Construction Expert Witness Services For Legal Cases

Expert Witness Services

Construction is not an exact science and situations can develop into disputes that lead to lawsuits. With construction related lawsuits, attorneys require assistance from consultants who have technical knowledge and the ability to exhibit sound judgement in order to serve as expert witnesses. The attorneys require an expert that can interpret construction documents, understand construction contracts, understand the construction process, interpret conditions that exist at the construction site, and who have the ability to perform forensic investigations.

At Harper-Brawner, each of our consultants who assist with legal cases has in excess of forty years of experience in the areas of design, preparing construction details, preparing specifications, assisting in the preparation of construction contracts, construction, construction administration, forensic investigation, construction remediation, and building restoration. We have a deep understanding of construction standards and terms: a factor that puts us in a position to discuss methodologies, processes, and materials used in the project as well as technical language, industry standards, and complex issues. We have the ability to assess the conditions relevant to each individual legal case, to prepare reports documented with examples and photographs, and communicate the technical aspects to the attorneys. We are experienced in providing assistance with mediation, testimony in depositions, and testimony in court. We work with many types of alleged construction defects on many types of structures. With our experience, we can distinguish between allegations and the truth, and assist attorneys in making informed decisions.

Bland Harper, as a licensed architect for forty years has been assisting as a knowledgeable construction expert for legal proceedings for more than twenty five years. Since the formation of Harper-Brawner, the firm has assisted with more than a hundred lawsuits, working with a number of different attorneys. On most judicial proceedings, we are retained by an attorney and are essentially employed by an insurance company under the guidance of the attorney to defend an architect, contractor, or sub-contractor. On about 10% of the cases, we are retained by the owners or the owner’s attorney to assist in representing them against companies who designed and/or built their facility. We have been retained by insurance companies to assess conditions at a site to assist them in determining their exposure prior to a lawsuit being filed. We have also been retained in conjunction with other engineers and consultants to work as a team in the defense of a contractor or sub-contractor when the issues are related to the structural aspects, water intrusion, and other issues.

Who We Work With

At Harper-Brawner, our expertise and experience give us a unique perspective to review building conditions that could be subject to lawsuits. In addition, we can identify design and construction flaws and conditions that have been improperly designed and installed. We also assess when alleged construction defects have actually been designed and constructed properly. So who do we work with?

Over the last 25 years, we have worked with more than 30 different legal firms. Our work has involved close collaboration with attorneys from these firms. A good number of these clients have subsequently retained us to provide services for additional legal cases with different conditions due to the industry experience we have.

We are capable of serving as professional experts on different issues and can provide a skillful opinion in legal arguments touching on different building types. For any construction related legal action, you need a reliable team by your side. Whatever your legal issue may be, we will be ready to assist.

With litigation, we have worked with more than thirty different legal firms and have worked with some of these attorneys over an extended period of more than twenty five years on a number of different court proceedings. The long term and broad-based architectural experience of Bland Harper combined with the extended industry experience of Howard Kinsel allows us a unique perspective to the review of conditions that are subject to the lawsuits. We can identify both design and production flaws, as well as properly designed and installed conditions. The assistance we have provided to attorneys has led to repeat business on other cases and having been referred as experts to other attorneys.

The legal actions have extended to a fairly broad range of structure types. There have been a number of cases related to apartment or condominium multifamily facilities. Quite a few cases have involved single family residences. We have worked with lawsuits involving commercial facilities such as office buildings or retail stores. School facilities such as elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, and stadiums have been the focus for many of the judicial proceedings. A few of the cases have concerned church facilities, museums, assisted living facilities, food production facilities, and a county court house.

For about 90% of the legal cases, we have worked to assist in the defense of an architect, structural engineer, contractor, or sub-contractor. We have worked in the defense of all types of contractors including, framing, roofing, HVAC, stucco, drywall, balcony/light weight concrete, paving, waterproofing, landscaping, door and trim, flooring, excavation, pre-cast concrete, and deck coating. We have also worked in the defense of window manufacturers, roofing material manufacturers, window suppliers, and roofing material suppliers. We have worked on a case concerning door hardware and a case that involved deck coating on the flight deck of a retired aircraft carrier serving as a museum.
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Types of Cases

We’ve outlined the clients we’ve worked with; but what about the cases themselves? We deal with almost every type of facility that becomes involved in a lawsuit, ranging from single family residences to commercial facilities. Whenever you are looking for a design or construction defects expert, look no further than Harper-Brawner. Here are some of the arguments we address:

  • Most of the facilities involved in lawsuits have problems. We assist in determining whether the fault is due to the design and whether the contractor or subcontractor installed the specified products in accordance with the specified materials and detailing.
  • Construction Defects: Allegations of construction defects becomes a difficult issue. There may be defects, but are they due to the design, due to the products that were installed, or due to the actual application or installation of the products. We assist in determining the source of the defects.
  • Responsible Party: With a construction project that has problems, there were many different sub-contractors involved. We assist in determining which aspect of the construction and which individual sub-contractors were at fault, or not at fault.
  • Installation of Non-Specified Products: In many construction projects that ultimately have problems, it is discovered that sub-contractors installed products other than the specific materials included in the specifications. We assist in determining whether the specified products were actually installed, and if they were not, did the alternate products have a negative effect on the ultimate performance of the building.
  • Failure to Provide Proper Information During Design: On some projects that result in lawsuits, the specified products might be installed but problems result. We assist in determining whether the manufacturer or material supplier provided the design individuals with proper information concerning products that should have been provided based on the building’s design and location.
  • The allegations that lead to lawsuits sometimes become exaggerated and overstated. We assist in determining the actual extent of damage and when possible, assist in determining which aspect of the construction actually was the cause of the damage.
  • Damage to Adjacent Structures: In some cases, buildings adjacent to construction projects claim that construction procedures caused damage to their facility. We assist in reviewing the procedures performed, the construction of the building claiming damage, and the apparent cause of the conditions being claimed as construction related damage.

When serving as construction experts, there are several tasks we may be required to perform. The Harper Brawner services for legal proceedings typically involve the following actions:

  • Review documents provided by the attorney. We will first look for conflicts that would prevent our involvement and then obtain information about the case.
  • Visit the site to review and photograph existing conditions.
  • If it is felt that additional site investigation is required, we will develop an inspection and testing protocol and direct invasive investigation when required.
  • When additional inspections, testing, and invasive inspection is to be performed by others, we will be at the site to observe and photograph the testing and investigation being carried out by other parties.
  • Our work includes reviewing the file information and expert reports provided by others. We compare that information to our findings and start developing disputes to that information when required.
  • Meet with the attorneys we are assisting to discuss our findings as they compare to allegations related to the legal case. We then present our understanding of the conditions at the site and an overall summary of what can be included in our report and how we will be able to support our opinions.
  • We then perform additional research when required to properly support our findings.
  • As design and construction professionals, we assist with reviewing the potential method of remediation and the potential construction cost to perform the remediation.
  • We prepare reports to document our findings and include examples and photographs to exhibit and support our findings.
  • When required, we will assist the attorney by participating in the mediation and arbitration processes.
  • With many cases, we are required to appear and be deposed by the attorneys for the other parties in the case.
  • When required, we testify in court.

In addition to this summary, we provide additional services as requested by the attorneys and as required with the individual legal cases.

Get in Touch Today

At Harper-Brawner, we are professional roofing, waterproofing, building envelope, building restoration, and general construction experts and consultants. Due to our practice of working with projects from the design phase through construction, we have the expertise required to assist when problems develop that result in legal action. We are qualified and experienced in determining whether construction defects exist, and assisting attorneys through the legal process. We have done so on well over a hundred cases. We have worked to assist both the Plaintiff and the Defendant. If you are looking for a consultant to assist by providing expert witness services, please contact Harper-Brawner at (817) 633-3334.