LITIGATION DEPARTMENT OF THE YEAR - Mid-Size Firm  ALM's Daily Report   2017 - 2016 - 2014

Summary Judgment Granted to Engineer for Alleged Defective Design

WWHGD represented one of the country’s premier design firms in a case arising out of the design and construction of an underground stormwater detention vault.  The vault was located adjacent to an eight-story apartment building that was owned by the plaintiff.  The plaintiff alleged that the excavation and bracing and dewatering activities necessary to construct the vault caused the ground underneath the apartment building to settle resulting in structural damage to the building. 

Plaintiff filed suit against ten different parties including WWHGD’s client, who was the engineer of record for the vault, claiming damages of $9 million.  The allegations against WWHGD’s client were based on alleged defective design of permanent and temporary dewatering.  Subsequent to the initial complaint, the plaintiff attempted to argue that the client was also responsible for failing to supervise properly the contractor’s construction activities.

Following extensive discovery, nine of the defendants settled with the plaintiff, leaving WWHGD’s client as the only defendant.  WWHGD moved for summary judgment on the grounds that the client was not responsible for the contractor’s temporary works, that the client’s own designs were not defective or were not adhered to by the contractor, and on the ground that its client did not owe the plaintiff any duty to supervise the contractor.  The United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia granted the motion and dismissed all claims against WWHGD’s client.

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