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RE: What is it about Condos

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>From my experience, there is a combination of issues with condo's that make
them a high risk:
1. The legal profession generally deals with condo construction defect
suites on contingency which allows them to attach the pot of gold from all
parties with E&O insurance. Because of the Returns, the larger Law firms are
investing their capital into cases where they can sign on a number of condo
owners by representing the Home Owner's Association. This, combined with the
probability that it will be settled before it litigates makes it extremely
profitable for law firms that have assets to invest in expert witnesses,
specialists and depositions. 
2. Home Owner's Associations are very political. They are led down the path
by ambulance chasing legal firms who specialize in specific issues such as
termite and mold damage. The thing that most of the HOA's don't realize is
that after the settlement and the lawyer's take their share, there is rarely
enough money left to repair the damage AND each condo owner must disclose
the problem making it difficult to sell until it is repaired.
3. Not all Expert Witnesses are ethical. Sorry, but from my experience
reading through depositions from experts whom I have known and admired for
years, I was disappointed to learn that my respect was thrown back in my
face. In one case, the Expert Witness representing the plaintiff reported
that the engineer who designed a seismic retrofit should have known what the
Existing Building Committee for SEAOC was working on that was intended to be
approved and codified prior to the publication of the 1991 UCBC. Having been
part of that committee, the meetings were held during the work week and work
hours when most engineers can not get away to attend. The engineers working
on retrofits at the time were required to obtain approval from the City of
Los Angeles to use RGA 1-91 Special Procedure. They had no idea what changes
were being made by attending the seminars held once a year or by the limited
information published. They learned from the course materials which was not
current. 
My point is that the Expert based his decision that the engineer who
practices retrofit has a responsibility to participate in the then Hazardous
Building Committee and to have used a method that had not been accepted by
the city but was later codified after modifications were made by the
California Seismic Safety Commission. 
The Expert was well known and had a strong reputation, but this was
obviously written to use his Curriculum Vitae to convince a judge that this
was a viable case to justify the suit. I lost my respect for this individual
because his report represented the side that paid him and was not an ethical
representation of the standard of practice at the time.
4. Condo associations can count on disgruntled owners who wish to complain
about defects. This opens the door to hiring a private engineer to evaluate
the damage or defect and then opens the door to potential legal action
against the builder if within the 10 year statute.

This is what constitutes a high risk - politically and socially dissatisfied
owners and HOA's and Legal firms with enough capital to fund one or more
contingency cases that can be settled without the cost of litigation as most
are. On the other hand, take a single homeowner who gets screwed and buys a
home infested with termites that requires the home be demolished (as did
happen to a client of mine). An individual owner can't go to a law firm that
will take the case on contingency and they don't have the money (in most
cases) to pay the hourly rates of most legal firms. The group is what almost
guarantees settlements where as individuals are forced to seek the help of
small law firms who do not have the resources or capital to front the money
necessary for experts and depositions. 

This is no different with medical legal action. If not a class action or
group suit, the individual will have a difficult time finding
representation.

Dennis
-----Original Message-----
From: Scott, William N. [mailto:William.Scott(--nospam--at)veco.com] 
Sent: Tuesday, August 15, 2006 4:28 PM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org
Subject: RE: What is it about Condos

Shared cost for legal action.

-----Original Message-----
From: Caldwell, Stan [mailto:scaldwell(--nospam--at)halff.com] 
Sent: Tuesday, August 15, 2006 1:08 PM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org
Subject: RE: What is it about Condos

Mark Johnson wrote:

I was talking with another engineer that does residential in the SF Bay
area who is a principle of a old mid-sized firm, i.e. not a fly-by-night
place.  He said that they also used to do condo projects but that they
had been sued on 100% of the condo projects they had done, so they no
longer do them.  If I heard him right and if he is close to right,
that's incredible and it tops all similar statements I've heard about
them

What is it about condos that makes them so legally crazy?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Mark:

I recommend that you read an article about lawsuits related to
condominium projects in Dallas.  It was recently (July 28, 2006)
published in the Dallas Business Journal and is available online (3 web
pages) at:

http://dallas.bizjournals.com/dallas/stories/2006/07/31/story1.html

Note that the subtitle is:

Experts: "Legal 'perfect storm' could cast pall on Dallas' condo boom."

This is a very interesting article that will make you think twice about
undertaking condominium projects.

Regards,

Stan R. Caldwell. P.E.
Dallas, Texas

P.S.>  I hope that your friend is actually a principal. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
What disease did cured ham actually have?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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