Litigation Support

Litigation Support Services Construction projects may be built with bricks & mortar, but they are also built on information. Understanding the mountains of that information required to produce a construction project, and then converting that data into the relevant information necessary to analyze a construction claim, is the essence of litigation support. The principals at Norton & Schmidt possess an excellent understanding of the entire development, design and construction process, as well as the parameters of the legal arena.

Identifying the initiating cause of a construction claim, with its own ripple effects, then differentiating it from other unrelated but concurrent events, is not always obvious. That cause may just as easily be something which didn’t happen, but should have. Information which becomes available after the fact may not have been available to the effected parties at the time a critical decision was made. The question then becomes: should that information have been available at the time? It’s often not just a question of whether information was technically correct, but when and to whom the information was available, and what information was needed for proper coordination and sound decision making.

As most of the senior Norton & Schmidt principals have spent over 30 years in the design and construction business, we are able to quickly determine both the formal and informal information flow on a project and then to efficiently:

• Identify the type of information required for analysis of a claim;

• Who was responsible for generating and distributing the information to all who needed it;

• In what form(s) the information is likely to be found;

• Assist attorneys in understanding technical construction issues which gave rise to the claim;

• Prepare exhibits for trial which effectively communicate, in lay terms, the content and importance of the technical construction information.

We go directly to the source that is most likely to yield pertinent facts, be it construction drawings and specifications, daily reports from the contractor’s superintendent, field reports from the design team, special inspectors or testing agencies, municipal inspection agencies, contractor payment applications, change requests, etc. in order to get to the heart of the issue as quickly as possible.

N&S personnel have provided litigation support services on wide ranging projects, including:

• a 536 unit condominium project in Milwaukee;

• investigation of the 1980 Las Vegas MGM Grand Hotel fire;

• the construction of the Louisiana Superdome;

• a southern Illinois high school experiencing extreme settlement, as it was built on land over deep coal mining operations from the 1930’s;

• countless smaller and individual claims arising from such causes as incomplete or vague plans and specifications, construction defects (including moisture intrusion/mold), unforeseen conditions, and construction delays. The above diversity of cases underscores our ability to understand the overall process and apply that knowledge to effectively assist attorneys in the resolution of virtually any construction dispute.

Expert Witness Services

We at Norton & Schmidt Engineers are experienced working with the legal profession providing investigation, design, estimating and expert witnessing. We have acted as appraisers and umpires in the insurance appraisal process and acted as a professional engineering expert witness in arbitrations, depositions and civil trials.

Circumstances surrounding some of our customer projects require dispute resolution and legal consul. Whether this is related to a project we are already involved with or is a new project, we are experienced and available in supporting our customers chosen legal consul.

Appraisal Process

An appraisal is a process by which the insurance company and homeowner settle a dispute over damages. This is a means for resolving an insurance claim without resorting to legal action. Each person will appoint his or her own appraiser (a person who is experienced with the nature of the problem) to meet and discuss the problem and try to dissolve the matter. Upon beginning the process the two appraisers must agree on a qualified umpire with experience regarding these types of issues. If the two appraisers cannot come to an agreement the umpire can be called into the process. The agreed upon umpire will review the matter and make a decision on which appraiser’s position, estimate and evaluation are most accurate.

Norton & Schmidt Consulting Engineers has acted as both appraiser and umpire.

For more information, contact Rod Sommer, P.E. or Larry Fehner, P.E..