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Florida Construction Law News

16NOV 2014

Engineering Malpractice Defense Verdict for Coastal Engineering Firm

by Thomas Shea

Example of DredgingThe Florida law firm of Cole, Scott & Kissane, P.A. proudly announces another defense verdict in a construction case in which it defended Florida’s premier Coastal, Waterfront, and Dredging Engineering firm. View the Engineering Malpractice Trial Verdict.

Background of the Engineering Malpractice Case

George Truitt and Daniel Duello defended Taylor Engineering, Inc. and two individual engineers against a lawsuit brought by Dickerson Florida, Inc., a dredging contractor. The plaintiff initially retained Taylor Engineering to assist with the review and development of a bid proposal for a project in Martin County to dredge the Manatee Pocket waterway. In these types of projects, the dredged materials are initially pumped into a nearby dredged materials management area (“DMMA”), so the water can be separated from the dredged material. The runoff water is processed through a “polishing pond” before being returned to the waterway. The processed water must meet certain clarity requirements before being pumped back into the waterway.

Plaintiff was awarded the $11 million dollar project, and it then retained our client as a subconsultant to design the DMMA. As the project progressed, it became evident that the dredged material contained more fine silts and clays than anticipated by the contractor. This caused the contractor to slow the processing of water through the DMMA and polishing pond, haul more material from the DMMA than budgeted for, and to incur additional labor, equipment, and material costs during the extended duration of the operation DMMA.

Claims Alleged in the Engineering Malpractice Case

The contractor claimed that negligent misrepresentations by the engineers caused it to drastically underbid the job, and that the design of the work plan and DMMA were negligent, causing the job to last longer and cost more than anticipated in the contractor’s schedule and bid.

The engineers denied that some of the representations were made, and claimed that others were taken out of context and not intended to be relied on by the contractor in the preparation of its bid and schedule. With regard to the design, the engineers contended the DMMA functioned as designed and the difficulties encountered were caused by Plaintiff’s lack of relevant experience, which it had misrepresented in its bid response, and its decisions to deviate from the design and recommendations.

CSK Construction Law Group Obtained Complete Defense Verdict

The contractor asked the jury for $3.45 million in damages for additional costs, and the engineering firm demanded payment of its contract balance of $35,000.00. After a two week jury trial, the jury deliberated for two hours, and returned defense verdicts for the firm and individual engineers, awarding Plaintiff nothing and awarding Taylor Engineering its full contract balance.

This verdict will allow our clients to recover substantially all of their attorneys’ fees and costs under an expired proposal for settlement made early in the case. This is the Construction Group’s sixth defense verdict in its last six jury trials in Broward, Palm Beach, Miami-Dade, and Duval Counties, respectively.

Posted By Thomas Shea