There’s no simple definition of what constitutes a forensic construction or engineering investigation. Yet, they all have one thing in common: A forensic investigation must be thoroughly defensible and accurate.
Steven P. Viani has performed many forensic investigations for wastewater treatment plants, schools, commercial buildings and houses for water intrusion damage, expansive soils, presence of mold and construction defects – and not all have involved the legal system. Some forensic investigations have involved accidents or failure to follow proper protocols. Other forensic investigations have focused on accident reconstructions, equipment failures and detailed reviews to determine the cause or candidate causes. Steve brings a deep level of experience to a wide range of forensic investigations.
Accident Reconstruction and Accident Investigation Cases:
- Provided expert services for a fatal accident involving improperly secured construction equipment on a construction site in Northern California.
- Provided expert services, including accident reconstruction of a major fall injury case involving truck loading at an active wastewater treatment facility in the San Francisco area.
- Provided determination and expert witness services for accident involving multi-party commercial construction site in Auburn, California, involving rolling scaffolding.
- Investigation of drug cause and origin of drug house fire where residence was used to make hash oil in Mendocino County.
- Provided investigation and expert testimony regarding technical issues for a mirror that fell off a wall and injured a patron of a hotel in Los Angeles.
- Provided technical investigation for an insurance claim involving an untrained employee who fell through an unprotected skylight near Redding, California.
Standard of Care Cases:
- Steve evaluated $1 million claim by contractor against City of Santa Barbara and engineer regarding defective and deficient contract documents, as well as standard of care of engineer for a tertiary wastewater treatment plant expansion.
- Evaluated the design by an engineer for a glass stair rail system for a dwelling in Oakland.
- Evaluated the design of structural footings that did not penetrate into native soil with the resulting residence experiencing movement and damage in the Sierra Foothills.
- For a case near Pescadero, California, Steve investigated the failure of an engineering firm to determine the location of a flood zone and a failure to design the drainage system for flood conditions.
Construction Defect Cases:
- Provided expert review of improperly designed 6,000-square-foot residence where design contributed to excessive movement causing damage to structure.
- Provided determination and expert review for $25 million construction defect case regarding structural failure at a glass melting facility in Modesto, California.
Errors and Omissions cases:
- Provided engineering review of plans and specification prepared for a building in the Southern San Joaquin Valley where drawings were incorrectly produced that did not meet Code requirements.
- Provided engineering review of grading plan prepared for a subdivision in the southern San Joaquin Valley. The drawings were incorrectly produced and did not meet Code requirements, cost the client extra, and failed to address comments from plan checker. Some of the errors and omissions were deemed to be negligence.
Forensic Engineering and Construction Cases:
- Provided expert determination and review of shoring/scaffolding failure at mid-rise residential/commercial building in San Francisco that was overloaded.
- Evaluated understrength pre-cast concrete piles delivered and driven at wastewater treatment plant in San Francisco. Scope evolved into review of concrete strength with coring, testing and removal throughout facility.
- Determined cause and scope of remedial measures for condo building in Sacramento affected by water intrusion through roofs, walls and walkways that resulted in mold and structural damage.
- Performed cost to complete and termination for default owner against contractor constructing a fast food restaurant in Northern California.
- Performed forensic review of enforcement actions against engineers to determine if they were negligent or committed errors and omissions in the course of work identified in a complaint for Board of Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors and Geologists.
- Performed a forensic analysis of engineering and construction of a jet grouting project in Los Angeles where the design failed to include bench scale formulation and testing and the final result did not achieve project objectives. Case settled after deposition.
Steve was retained to provide expert opinions regarding a construction defect case against our client on a $1.7 million custom home. He quickly realized our client was not involved during the time period defective construction was performed and only during a short period after the earthwork, foundation and structural work were performed. Steve reviewed the depositions and advised us this was correct and gave us responses we used during negotiations to settle this matter with a de minimis payment by our client. We intend to use him again.