Seeing Yellow


Johann F. Szautner, PE, Civil Engineer ::::
We all know the meaning of “seeing red”, often associated with a state of heightened emotion when the blood pressure rises, and we become angry; like the bull when the matador teases him with a red cape to charge to his demise. However, if you are in anyway involved with analyzing personal injury accidents happening on roadways, on the grounds of facilities, institutions, or shopping centers, then you may get irritated by seeing yellow, the universal color of caution warnings, because of its counterproductive overuse negating its effect in situations where such warning is warranted.
Case synopsis: On a sunny summer day, the plaintiff, a shopper at a local supermarket, walked towards the store’s entrance. Access is by means of a ramp leading from the parking lot pavement to the sidewalk and front doors. The ramp configuration facilitates easy ingress and egress with shopping carts, and for people with disabilities (ADA). The ramp has a generous width of 16 feet between the flared end sections. Nevertheless, this shopper decided to step up on the sidewalk over the sloped curb section at the end of the ramp, but did not lift the right foot sufficiently, and tripped over the curb, landing on the concrete sidewalk, and sustaining multiple injuries. The complaint alleged that the shopper did not see the height of the curb, because it was not painted yellow. Continue reading “Seeing Yellow”

Construction Disputes-Providing Proper Construction Cost Analysis

construction code expert witness

David A. Doddridge, Building Code and Construction Consultant ::::
Construction projects can offer many opportunities to unscrupulous contractors. Often, a contractor will “front load” the payment schedule within the contract to ensure that he stays financially ahead of their client. Known as “change order artists”, some contractors will also capitalize on change orders by overinflating the costs associated with each change. This, among other things, can cause the relationship between the contractor and the homeowner to deteriorate.
When a contractor is taking too long, making promises he cannot keep, charging excessive amounts for simple changes to the contract, or demanding payment in exchange for “showing up”, the relationship between the contractor and the homeowner often deteriorates to the point where the contractor will simply abandon the project. At this point, if the contractor front-loaded the payment schedule, the contractor will walk away with an amount that far exceeds the value of the work-in-place provided, and the homeowner is faced with the task of either finishing the project themselves or hiring another contractor to take over. Either of these scenarios can present unique challenges, both from a cost standpoint and a time standpoint.
If the dispute ends up in litigation, even more time and expenses will be incurred, not only by the homeowner but by the contractor as well. The attorney hired by the homeowner will typically engage an expert witness to evaluate the case. An expert witnesses’ job would then be to document the condition of the project before any additional work is performed to preserve and document the scene. The expert will then perform a forensic construction cost analysis to determine the value of the work performed by the contractor. In doing so, it is important that the expert utilize published, recognized and reliable construction cost resources so as not to jeopardize the expert’s impartiality. By using such construction cost resources, such as the R.S. Means Construction Cost Guides, the expert cannot be accused of skewing their opinion of costs in favor of their client and can avoid a potential Daubert Motion filing by the opposing counsel.
Further, the engaged expert may often determine the cost-to-cure any defective workmanship performed by the original contractor. These costs are then used by counsel to help determine the amount of the claim.
David A. Doddridge is a Building Code and Construction Consultant with DJS Associates and can be reached via email at or via phone at 215-659-2010.