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Now I am in a REAL jamb!!

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Lynn,

Your former client would probably be the first in line to sue you for *not*
telling him/her about your structural adequacy concerns if the building
became unserviceable to him/her due to it.

Your former client also seems to be of the mentality that "if it was approved
by the building official, it's *got to be safe*."

Other than peace of mind, you have/had nothing to gain in notifying the
building's owner, architect and building official about your concerns.  In
fact, because of your concerns, you returned the project to your client, and,
I assume, did not charge a fee or your full fee for the work that you did.

As others have stated, your primary responsibility is to protect the health,
safety and welfare of the *public* and your responsibility to your client is
to see that what he/she wants to do does not adversely affect the health,
safety and welfare of the public.

I would view your actions as being similar to that of a physician who
notifies the county, state, or national health agencies of a possible highly
contagious disease found in a patient.

Unless you called a news conference in front of the building, or picketed the
building with signs saying that "this building is unsafe," I think that you
acted in a highly professional manner.  I compare your actions to the actions
of William LeMessurier concerning the CitiBank building.  He, too, could have
walked away as the building was built, occupied, approved by the city's
building department, and only under extreme quartering winds (which were not
required to be considered by the then effective building code) would there be
a possible problem.

Personally, I don't think you are in a jam.  After all, it was your
professional responsibility to take the actions that you did.

Good Luck!

A. Roger Turk, P.E.(Structural)
Tucson, Arizona

Lynn Howard wrote:

. > I posted a letter the other day that some of you
. > responded to me both on the list and privately.  I
. > really appreciated the input I received and decided to
. > contact the Owner, Building Department and Architect
. > about potential problems I had found with the building.

. > Now my client has threatened to sue me if he suffers
. > any losses due to our reporting these issues to the
. > building department.  He say we were hired as a
. > consultant, and as such we had no right to inform
. > anyone else of our findings, unless there was an
. > eminent danger to the life or safety of the occupants.
. > Since the building is only now under construction, they
. > claim there was no such threat.

. > Does anyone have any comments on this?  Is this true?
. > Do we only have the right to report errors we find to
. > the building official if they are of an immediate life
. > safety type.  If our client suffers losses because I
. > reported this, am I to be held liable?

. > Below is the text of my original text for those of you
. > that do not remember my issue.

. > Lynn

. > I need help on an issue I know has been addressed
. > before, but to be honest I did not pay much attention
. > to it because it did not directly effect me at the
. > time.

. > There is a new three story office building being
. > constructed, it totals about 50,000 square feet.  The
. > first floor, first floor walls, and second floor slab
. > is all concrete and concrete block.  The second floor
. > concrete slab is about to be placed.  The upper floors
. > are wood and steel.

. > Our office did not do the design for the building, but
. > we have been asked by a tenant that is going to occupy
. > some of the building to provide structural design for
. > their T.I. work.  They have some heavy equipment going
. > in, so there is some significant structural work that
. > will have to be done in order to accommodate this
. > equipment.

. > The Architect of the building provided us with a
. > complete set of plans and structural calculations so we
. > could do our work.  Once we got into the plans and
. > calculations, it became obvious to us that the Engineer
. > of Record for this building did not provide a design
. > that conforms to Code.  Many of the Code violations are
. > in the area of seismic design.  But some are simply of
. > a gravity load type error also.  We did not do a
. > detailed review of the plans and specifications, but we
. > saw enough to know that we want nothing to do with this
. > project.  We have told the tenant that we are not going
. > to provide the structural design they have requested,
. > and we have told the tenant exactly why.

. > My question is if we bow out of this project, am I done
. > with my professional responsibilities under my capacity
. > as a licensed structural engineer in the State of
. > California?  I would like to just walk away from this
. > whole thing and not get involved any further.  But I
. > also want to make sure  I am not walking away from and
. > responsibilities that I may have as a licensed
. > engineer.

. > Am I obligated to tell the building owner that I have
. > doubts (but not proof) about the adequacy of the
. > structural design?  Am I obligated to tell the Building
. > department that I have doubts (but not proof) about the
. > structural design?

. > Any thoughts on this issue would be appreciated.

. > Lynn

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