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The Daily Transcript San Diego’s Business Daily Monday, April 27, 2009 / Vol. 124, No. 83 ¬

Close-up: Steve Schraibman

Consultant uses broad expertise to assist in construction law cases By MONICA UNHOLD The Daily Transcript

The opportunity to solve complex problems is what Steve Schraibman of Arcor Inc. Consulting loves about serving as an expert in construction lawsuits. As a registered architect, licensed contractor and certified estimator, Schraibman comes at construction law from a variety of angles. He is one of only a handful of people in the country to hold all three construction industry-related degrees. His intimate knowledge of the industry allows him to better determine fault in defect and insurance cases. “I’ve laid tile; I’ve poured concrete; I understand what goes into making something,” Schraibman said. Prior to moving to Southern California from his native South Africa, Schraibman pursued a career as an architect. He served as chief architect on the Workman’s Rehabilitation Hospital in Milpark, South Africa. Prior to completing his training as an architect, Schraibman flew T-6A Texan jets in the South African military. He is also an avid swimmer and once trained to go to the Olympic Games. It was the American Dream that brought Schraibman and his wife to the United States in 1994, he said. Schraibman wanted his children to have the

opportunities that America could provide, he said. “Any country where someone can market the pet rock is a great one,” Schraibman said. After working for several different contractors in Southern California, including his most recent post as a project manager at Gafcon Inc., Schraibman decide to strike out on his own in 2003 to assist in construction law cases. He serves in a variety of capacities on cases, working with attorneys to help determine fault and the cost of fixing a defect, or coordinating the other expert witnesses. He works in such areas as construction defects, code violations and workers’ compensation. “I think of myself as a musician in an orchestra,” Schraibman said. “The attorney is the conductor. Sometimes I’m part of a chorus, other times it’s a solo act.” His career gives Schraibman a look into the trends in construction litigation. Lately he has seen a swell in numbers of disputes due to funding being stopped temporarily or permanently in the middle of projects. Such situations have become more common due to the recession, he said. In the public sector, contractors may seek recourse by filing insurance bond claims. In the private sector, contractors can lien the property for the amount owed but may struggle to secure

timely payment. In addition to funding issues, Schraibman expects to see an increase in litigation stemming from the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The legislation mandates that all businesses must be handicapped accessible; however, accessibility can often span as far away as the nearest bus stop and include walkways leading to the entrance of the building. The inclusion of such elements has made city governments and property owners, not previously subject to the legislation, vulnerable to litigation. While ADA legislation is becoming an increasingly litigious matter, lawsuit participants are somewhat limited. In order to sue for accessibility, a person must have suffered resulting discrimination, Schraibman said. “You cannot sue for ADA unless you are disabled,” he said. However, anyone can sue for storm water mitigation, he added. Storm water mitigation is another area in which Schraibman forsees a pending deluge of legal action. The Clean Water Act and Water Quality Control Act mandate that no navigable U.S. waterway be polluted. Yet the regulations extend to any body of water that eventually runs into a navigable waterway, including small lakes, creeks and even storm drains.

Photo: J. Kat Woronowicz

Steve Schraibman, a legal consultant in the construction industry, works with attorneys in a variety of capacities in such areas as construction defects, code violations and workers’ compensa tion. Under the regulations, city governments are responsible for issuing huge fines to those in violation. If they do not assess fines, city governments become accomplices under the law, Schraibman said. Under the legislation, city governments must also report their own violations and be consequently fined by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Schraibman also sees the potential for an increase in

construction defect lawsuits resulting from substandard building materials. Florida courts have seen an abundance of lawsuits stemming from a substandard drywall product manufactured in China. Within a short period of time, the material corroded pipes and electrical wiring present in the walls of new homes, Schraibman said. As a construction expert, such cases present opportuni-

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ties for Schraibman to use his experience to determine the cause, and ultimately the cost, of such defects. He enjoys utilizing his various degrees and work experience to get to the bottom of a problem. “I always loved understanding how things worked,” Schraibman said. “And it’s really rewarding to use that to solve other people’s problems.” Source Code: 20090427crad

ADA Expert:Steven Schraibman  

Steve Schraibman, an expert in ADA compliance and construction defect litigation believes Construction Risk Profiling™ should take place as...