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Re: Code created Malpractice opportunity

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Robert, 
I appreciate your comments but don't really feel that secure. Here is the 
reason. 
I was named in a suit (and subsequently droped when it turned out that my 
stamp did not appear on the permit drawing even though I was employed by the 
company when the design of the project began).

The building was sold. The new owner wanted to change the occupancy of the 
building from offices to warehousing. The building was an Unreinforced 
Masonry structure in the heart of Los Angeles City. The company I worked for 
provided the design and retrofit some 9 years prior.

The new owner hired a new engineer to upgrade the building based upon a 
change of occupancy and new requirments by the building department. The new 
design went well over budget and the new owners called in another engineer 
with known experience in retrofit. The new "expert" believed that the 
original steel frames in the first floor used for shear and cross-walls were 
underdesigned.

The building survived the Northridge earthquake and all events between 
Whittier Narrows to present with little or no damage.  The new owners 
attorneys who were experienced in construction and engineering liability 
litigation claimed that if there was one defect found, the owner has the 
right to suspect that there are others. The attorney's sued for over 1.5 
million dollars - which just happened to be the cost of the change of 
occupancy. The cost to correct any perceived error (assuming the allegations 
were correct since no analysis existed after these many years) was around 
$15,000.00.

The case never went before a jury - instead, the Insurance company settled 
the claim in favor of the new owners at a comprimised figure.

I don't believe that any case needs to be decided by a jury as long as there 
has been one accountable error made in the original design. Personally, I 
think a jury would be more understanding of these types of issues and may 
have seen the intention of the new building owners described above. However, 
the E&O carrier circumvented the potential trial by "cutting their losses" at 
the possible expense of the original Engineer of Record.

Therefore, rational accounts such as yours are not always (or frequently I 
suspect) the way the outcome occurs. I think Insurances companies are better 
prepared to settle claims then litigate them.

Dennis S. Wish PE