Hot Topics

May 16, 2019

Ongoing asbestos cleanup forces two schools to spend another year in temporary campuses

Source: https://thelensnola.org, May 15, 2019
By: Marta Jewson

Two New Orleans charter schools will spend 2019-2020 in temporary facilities as multimillion-dollar asbestos remediation jobs stretch into another school year. The schools — Lafayette Academy and Rosenwald Collegiate Academy — had previously been expected to move into their permanent buildings this fall.

In a lawsuit filed Friday, the Orleans Parish School Board claims it has spent $5 million as a result of contractors’ mismanagement at Lafayette Academy’s South Carrollton Avenue building, which was closed last summer due to an asbestos release. The Choice Foundation, which runs Lafayette charter school, is OPSB’s co-plaintiff in the suit. The network says it’s spent $1.3 million replacing contaminated property.

Construction workers at Lafayette Academy botched an asbestos removal job last year. It was later discovered students had been on campus during previous asbestos work, potentially exposing them to the harmful material. A doctor later told parents their students were at little risk for asbestos-related illness.…

January 11, 2017

The Miller Law Firm Recovers $2.33 Million for Luxury Hayes Valley Condos with Construction Defects

Source: http://finance.yahoo.com, January 10, 2017

The Miller Law Firm has recovered $2,330,000 for a Hayes Valley Homeowners Association for construction defects, a record recovery of nearly $73,000 per-unit reached in just 14 months from filing the complaint in San Francisco Superior Court.  In the last 5 years alone, numerous San Francisco Condo Associations represented by The Miller Law Firm have recovered nearly $45 million for shoddy construction and severe building performance violations.

The developer and 5 subcontractors will pay $2.33 million through their insurance policies to this 33-unit mixed-use condominium project under a settlement agreement with confidentiality requirements.  This luxury mid-rise building in the popular Hayes Valley neighborhood is just one of many constructed in the area in the last decade.  Hayes Valley saw a spike in new home condominium construction after the destruction of the Central Freeway, which revitalized the neighborhood making way for mixed-use buildings and enticing owners to this performing-arts district.

The luxury project was only 5 years old when they filed a complaint for building deficiencies that included improper installation of podium deck waterproofing resulting in water intrusion in the garage, improperly sloped driveways, active water leaks in several locations, improperly sealed stone veneer, heavily stained and cracked stucco finish, improper drainage at the roofs, improper lobby ventilation, and improper installation of the firestopping.

According to Thomas E. Miller, CEO of The Miller Law Firm, “When insurance companies pay-out millions of dollars for construction defect claims, they require a full and complete release for all current and future claims as well as strict confidentiality.  This secrecy becomes the norm and it prevents consumers from knowing which Builders have a pattern of shoddy workmanship, which results in unsuspecting and often disappointed buyers.  In the end, Homeowners Associations are willing to accept these terms in order to provide the large recoveries needed to rebuild their communities.”

According to Rachel Miller, Senior Partner of The Miller Law Firm, “Having delivered $45 million to San Francisco Condo Associations for sub-standard construction highlights that builders and their insurance carriers can and should be held to the fire, and Associations and their owners will receive the funds they need to rebuild their community and their lives.”

Thomas E. Miller, Rachel M. Miller and Matthew T. Miller of The Miller Law Firm (www.ConstructionDefects.com) are the co-authors of, “Home and Condo Defects:  A Consumer Guide to Faulty Construction,” (Seven Locks Press, 2012), available online at www.amazon.com.  Celebrating 40 years, The Miller Law Firm was awarded the National Litigator Award by the Trial Lawyers Board of Regents for the second consecutive year.  This award honors only the top 1% of attorneys in the nation and based strictly on tangible verdict & settlement dollar achievement.

December 6, 2016

Major Construction-Defect Lawsuit Settled

Source: http://www.usglassmag.com, December 1, 2016
By: Trey Barrineau

A confidential mediated settlement in a recent construction-defect lawsuit in California once again highlights some of the biggest problem areas for builders, including faulty installation of door and window flashing.

The Miller Law Firm of Newport Beach, Calif., says it recovered “well into the eight figures” for a 300-unit, mixed-use project in Orange County with numerous serious construction-defect claims. The law firm says it’s one of the largest construction-defect settlements in Orange County in recent years.

Under the terms of the final agreement, the identity of the property, the defendants and the insurers were not revealed. While that’s not uncommon, the CEO of the law firm involved in the case says it’s not an ideal situation.

“When insurance companies pay out tens of millions of dollars for construction defect claims, they require a full and complete release for all current and future claims as well as strict confidentiality,” said Thomas E. Miller, CEO of The Miller Law Firm. “Secrecy becomes the norm, and it prevents consumers from knowing which builders have a pattern of shoddy workmanship, which results in unsuspecting and often disappointed buyers. But, in the end, homeowners associations are willing to accept these terms in order to provide such large recoveries to rebuild their communities.”…

October 20, 2016

The Miller Law Firm Recovers $4 Million for Downtown Los Angeles Arts District Lofts with Construction Defects

Source: http://www.prnewswire.com, October 18, 2016

The Miller Law Firm has recovered $4,000,000 for the Library Court Community Association, a recovery of over $44,000 per condo unit reached in less than two years.

This 91 unit condominium project, located in the Financial District of Downtown Los Angeles, was originally built in 1955 by Lincoln Savings.  Under Los Angeles’s popular Adaptive Reuse Ordinance, the building went through a conversion process in 2004 with the help of historic preservationists, and began sales in 2006.  Greystone Multi-Family Builders, Inc. converted and sold the condos and was ultimately named in the construction defect lawsuit.

Building deficiencies included flooding in the garage, cracking in garage slabs, podium deck level leaks and wood decking distortion, roof leaks, stucco cracks, cracks in the exterior stone cladding of the building, and plumbing system deficiencies including corroding valves and lines, and water heaters and sump-pump systems failures.

The Miller Law Firm filed suit in October of 2014 in Los Angeles Superior Court on behalf of the Association.   A settlement was reached in less than 2 years through mediation efforts facilitated by Jim Roberts, Esquire Deposition Services.

According to Thomas E. Miller, CEO of The Miller Law Firm, “Many commercial buildings in Downtown Los Angeles, like Library Court, were adapted for residential use and converted in the midst of the real estate boom in 2004-2006, where speedy construction resulted in building wide construction defects.  Even when the CC&Rs and sales documents attempt to curtail owners’ rights, by calling the construction and conversion ‘cosmetic’ and ‘as-is,’ Association’s are protected under California law.”

According to Rachel M. Miller, Senior Partner of The Miller Law Firm, “L.A.’s Adaptive Reuse era brought construction defects to many downtown communities, but independent experts can and will help Associations verify the severity and commonality of building repairs.  And reaching a settlement with the builder’s insurance company for these claims does not take four or five years.  The process can help rebuild and restore communities like Library Court in under two years.”

Thomas E. Miller, Rachel M. Miller & Matthew T. Miller of The Miller Law Firm (www.ConstructionDefects.com) are the co-authors of, “Home and Condo Defects:  A Consumer Guide to Faulty Construction,” (Seven Locks Press, 2012), available online at www.amazon.com.  Celebrating 40 years, The Miller Law Firm was awarded the National Litigator Award by the Trial Lawyers Board of Regents for the second consecutive year.  This award honors only the top 1% of attorneys in the nation and based strictly on tangible verdict & settlement dollar achievement.

October 19, 2016

The Miller Law Firm Recovers $4 Million for Downtown Los Angeles Arts District Lofts with Construction Defects

Source: http://www.prnewswire.com, October 18, 2016

The Miller Law Firm has recovered $4,000,000 for the Library Court Community Association, a recovery of over $44,000 per condo unit reached in less than two years.

This 91 unit condominium project, located in the Financial District of Downtown Los Angeles, was originally built in 1955 by Lincoln Savings.  Under Los Angeles’s popular Adaptive Reuse Ordinance, the building went through a conversion process in 2004 with the help of historic preservationists, and began sales in 2006.  Greystone Multi-Family Builders, Inc. converted and sold the condos and was ultimately named in the construction defect lawsuit.

Building deficiencies included flooding in the garage, cracking in garage slabs, podium deck level leaks and wood decking distortion, roof leaks, stucco cracks, cracks in the exterior stone cladding of the building, and plumbing system deficiencies including corroding valves and lines, and water heaters and sump-pump systems failures.

The Miller Law Firm filed suit in October of 2014 in Los Angeles Superior Court on behalf of the Association.   A settlement was reached in less than 2 years through mediation efforts facilitated by Jim Roberts, Esquire Deposition Services.

According to Thomas E. Miller, CEO of The Miller Law Firm, “Many commercial buildings in Downtown Los Angeles, like Library Court, were adapted for residential use and converted in the midst of the real estate boom in 2004-2006, where speedy construction resulted in building wide construction defects.  Even when the CC&Rs and sales documents attempt to curtail owners’ rights, by calling the construction and conversion ‘cosmetic’ and ‘as-is,’ Association’s are protected under California law.”

According to Rachel M. Miller, Senior Partner of The Miller Law Firm, “L.A.’s Adaptive Reuse era brought construction defects to many downtown communities, but independent experts can and will help Associations verify the severity and commonality of building repairs.  And reaching a settlement with the builder’s insurance company for these claims does not take four or five years.  The process can help rebuild and restore communities like Library Court in under two years.”

Thomas E. Miller, Rachel M. Miller & Matthew T. Miller of The Miller Law Firm (www.ConstructionDefects.com) are the co-authors of, “Home and Condo Defects:  A Consumer Guide to Faulty Construction,” (Seven Locks Press, 2012), available online at www.amazon.com.  Celebrating 40 years, The Miller Law Firm was awarded the National Litigator Award by the Trial Lawyers Board of Regents for the second consecutive year.  This award honors only the top 1% of attorneys in the nation and based strictly on tangible verdict & settlement dollar achievement.

September 22, 2016

Subcontractor Exception Torpedoes Insurers’ Defense To Faulty Workmanship Claim

Source: http://propertycasualtyfocus.com, September 216, 2016
By: Daniel G. Enriquez and Robert D. Helfand

As this blog has reported, a line of cases deciding coverage disputes over faulty workmanship runs against (or, at least, around) a basic rule for interpreting insurance policies.  Under that rule, the scope of coverage is determined by a policy’s insuring clause, which may be narrowed by one or more exclusionsExceptions to the exclusions can add back coverage that the exclusions remove, but they cannot create coverage beyond the ambit of the insuring clause.  E.g., West Bend Mut. Ins. Co. v. MacDougall Pierce Const., Inc., 11 N.E.3d 531, 538 (Ind. Ct. App. 2014).  This summer, in Cypress Point Condominium Ass’n, Inc. v. Adria Towers, L.L.C., 226 N.J. 403 (N.J. Aug. 4, 2016), the Supreme Court of New Jersey joined the ranks of courts that honor this principle in the breach.  The court did not hold that a subcontractor exception to a “Your Work” exclusion created coverage; but it did find that the presence of the exception required it to construe the insuring clause more broadly than substantially identical clauses found in policies from which the exception was absent.…

April 25, 2016

Bedbug infestations plague dorm

Source: http://yaledailynews.com, April 22, 2016
By: David Yaffe-Bellany

When Luying Liu GRD ’21 noticed brown blotches on her bed sheets, she told herself not to panic.

“I was doing a lot of other stuff at the time and tried to get my mind off it,” Liu said.

But the blotches — dried blood from the tiny insect bites on her arms and back — kept reappearing. On March 31, Liu — who lives on the eighth floor of Harkness Hall, a 172-bedroom dorm complex for graduate and medical students located on Cedar Street near Yale-New Haven Hospital — contacted Yale Housing and the Office of Facilities to request an inspection. It was clear where the blotches had come from: a bedbug infestation, the sixth in Harkness Hall since October.

The Harkness Hall bedbug infestations, which at the moment have subsided, have generated fierce debate within the graduate and medical student community, fueled by the activism of angry residents who insist that housing officials have badly mishandled the problem. Two weeks ago, the brewing controversy forced the Medical School Admissions Office to relocate dozens of visiting students scheduled to stay in Harkness Hall for a three-day admitted students event. And late last week, in an email to building residents, Director of Graduate and Professional Student Housing George Longyear announced a revised bedbug protocol designed to prevent future infestations, after consultation with an expert in bedbug management. The new protocol calls for preemptive treatments as well as other measures designed to prevent future infestations.

October 22, 2015

Contaminants stay under wraps

Source: Patriot-News (Harrisburg, PA), October 20, 2015
Posted on: http://www.advisen.com

When it comes to lab test results, you can’t find something you’re not looking for. The state Department of Environmental Protection uses a lab code system specifically designed to test water around oil and gas drilling sites that ensures certain contaminants that might be in residents’ drinking water will never be reported.

Because of the way the testing system is set up, contaminants such as arsenic, lead and sodium never appear in some lab reports, despite being found in water tested near Marcellus Shale sites across Pennsylvania.

Using these so-called “suite codes” is akin to Major League Baseball ordering drug tests, leaving steroids out of the results, and then saying there is no evidence of steroid use in baseball.

DEP lab director Taru Upadhyay in a 2012 court deposition said her lab tested for a full range of metals associated with the oil and gas industry, but did not report all of the results – even though providing the full results wouldn’t cost the DEP any extra time or money.

In some cases, 24 metals were detected, but only eight were reported because the department’s oil and gas division had not requested them, she said.

Pennsylvania residents never knew that their water contained copper, nickel, titanium and zinc, which the federal Environmental Protection Agency says are associated with the oil and gas drilling activities and might cause health problems.…

October 13, 2015

Fracking Study Ties Water Contamination to Surface Spills

Source: http://insideclimatenews.org, October 13, 2015
By: Lisa Song

Research in Pennsylvania shows increased chemicals, but they are not coming from deep underground, making them easier to target.

Residential water wells near Marcellus shale fracking in northeast Pennsylvania were more likely to contain higher levels of diesel-like chemicals, especially if the gas well had a history of environmental health and safety violations, according to a peer-reviewed paper published Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

But the study found the contamination came from surface spills of hydraulic fracturing fluid, not fracking compounds that were injected deep underground. It also found the contamination levels likely were not a threat to human health.

Brian Drollette, a chemical and environmental engineering graduate student at Yale University and the paper’s first author, called the results encouraging for local residents, because they showed fracking fluids were not moving upward from the Marcellus shale to shallower groundwater aquifers—at least not in the short term. The study authors said this could help improve public health, because residential wells near known surface spills could be monitored and targeted for treatment.

The researchers sampled 64 private water wells and ran a series of highly sophisticated tests to identify contaminants and pinpoint where the chemicals came from. The samples were taken three to five years after the gas wells had been drilled.

“All in all, it’s an excellent piece of science,” said Zacariah Hildenbrand, a scientist who heads an environmental consulting group who wasn’t part of this study. The researchers broke “new ground in terms of characterizing where these constituents are coming from and that has a tremendous amount of value,” he said.…

September 25, 2015

Unsettling dust: Hundreds of Portland homes demolished with asbestos inside

Source: http://www.oregonlive.com, September 25, 2015
by: Fedor Zarkhin

Heather Dickinson watched in alarm last year as a man in a backhoe tore down the one-story Southeast Portland house next door, sending a plume of grayish-brown dust above neighboring rooftops.

The dust spread everywhere, creeping into Dickinson’s house, caking her home’s exterior walls, and billowing into the sky, she said. Three men, in addition to the man in the backhoe, were in the thick of the demolition wearing no respirator masks. Dickinson told her 8- and 6-year-old boys, who were mesmerized by the destruction, to come inside.

What she didn’t know and environmental regulators later learned: The contractor demolished the house with hundreds of square feet of asbestos-laden flooring and insulation inside.

With few exceptions, Oregon regulations require licensed contractors to remove asbestos before any demolition. Federal regulations says workers who might inhale cancer-causing asbestos fibers must wear protective gear such as hooded polyethylene coveralls and respirators.

The men working by hand at the Southeast Portland demolition site were likely exposed to asbestos fibers, a state workplace safety official said.

The case is unique only in that regulators found out about it.

Weak regulatory oversight has allowed contractors to tear down hundreds of homes in Portland without properly removing asbestos inside, an investigation by The Oregonian/OregonLive has found.…