SPRING 2020 TODAY’S GENER AL COUNSEL
Liability for Catastrophic Construction Failures PHOTO: WIKIMEDIA
By Robert C. Epstein and Jacqueline Greenberg Vogt
ecent catastrophic construction failures have stunned the nation and the world. In April 2019, a construction crane on a Seattle office building construction project collapsed, killing four people and injuring four others. Three companies were fined for their roles in the collapse, and the Seattle Police opened a criminal investigation. About a year earlier, a pedestrian bridge at Florida International University collapsed, killing six people. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) found that “load and capacity calculation errors” were the fundamental cause of the tragedy. In June 2017, a fire engulfed a high-rise apartment building in London, killing 72 people. Officials found that the external walls of the tower violated building code fire-resistance requirements and helped the fire spread.