To the Editor:

The article “Walsh-Granite Lawsuit Against HDR Cited Standard of Care and Quantities” by Richard Korman contains false and misleading statements regarding me and my firm, O’Connell & Lawrence Inc.

At issue are the last four paragraphs, where Mr. Korman generally discusses the expert witnesses in the Walsh-Granite lawsuit against HDR related to the Pennsylvania Rapid Bridge Replacement Project and each party’s motions to exclude the other’s experts. In the last two paragraphs, Mr. Korman discusses me in particular—and by name—and then attempts to inform readers about the outcome of HDR’s objections to my testimony and motion to exclude my testimony.

Most concerning is the final paragraph, where Mr. Korman begins by stating, “In support of its argument that O’Connell was not qualified, HDR noted that in his work experience he had never performed preliminary design services in the pursuit phase similar to those HDR had performed to win the project. The contractors argued that an expert’s qualifications do not need to be ‘identical,’ as long as there is ‘relevant education or experience.’”

First, the special master only made recommendations to the court and did not itself issue rulings. To my knowledge, the court never ruled on the special master’s recommendations.

Second, failing to report that the special master actually ruled against HDR on all of its nine objections regarding my qualifications/experience and refused to preclude any of my testimony based on my qualifications and experience, Mr. Korman erroneously continues, “The special master eventually ruled that O’Connell’s testimony had to be excluded related to his qualifications for assessing one out of every five of the many billable hours involved.”

In fact, the special master did not exclude any of my testimony related to my qualifications and experience and recommended acceptance of my expert testimony on 13 of the 14 other HDR objections. The one instance where the special master recommended to exclude testimony had nothing to do with my qualifications or experience. Mr. Korman’s description of the motion to exclude and the special master’s detailed recommendations are, at best, misleading to readers unfamiliar with the litigation. The statement that my testimony was excluded based on my qualifications is patently incorrect, and even the most cursory reading of the report reveals the author’s error. I note that no one from ENR contacted me prior to publication, at which time I could have prevented the error.

Kenneth J. O’Connell, Ph.D., P.E.
O’Connell & Lawrence Inc.
Olney, Maryland