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Re: UBC/LA City Code and Lateral Design

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Dennis, 
    I need to shed some light on what appears to be a misconception as to 
legal proceedings.  You indicated in a more recent message that "..the 
Plaintiff's lawyer concluded there is liability for a design that did not 
meet the code requirements at the time it was done, and that the owner had 
fears of other non compliance."
    First, I will assume that the damages complained of were not caused by 
any structural design, i.e. no damages can be attributed to lack of 
compliance with the code.  In this case, the engineer must be dismissed, even 
though the design was not "per code."  This is called the "proximate cause 
doctrine."  Hence, in your scenario, the EOR is not a proper defendant.  To 
put it differently, your not complying with the code MUST be the proximate 
cause of the damages complained of; if the EOR designed a building and missed 
every UBC requirement but no damages occurred as a direct result, there is no 
liability.  There is just as well no liability for FEAR of potential damages 
that have not yet occured; these kind of damages are not allowed as they are 
"speculative."
    Thus, in your scenario, the EOR has no liability.
    The question becomes "why did his carrier settle?" This question is 
better addressed under a different post.
    In your scenario, the EOR has, as options, several procedures to get 
dismissed. The plaintiff's lawyer must be put on notice of the possibility of 
malicious prosecution action considering the non-liability of the EOR; the 
plaintiff's lawyer could be compelled to show that he complied properly with 
the requirements of obtaining a certificate of merit from an engineer in the 
same discipline; the EOR has the option of filing a motion for summary 
judgment and dismissal.  These proceedings combined may be less costly than a 
settlement.

Regards, 
George Hakim