Look At The Contractors

As the attorney for the developer of Guam's Royal Palm Resort, I would like to clarify a few impressions from your story on the lawsuits "Jury That Deliberated a Year Awards Owners $146.8 million" (ENR 5/6 p. 14).

I suggested that, in my view, everyone on this project let the owner down; however, the further "claims" attributed to me were not mine. To be clear, I confirmed that engineers on both sides of The case testified that the structural design did not meet code. But I [also] explained that structural engineers testifIed that those design flaws would not trigger this collapse.

In regard to questions of the building's chances for survival had the inspectors caught the contractors' deviations from the design, my answer was that our experts testified that the building would have survived the earthquake if the contractors had not omitted 55,000 pieces of rebar that were designed to be in the structures. The inspectors' errors were secondary, as we contended and as the jury found.

To clarify for ENR readers and as everyone who went through this trial knows, I did not blame the collapse on structural engineer Endymion Chen's failures, as is implied in the article. In fact and as I explained, the jury found that Chen and his company were not responsible ("0%"), and Chen was not even called as a witness at trial.

The jury found Mitsui Construction Co. to be 25% responsible for compensatory, not punitive, damages, and SsangYong Engineering & Construction was 75% and 100% responsible for compensatory and punitive damages, respectively.

In your article "Los Angeles' Finished Alameda Corridor Meets the Grade," you inaccurately stated the facts when reporting the project did not have "a single claim in" (ENR 4/15 p. 21).

Condon-Johnson & Associates Inc., of Oakland, Calif., filed a lawsuit against the design-build team led by Tutor-Saliba Corp. in Los Angeles District Court in excess of $15 million. Blecher & Collins, a Los Angeles law firm, filed the suit on Nov. 1, 2001. The lawsuit alleges that the Tutor-Saliba team, as the design-build contractor for the 10.5-mile Alameda Corridor Trench, designed and supplied concrete that did not meet the project specifications. The non-spec concrete was used for the structural cast-in-hole shafts that support the trench walls. [It charges] Tutor-Saliba directed repairs to the piles, withheld contract revenue and then refused to pay Condon-Johnson for its full contract work or for any repairs it made to the damaged pile.

On May 1, lawyers met in court for the second hearing of the defendant's demurrer and motion to strike certain causes of action. The court announced its tentative ruling at the commencement of the hearing. It overruled the Tutor-Saliba team demurrer and allowed the quantum meruit, negligence and the unfair business practice cause of action to remain in the Condon-Johnson lawsuit. Trial has been set for February 2003.

Blecher & Collins
Los Angeles