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Lessons learned from “leaning tower of San Francisco”

The Role of a Peer Reviewer By now, many of you are probably familiar with the litigation swirling around the Millennium Tower, San Francisco’s $350 million, 58-story condominium building. When it opened in 2008, it was touted as the most luxurious tower in San Francisco, attracting wealthy purchasers from tech millionaires, venture capitalists, and local … Continue reading

Oroville Dam crisis

The dramatic images of water crashing down the Oroville Dam Spillway in California have shown us that we are dependent on infrastructure that is now well over 50 years old. Engineers know that the hydrologic models used to model weather events are based on data that was collected decades ago. As noted in an article … Continue reading

$227 million settlement reached in building collapse

A 2013 building collapse, which was discussed in our blog post, “2013 Philadelphia building collapse,” just settled for $227 million. After almost 4 years, including a 5-month trial, the 19 people who were killed or injured and their families will finally receive compensation. The trial was the longest in Philadelphia court history, and the settlement … Continue reading

Should you be concerned about consequential damage claims?

Recently, I’ve received a number of telephone calls from design firms concerned about consequential damage claims and contract language that refers to these damages. I thought it might be a good time to take a look at how this affects design professionals. Here are some of the questions I’ve received: 1. “What are consequential damages?” … Continue reading

EJCDC releases new documents

The Engineers Joint Contract Documents Committee (EJCDC) recently updated E-580, Teaming Agreement to Pursue Joint Professional Services Opportunity. The revisions allow the document to function as a new stand-alone teaming agreement that is suitable for firms interested in “a wide variety of project-pursuit purposes.” E-580 makes it very clear that if the team fails to … Continue reading

Case study: good news for architect defending public nuisance lawsuit

The following case study shows the importance of a well-drafted professional services agreement that clearly delineates a firm’s scope of services and explicitly places responsibility for site safety with the contractor. If the agreement provides for any construction phase services by the design professional, the agreement should include express language that the contractor is solely … Continue reading

Exciting times ahead for road infrastructure

Big name companies such as Google, Uber, and major car companies are investing a lot of resources in autonomous vehicles. The focus right now is on these vehicles making driving decisions without driver input and vehicles possibly communicating with each other. Some technologists believe that it is essential that the vehicles also be able to … Continue reading

Finding balance: new governance structure in America

The pendulum of public policy in the US has swung, and, to many, it has swung in a way that is unsettling different, and confusing. Historically, we could imagine with some reasonableness what a new Administration would yield for the American people. But the 2016 political process has propelled us toward a future that’s extremely … Continue reading

Be careful with seasonal gifts to public employees

It’s that time of year when gifts among friends are common. If those friends are in private firms or public agencies, however, those gifts can cost both parties their careers. Even the appearance of impropriety can create a public relations nightmare. Firms must act in compliance with applicable gift-giving laws, which vary depending on the … Continue reading

Definition of “success” is relative for condo claims

Condominium work is coming back strong after being scarce for several years. Many millennials and other first time buyers can and want to invest in condo units in urban areas. And renting is less attractive to a maturing class of residential owners as they downsize from single-family homes. Condo projects can be tempting work for … Continue reading