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Seaside views… and an ocean of alleged construction defects


Almost 10 years after a shoreline condominium’s complex completion, its HOA filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit. The subject building was a townhouse style in the Northeast that had been constructed immediately adjacent to a marina. In order to shore up construction as well as afford residents and other passers-by the opportunity to stroll directly along the water, a seawall subcontractor was hired. The HOA alleged that not only did the entire seawall have to be dug up and replaced but that the so-called faulty seawall… had caused damaged to the boardwalk… which then caused damage to the brick pavers set in sand… which were then collapsing walls… in short, a laundry list and a litigation litany.


One of Guardian Group’s forensic engineers, with considerable geotechnical experience, was dispatched to the property where he completed a thorough site investigation. Photographically documenting his inspection, he observed how the contractor had driven a precast concrete bulkhead into the sand, with a dead-man behind it with iron rods for attachment. Atop of this sat a wooden boardwalk, which abutted the sand bed pavers. While there was admittedly some settlement underneath the boardwalk with an approximate 6” gap to grade, that was the sum of the damage observed. In the mind of the experienced expert: of course, there is going to be visible rust and a modicum (within generally accepted building standards) of movement in a coastal environment. But it’s the absence of proper maintenance that really causes problems. Was ongoing care really the responsibility of the seawall contractor?


During a mediated teleconference, members of the HOA board continued to voice all of their concerns relating not only to the concrete bulkhead but to the pavers and walls. First, Guardian’s expert spoke about the rusty and exposed bolts that lacked maintenance. Then, after thoroughly explaining proper maintenance and reminding folks of Hurricane Sandy’s force, some of the HOA board moved onto grievances over the pavers and “collapsing” walls. Guardian’s expert quickly popped his complete series of site photos onto the screen – no one on the call could identify any issues. While mediation concluded with a minor but fair settlement, as is common when one weighs against the cost of protracted litigation, the presentation of environmental, seawall, boardwalk and paving facts spared the contractor’s carrier almost $5 million.


When carriers and their counsel require forensic engineering support, they often call upon the experts at Guardian Group. Guardian’s engineers and other construction defect specialists draw upon over 30 years’ complex construction claims experience. They leverage their knowledge to determine exactly what happened and why, conducting appropriate testing, and clearly spelling out a fact pattern in order to help the legal and insurance communities expediently resolve cases and claims. Attorneys especially appreciate the prompt attention, pragmatic advice, and professionalism provided. Now operating as a division of YA, your cases and claims benefit from a deep bench of technical expertise located across the country, in Mexico, and in the U.K. When you require a vigilant eye on construction defect matters, kindly call on the team at Guardian Group.

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