Effect on a third party of a settlement agreement between the project owner and a supplier of materials. Aggregate Construction, Inc., v. Aaron Swan & Associates, Inc. Supreme Court of South Dakota (2015), by Hugh Anderson

Aggregate Construction was a supplier to highway contractors. The specifications for a South Dakota DOT project required aggregate that would meet a specific sodium sulfate soundness level. Aggregate retained Swan to test aggregate from a particular pit, and after testing Swan informed Aggregate that the material met the sodium sulfate requirement. Aggregate offered to supply […]

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Whether a company that collected field information about an electrical utility’s facilities was practicing surveying. Southeastern Reprographics, Inc., v. Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs. Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania (2015), by Hugh Anderson

The Central Electric Cooperative (CEC), a rural electric distribution company, contracted with Davey Resource Group (DRG) to conduct a field inventory of all CEC equipment, including transmission, distribution, and light poles, equipment, regulators, and meters. These CEC assets were spread out over several Pennsylvania counties. DRG used maps and mapping-grade GPS and GIS technology to […]

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Engineering firm’s duty to defend project owner against a claim based on design deficiencies. Penta Corporation v. Town of Newport. Superior Court, New Hampshire (2016), by Hugh Anderson

The Town of Newport, N.H., retained AECOM to study the Town’s wastewater treatment plant, prepare drawings and specifications of upgrades, and provide construction-phase engineering services. AECOM recommended a disc filter system as part of the facility’s phosphorus treatment upgrade. Penta Corporation constructed the new upgraded plant using drawings and specifications prepared by AECOM. The upgrade […]

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Engineer’s exposure to contractor claims. Balfour Beatty Infrastructure, Inc. v. Rummel Klepper & Kahl,, LLP. Court of Special Appeals of Maryland (2016), by Hugh Anderson

Summary: Design-bid-build City of Baltimore wastewater treatment plant upgrade project. The engineering firm Rummel Klepper  & Kahl prepared the design  and project timeline estimates. Fru-Con Construction (predecessor to Balfour Beatty Infrastructure) was the successful bidder. BBI ultimately filed a $10 million lawsuit against RKK, alleging negligence and similar tort claims based on contentions that BBI […]

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Engineering/Architecture firms’ exposure to liability for scaffold collapse. McKean v. Yates Engineering Corporation. Court of Appeals of Mississippi (2015),by Hugh Anderson

Summary: This case presents a host of issues, some of which will be listed in bulleted form at the end of the Comment below. The focus of the summary will be on the potential liability of the project architect and the contractor’s engineering consultant for injuries that occurred when a scaffold collapsed. The hospital project […]

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Obligation of Commercial General Liability insurance carrier when the insured has settled a claim without notice to, or involvement of, insurance carrier. Travelers Property Casualty Company v. Stresscon Corporation. Supreme Court of Colorado. (2016), by Hugh Anderson

Summary: After a serious crane accident on a construction project, the general contractor, Mortenson, sought delay damages from its concrete subcontractor, Stresscon. Stresscon notified its Commercial General Liability insurance carrier, Travelers. After a period of inaction, Mortenson and Stresscon agreed to a settlement, and Stresscon paid Mortenson the settlement amount. Stresscon subsequently sought damages from […]

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Project Owner’s right to pursue claims directly against Engineer’s subconsultant. City of Whiting v. Whitney, Bailey, Cox & Magnani, LLC. United States District Court, Northern District of Indiana (2015), by Hugh Anderson

Summary: The City of Whiting, on Lake Michigan, retained Structurepoint as its consulting engineer on a lakeshore park, marina, and shoreline protection project. Structurepoint in turn retained WBCM as a subconsultant for portions of the professional services. WBCM designed a shoreline  revetment structure armored with stone. According to the city, during and after construction the […]

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Abandoned Mine Projects Need Better Engineering Expertise, Report Says, by Arthur Schwartz, NSPE Deputy Executive Director & General Counsel

A federal report on the accidental release of three million gallons of toxic water from an abandoned Colorado mine provides an in-depth, technical look at the incident. It also provides irrefutable evidence that proper engineering expertise is needed to protect the public health, safety, and welfare. Two of the three members of the evaluation and peer […]

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EPA Proposes PEs on Risk Management Teams by Arthur Schwartz, NSPE Deputy Executive Director & General Counsel

Professional engineers may gain a greater oversight role at chemical facilities and others that handle hazardous materials if a proposed rule increasing safety requirements is approved by the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA proposes requiring the use of PEs in its Risk Management Programs. This action is in response to catastrophic chemical facility incidents in […]

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