We regularly represent construction and design firms in high-stakes litigation. We represent our clients vigorously and mitigate any potential fall-out from their legal issues. While our goal is always to eliminate any fall-out, sometimes mitigation is what our client needs. Whatever the case, we work with our clients to understand their legal vulnerability and develop a plan with desired outcomes. Here’s an example.
The Legal Dilemma
A structural engineer comes to us because they are being sued for a balcony collapse. While there were no personal injuries, there was economic damage – the plaintiff claimed there was $5,000,000 worth of damages, repairs and lost market value. The plaintiff claimed that the structural engineer failed to properly design the balconies and failed to identify the mistakes of the construction team during the inspection phase of construction. While our client denied that it designed the balconies improperly, our client admitted that they should have identified the construction team’s mistakes.
In this case, because our client admitted partial responsibility, the goal was not to eliminate the exposure, but to reduce it. We developed a plan and proved to the jury our client properly designed the balconies, but the contraction team failed to install them according to the design. We proved that while our client may have been partially at fault for not identifying the construction team’s mistakes during inspections, that we were not 100% at fault. We also proved that the plaintiff’s damages of $5,000,000 were exaggerated.
Because we were able to fashion an appropriate defense, the jury verdict came back in favor of the plaintiff, as expected, but for significantly less money in damages. In fact, the jury reduced the $5,000,000 claim to $1,370,000. In addition, the jury found that our client was only 50% responsible, and the construction team was responsible for the other 50%, meaning the verdict against our client was only $650,000. Reducing our client’s financial exposure from $5,000,000 to $650,000, a reduction of 87%, was a total win for our client.
Simply because you may be at fault in some way does not mean you should forfeit your right to a vigorous legal defense. We work with our clients to determine the exposure, identify the relevant facts and other at-fault parties to reduce that exposure.