka sues architect, alleging construction delays and defects at the Crimson

Source: https://therealdeal.com, April 17, 2017
By: Francisco Alvarado

An Aventura-based architecture firm allegedly left McKafka Development Group hanging, delaying construction on its 90-unit high-rise called the Crimson in Miami’s Edgewater neighborhood, according to a lawsuit.

McKafka, through its limited liability company Alpine Estates, accuses International Design Engineering and Architecture, or I.D.E.A. for short, of breaching its contract and negligence, in the lawsuit filed in Miami-Dade Circuit Court last month.

Stephane L’ecuyer, I.D.E.A.’s principal, did not return two phone messages seeking comment. McKafka principal Stephan Gietl also did not respond to The Real Deal, but his lawyer Bruce King said, “We had several discussions to get a resolution and have been unable to do so.” He declined further comment.

According to the lawsuit, McKafka hired I.D.E.A. on Feb. 8, 2013 as the architect of record and Facchina Construction of Florida as the general contractor for the Crimson. However, the architecture firm performed poorly, the lawsuit alleges. The Crimson, at 601 Northeast 27th Street, remains unfinished today.

“I.D.E.A. failed to timely coordinate with or respond to Facchina, prepared incomplete or inconsistent drawings and specifications, and failed to perform in a manner consistent with the design schedule,” the lawsuit states.

McKafka alleges that I.D.E.A. also failed to timely respond to requests for information, change order requests, or provide staff to ensure continuity of service. In addition, according to the suit, I.D.E.A. improperly designed the garage ramps that led to substantial structural changes. The company also improperly designed the temperature control system, resulting in high humidity in the condo units, the lawsuit alleges.

Other significant revisions at the Crimson included the relocation of piles and beams and the redesigning of the height of the building’s stairs and the size of an emergency generator room, McKafka alleges. As a result of the repairs and revisions, the project was delayed and Facchina charged the developer for the delays, as well as additional construction costs, according to the suit.…

October 28, 2013

Policyholders: Beware of Choice of Law Provisions

Source: Saxe Doernberger & Vita, P.C., October 2013

New York District Court Applies “No Prejudice” Rule to Late Notice Claim for Policy “Issued and Delivered” Outside the State with NY Choice of Law Provision

A New York federal district court applied the antiquated “no prejudice” rule to an insured’s late notice claim in Indian Harbor Insurance Co. v. City of San Diego, 2013 WL 5340380 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 25, 2013). The insurance policy in question was issued in Pennsylvania, delivered to the policyholder in California, and insured risks located in California. The policy contained both New York choice of law and forum selection clauses. In holding that the insurer had no duty to indemnify, the court held that only those policies “issued and delivered” in New York are entitled to take advantage of New York’s statutory “notice-prejudice” standard, which requires that an insurer show prejudice resulting from the policyholder’s late notice in order to deny coverage on that basis. Rather, the court held that foreign insurance policies with New York choice of law provisions are subject to the draconian common law “no prejudice” standard, under which an insurer does not have to show that it was prejudiced by late notice in order to deny coverage.

The Indian Harbor case involved three underlying pollution claims made against the California State Association of Counties and the City of San Diego (collectively “the City”). For each claim, the City failed to give timely notice to the insurer after receiving the claim. The insurer disclaimed coverage and sought a declaration that it had no duty to indemnify the City due to the late notice.…

September 6, 2013

Civil Infrastructure Project

State Entity overseeing a multi-billion dollar civil infrastructure project (highways, bridges, tunnels) sued the design team for $300,000,000 related to cost overruns, design errors, traffic software design flaws.  Alleged damages significantly exceed the total available design professional insurance.

 …

May 3, 2011

4 coal companies settle 2009 mine lawsuit filed by Breathitt residents

Source: http://www.kentucky.com, April 29, 2011
By: Dori Hjalmarson

Four coal companies have settled a lawsuit by 91 residents along Quicksand Creek in Breathitt County who claimed poor reclamation of surface mines exacerbated flooding after heavy rains in May 2009.

The terms of the settlement are confidential, said the plaintiffs’ attorney Ned Pillersdorf, but others called the settlement groundbreaking for Kentucky.

The bulk of the evidence was a study done for the plaintiffs by a Virginia engineering firm. A model of the current topography of the Quicksand Creek watershed was compared with the watershed if no mining had been done. The study found that peak flows in the creek increased 77 percent to 81 percent during a rain like the soaking that occurred May 8 and 9, 2009.

“It has not been done in Kentucky before. This is the best engineering study that I’ve seen on this issue,” said Jack Spadaro, a mine reclamation and hydrology expert hired by Pillersdorf. “It certainly is groundbreaking in Kentucky.”…

May 3, 2011

MWRA to sue firms over massive water main break

Source: http://articles.boston.com, May 2, 2011
By: Beth Daley

The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority is preparing a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against several companies for the catastrophic water main break last year that cut off clean water to nearly 2 million Boston-area residents for more than two days.

The region’s water supplier says a panel has nearly completed its investigation of the massive leak a year ago this past weekend — one of the nation’s most disruptive water distribution failures in recent memory. It is expected to detail how a steel coupling failed at a critical, high-pressure juncture of two 10-foot-diameter water mains.

The report, based on a forensic analysis of recovered pieces of the clamp and parts of several studs that held it together, is expected to be released within the next two weeks.…