Architects and Engineers
Louisiana Architect and Engineer Liability Defense Law Firm
Our lawyers combine in-house engineering credentials with years of litigation experience to help resolve complex malpractice claims against architects, engineers and land surveyors. Keogh Cox is approved litigation panel counsel for many insurers serving design professionals and has a proven track record in this area of law. We conduct a thorough, detailed analysis of the technical and legal issues to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the case early in the litigation. Clients value our technical knowledge and the importance we place on early planning and confident execution of a well-communicated resolution strategy. We are focused on resolving the claim as quickly as possible, and have had many claims dismissed on summary judgment. We speak our clients’ language, know their technical issues and business concerns, and understand how to effectively strike at the heart of a claim. We have experience handling large, multi-party cases involving design and construction defects, construction delays and other significant malpractice claims. Our lawyers have the courtroom skills, analytical depth, ability to strategically manage experts, and willingness to go to trial to present our client’s case clearly and effectively.
Recent Experience Highlights
Client Story: Early Summary Judgment for Civil Site Engineer
Where we started: Our client was an engineering firm that designed the civil site work for a new commercial development and was sued by the owner for failure of the new wastewater plant installed as part of the site work. Our roadmap: Our analysis focused on the engineer’s limited scope of work associated with the plant. Resolution: We obtained summary judgment early in the litigation eliminating the need for costly discovery.
Client Story: Summary Judgment for Mechanical Engineer in Multi-party Suit
Where we started: We represented a mechanical engineering firm brought into a multi-party lawsuit initiated by the general contractor on a project to construct a new education facility seeking significant construction delay damages. The suit involved cross-claims among the owner, architect, subcontractors and the architect’s consultants. Our roadmap: While the suit included some claims related to the mechanical work, the majority of the claims involved site work for which our client had no involvement. Resolution: After the plaintiff contractor rejected a reasonable settlement offer, we obtained a summary judgment dismissal based on the plaintiff’s insufficient support for the claims against the mechanical engineer.
Client Story: Favorable Settlement of Misrepresentation Claim in Complex Dispute Involving Bankruptcy
Where we started: Our client – a civil engineering firm – designed the site improvements for a new residential subdivision. The owner of the development exhausted the construction funds and went into bankruptcy during the project. The lender sued the engineer claiming misrepresentation of the true construction costs, and sought to recover millions of dollars lost when the owner defaulted on the loans, based on the engineer’s certification of the contractor pay applications. Resolution was complicated by several factors, including that the lender went into receivership, and the construction loans and associated claims were purchased by another financial institution. Our strategy included a challenge to the substituted claimant’s right of action to recover from the engineer. Resolution: We obtained a favorable settlement for a fraction of the lender’s losses.
Client Story: Successful Outcome for Engineer – Design Defect Claim Dismissed and Recovery of Unpaid Fees
Where we started: A national civil engineering firm provided site engineering services on a large mixed-use development in Baton Rouge. The firm stopped work because the developer failed to pay in full for its services. To counteract the engineer’s demand for unpaid services, the owner sued for $5 million, claiming design deficiencies. Our roadmap: We countersued for payment and filed a lien under the Private Works Act to protect the engineer’s rights. Virtually all consultants and contractors working on the development were entangled in litigation and payment disputes as the developer went into bankruptcy. Resolution: We obtained a summary judgment dismissing the $5 million lawsuit based on lack of expert evidence and obtained payment for our client’s services under a bond that had unknowingly been posted to cancel the lien before the developer’s financial troubles began.
Client Story: Liability Claim against an Engineer Dismissed on Pre-Trial Motion
Where we started: Our client, a civil engineering firm, served as the parish engineer to review plans submitted for new developments. The engineer was sued by a developer that had gone into bankruptcy, but retained the right to assert claims related to construction defects in the site drainage system. The developer claimed that the parish engineer was liable for the construction deficiencies because it had conducted site observations throughout the construction project. Our roadmap: Our strategy incorporated bankruptcy law defenses and investigation of the developer’s bankruptcy proceeding in Illinois. We sought to enforce, in Louisiana state court, provisions in the bankruptcy plan of reorganization obtained in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Illinois. Resolution: We obtained dismissal of the suit early in the litigation, which was upheld on appeal: R.J. Daigle & Sons Contractors, Inc., v. Spatz Homes, LLC, 2014-0615 (La.App. 1 Cir. 11/7/14).
Client Story: Favorable Settlement for Architect in Gross Negligence Claim
Where we started: We represented an architectural firm sued by a parish hospital, claiming gross negligence in the design of renovation work to avoid an otherwise valid limit of liability provision in its contract. The hospital and its expert asserted that the new window system installed throughout the facility leaked because of design deficiencies and that the installation violated the building code and required replacement at a significant cost. Our roadmap: Our strategy was to file pre-trial motions to (1) enforce the limit of liability provision in the architect’s contract as to all claims except gross negligence, (2) establish that the prescription period for a gross negligence claim is one year, and (3) dismiss the gross negligence claim because it was not filed timely. Resolution: Once we achieved the first two goals of our defense strategy, our client obtained a favorable settlement to avoid liability exposure at trial for the significant remediation costs.
Client Story: Dismissal of Design Defect Claims against an Architect
Where we started: A steel subcontractor sued our client, the architect who provided design services for a new planetarium that included a complex structural design, along with the owner and general contractor, alleging that design defects caused substantial extra fabrication costs. The owner also filed an indemnity claim against the architect. Our roadmap: We challenged in court the subcontractor’s initial tort suit as untimely, and the owner’s indemnity claim as procedurally improper and untimely under Louisiana’s 5-year peremption statute. Resolution: We had all claims dismissed; and the decision was upheld on appeal: Boes Iron Works, Inc., v. M.D. Descant, Inc., 2014-0270 (La.App. 1 Cir. 9/19/14) 154 So. 3d 555.
Client Story: Summary Judgment for Civil Engineer on Drainage Design
Where we started: A civil engineering firm that designed the drainage system for a commercial development was sued by a restaurant chain owner that purchased one of the lots because of flooding that occurred on its lot, seeking recovery of substantial costs to add fill to the lot for construction. The owner based its claim on alleged misrepresentations by the engineer and developer that the lot would drain to a detention pond. Our roadmap: Our plan was to establish during discovery that the engineer’s role was limited to designing the drainage system for fully developed lots, and the owner was responsible for pre-construction conditions, and that information provided by the engineer regarding the drainage design was accurate, thus plaintiff could not establish facts to support a negligence or misrepresentation claim. Resolution: After fact and expert discovery, the court granted summary judgment and dismissed all claims against the engineer.
More Details about Architect and Engineer Liability Defense
For years, the lawyers of Keogh Cox – including one attorney who is also a Professional Engineer – have represented individual architects, engineers and land surveyors and their firms against complex, high-stakes design and construction claims in every part of Louisiana. We plan and conduct the strongest possible defense and keep the process moving forward, whether at trial, on appeal, in mediation or arbitration, or before the state licensing boards. We have a broad range of experience, including:
- Professional liability defense of architects, engineers and land surveyors
- Errors and omissions claims
- Surveying errors
- Defective design and construction claims
- Delay and acceleration claims by contractors and owners
- Breach of contract and negligence claims
- Failure to comply with building codes, ADA claims
- Negligent claims by third parties, to include personal injury and property damage
- Negligence in contract administration or building commissioning
- Personal injury claims arising from design or construction defects
- Pre-claim assistance to minimize risk of litigation
- Professional licensure issues before Louisiana professional licensing boards, including the State Board of Professional Engineering and Land Surveying Board
In addition to our litigation work, our lawyers are frequently invited to conduct educational seminars on the most important issues affecting the design and construction industry.