RECENT SIGNIFICANT CASES
Among the cases handled by the firm, some of the more recent significant cases are as follows:
HIGHRISE CONSTRUCTION AND INDEMNITY CLAIMS
This was a case of first impression involving claims by Retirement Systems of Alabama against the geotechnical design Engineer for negligently designing the foundation system for the RSA Tower in Mobile. The Engineer filed a third party complaint against our client claiming that the failure of the foundation system was caused by faulty construction methods and inadequate equipment used in the installation of the piles, rather than its professional negligence in designing the foundation system. This case involved defense and indemnity claims between the General Contractor and against our client the pile installation subcontractor. After sufficient discovery was completed, a Motion for Summary Judgment was filed on behalf of our client, which the Court granted, dismissing all claims against our client, holding that a third party claim could not be maintained by a design professional against a subcontractor.
CONSTRUCTION SITE ASSAULT
In this case we represented the General Contractor of a project in Mobile. An employee was performing punch list items on the construction site when he observed the Plaintiff walking in the parking lot of the newly constructed facility. There were “no trespassing” signs at the entrance to the facility that the Plaintiff ignored. The employee drove his pick-up truck to the Plaintiff’s location in the parking lot to instruct the Plaintiff to leave the premises, whereupon an argument ensued that resulted in the employee running over the Plaintiff causing the Plaintiff severe injuries.
Plaintiff filed suit in the Circuit Court of Mobile County claiming damages of $2.5 million against the Construction Company alleging that the employee was acting within the line and scope of his employment at the time of the incident. We successfully defended on the basis that the employee had acted outside the line and scope of his employment. After a one week trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of our client.
We represented the site contractor who performed all of the grading, contouring, fill work and construction of storm water detention ponds on the 230 acre retail shopping center in Spanish Fort, Alabama. Before construction was completed by our client the slopes on the site began to fail, sink holes developed and damage to the large parking areas and roadways in the project occurred. The Plaintiff, a developer out of Dallas, Texas, sued our client in the Circuit Court of Baldwin County, Alabama, alleging damages for faulty work in excess of $57 million dollars.
After a two week trial, an arbitration panel unanimously ruled in favor of our client, not only denying the developer’s $57 million claim, but awarding our client a six figure judgment for money withheld by the plaintiff.
DRAM SHOP LIABILITY
We represented a convenience store chain owner who owns stores throughout Georgia and Alabama. The Minor Plaintiff was severely injured resulting in permanent brain damage when the vehicle in which he was a passenger ran off the road and overturning multiple times. The driver of the vehicle and the Plaintiff were high school students who had skipped school to attend a party in Orange Beach, where they consumed alcohol and became intoxicated leading to a single vehicle accident on their way back to Mobile.
Suit was filed on behalf of minor Plaintiff/passenger seeking substantial damages claiming that the driver of the vehicle, also a minor, had consumed alcohol he purchased with a fake ID at our client’s convenience store on their way to the party, in violation of ABC Regulations and Alabama law prohibiting the sale of alcohol to minors. We successfully defended our client in this case on the facts. Evidence was produced at trial that our client had policies and procedures that were enforced which prohibited the sale of alcohol to minors.
Although the facts of this case were sad and tragic, after a one week trial and approximately a day of deliberation, the jury returned a complete defense verdict in favor of our client.
CONSTRUCTION DEFECT AND DELAY DAMAGES
This case arose out of a 100 million dollar project at Auburn University involving the construction of four story wood frame dorms. Our client was the initial framing Subcontractor. The General Contractor claimed that it suffered 16 million dollars in damages allegedly due to construction deficiencies and mistakes made by our client in connection with the wood framing and delays caused thereby. After substantial discovery, including the production of hundreds of thousands of pages of documents and approximately 60 depositions, the case was settled for a favorable amount to avoid future defense costs.
ARCHITECT NEGLIGENCE AND DELAY DAMAGES
In this case, we represented the Plaintiff, a local general contractor who built a public school in Baldwin County. Our client alleged that several problems arose during construction causing completion of the school to be delayed approximately eighteen months. We filed suit on behalf of our client against the architect asserting that the problems and delays that occurred during construction were caused by design deficiencies, lack of coordination between the design professionals and poor contract administration by the architect resulting in our client incurring substantial damages due to the problems and delays.
After extensive discovery involving the production of approximately 100,000 pages of documents and many depositions, the case was settled for approximately $750,000.00 being paid to our client. We were able to prove that the design professionals were reckless in preparing the plans and specifications for the job and failed to properly coordinate the activities of the engineers and architects. It is believed that this is one of the largest settlements involving construction delay damages in Alabama arising out of a construction project of this size.
In this case we represented the Plaintiff who was injured on the job as a tire changer for a national tire distributor. The on-the-job incident involved a lifting back injury. After undergoing treatment by a general practitioner physician, he was referred to a Board Certified orthopedic surgeon for evaluation. Upon evaluating our client, the orthopedic surgeon recommended various conservative, non-surgical treatments which the worker’s compensation carrier refused to authorize based upon its Utilization Review Program. The Utilization Review Program involved authorized treating physician’s recommended treatment being reviewed by physicians who were under contract with the worker’s compensation carrier had a contract to review treatments recommended by the authorized treating physician.
The Plaintiff claimed in summary that the Utilization Review Program was a sham and resulted in the refusal to authorize medically necessary treatments prescribed by the authorized treating physician, during which the Plaintiff was in severe pain. Ultimately the authorized board certified surgeon recommended surgery, which the worker’s compensation carrier likewise refused to authorize. After proving our allegations, Plaintiff’s worker’s compensation case was settled for the maximum amount allowed by law for our client and the suit against the worker’s compensation carrier alleging outrage stemming from its utilization review program was settled for a confidential undisclosed amount.
In this case, we represented the Plaintiff which involved a corporate split up and allegations that our client had been “squeezed out” as a minority shareholder by the majority shareholders. After an approximately week-long trial and several post trial hearings, the Court awarded our client approximately $250,000.00, which was approximately 10 times what he was offered as a settlement before trial.