Frontier Dev. LLC v. Craig Test Boring Co., 2017 U.S. Dist. Lexis 149950 (D.N.J. Sept. 15, 2017)

On September 15, 2017, the Federal District Court for the District of New Jersey dismissed plaintiff’s, Frontier Development LLC’s, complaint for breach of contract against defendants, Craig Test Boring Co., Inc. and Craig Testing Laboratories, Inc., on the grounds that plaintiff failed to timely file an affidavit of merit as required by New Jersey statute.  The case is a reminder that plaintiffs making claims that sound in professional negligence must be aware of state statues requiring the submission of an affidavit of merit.
Plaintiff was the developer of a commercial building in Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey.  To prepare the site for construction, plaintiff was required to determine the depth of the topsoil it would have to remove and whether the soil beneath the topsoil was stable enough to support the foundations.  To do so, plaintiff engaged the services of defendants to perform geotechnical testing and prepare a soil boring report.  After receiving the report from the defendants and implementing the report’s recommendations, plaintiff claimed that the report’s conclusions were faulty and, as a result, plaintiff removed an excessive amount of topsoil and loose ground underneath the topsoil causing unnecessary delays and construction costs.

Continue Reading Federal Court in New Jersey Holds That Failure to Timely File an Affidavit of Merit Dooms Owner’s Claim for Breach of Contract Against GeoTech Companies

Balfour Beatty Infrastructure, Inc. v. Rummel Klepper & Kahl, LLP, 226 Md. App. 420, 130 A.3d 1024, 2016 Md. App. LEXIS 3 ( Md. Ct. Spec. App. Jan. 28, 2016)

The City of Baltimore retained a design professional, Rummel Klepper & Kahl (“RK&K”), to produce a design for construction of a wastewater treatment plant.  The City then invited bids for construction of the plant, and contractor Balfour Beatty Infrastructure (“Balfour Beatty”) was the successful bidder.  RK&K and Balfour Beatty each had a separate contract with the City, but did not have a contract with one another.  After alleged defects in RK&K’s design caused Balfour Beatty to incur delays and increases to the cost of its work, it sued RK&K, but not the City.

Continue Reading Maryland Appellate Court Holds Economic Loss Doctrine Bars Contractor’s Tort Claims Against Government’s Design Professional on Public Construction Project

City of Whiting, Indiana v. Whitney, Bailey, Cox, & Magnani, LLC, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 150229 (N.D. Ind. Nov. 5, 2015)

The City of Whiting, Indiana (the “City”) contracted with American Structurepoint, Inc. (“Engineer”) to design a lakefront park that would protect its shoreline from erosion (the “Project”).  Engineer subcontracted with Whitney, Bailey, Cox, & Magnani, LLC (“Subconsultant”) to serve as the marine engineer for the Project (the “Subcontract”).  Pursuant to the Subcontract, Subconsultant designed a revetment to protect the Project shoreline.  The revetment failed, damaging the City’s property and necessitating remediation.

Continue Reading Federal Court in Indiana Permits City to Sue Design Subconsultant Despite Lack Of Privity

Apex Directional Drilling, LLC v. SHN Consulting Eng’rs & Geologists, Inc., 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 105537 (N.D. Cal. Aug. 11, 2015)

The United States District Court for the Northern District of California held that an engineer that prepares plans and specifications to be relied upon by contractors in preparing their bids for a construction project owes a duty of care to those contractors, and therefore can be held liable to the contractors for breach of professional duty and/or negligent misrepresentation.

Continue Reading U.S. District Court for Northern District of California Holds Engineer May Be Liable to Contractor for Breach of Professional Duty and Negligent Misrepresentation

Wax NJ-2, LLC v. JFB Constr. & Dev., 13-cv-4537, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 74508 (S.D.N.Y. June 9, 2015)

Wax NJ-2, LLC (“Wax”) hired the architectural firm GF55 Partners (“GF55”) to design and then inspect construction of a store that Wax planned to open in New York City.  The building which Wax was preparing to lease for the store had been leased as two separate commercial spaces.  Wax had the option of moving a partition wall between the two spaces and thus increasing or decreasing the amount of square footage leased for its store.  In designing the layout of Wax’s store, GF55 reported to Wax that the footprint called for 1235 square feet.  Wax then entered into a lease agreement with the owner for 1235 square feet of the building at $125 per square foot.  Construction commenced, and GF55’s remaining obligations under its contract with Wax included inspection of the contractor’s work to ensure compliance with the building code.

Continue Reading Federal Court in New York Applies Scope of Duty Analysis in Deciding Claim for Architectural Malpractice

Gongloff Contracting, L.L.C. v. L. Robert Kimball & Assocs., Architects and Eng’rs, Inc., 2015 Pa. Super 149 (Pa. Super. Ct. July 8, 2015)

Pennsylvania law generally bars negligence claims when the injured party has suffered only economic losses.  This principle is commonly referred to as the economic loss doctrine.  An exception to this doctrine is found in Section 552(1) of the Restatement (Second) of Torts, which provides that, “one who, in the course of his business, profession or employment … supplies false information for the guidance of others in their business transactions, is subject to liability for pecuniary loss caused to them by their justifiable reliance upon the information, if he fails to exercise reasonable care or competence in obtaining or communicating the information.” In Bilt-Rite Contractors, Inc. v. Architectural Studio, 581 Pa. 545 (2005), the Pennsylvania Supreme Court adopted this exception and found it to be applicable in cases where information is negligently supplied by an architect or design professional under circumstances where it is foreseeable that others will rely upon that information.  In Gongloff, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, interpreting Bilt-Rite, held that the Bilt-Rite exception can be triggered when an architect or design professional negligently includes faulty information in its design documents.  The Gongloff court rejected the argument that, under Bilt-Rite, an injured party is required to identify an “express” misrepresentation in a particular communication or document in order to support a claim of negligent misrepresentation.

Continue Reading Superior Court of Pennsylvania Holds that Negligent Misrepresentation Exception to Economic Loss Doctrine Under Bilt-Rite May Be Predicated on Implied Representation in Negligently Prepared Design Documents

USA Walnut Creek, DST v. Terracon Consultants, Inc. f/k/a HBC Engineering, Inc., 2015 Tex. App. LEXIS 1806 (Tex. App. 2015)

This cases arises out of the construction of a twelve building apartment complex in Austin Texas.  The builders, Creekstone Walnut, LP and Creekstone Builders, Inc., contracted with defendant Terracon for geotechnical engineering and inspection services.  As part of the services, Terracon performed test borings and provided the geotechnical recommendations for, among other things, the foundation design.  Terracon’s inspection services included providing testing and inspection of the construction materials, including compaction testing on the earthwork.

Continue Reading Texas Court of Appeals Holds that Economic Loss Doctrine Does Not Bar Building Owner’s Negligence Claims Against Geotechnical Engineer