Gordon & Rees Partner Jim Robinson Obtains Complete Defense Verdict in Construction Arbitration

September 2023

Philadelphia Partner Jim Robinson obtained a complete defense verdict in a multiparty construction arbitration on behalf of the firm's client, an architect and member of the design-build team.

The case arose from claims of defects in the construction and renovation of a large warehouse. The plaintiff claimed that the alleged defects in the warehouse led to catastrophic injuries to a forklift operator when he collided with a building support column, crushing his leg and leading to a knee disarticulation amputation.

As the case approached trial, the various defendants agreed to settle with the plaintiff and submit their claims against each other to arbitration for allocation of the $3 million in settlement funds. At arbitration, the warehouse owner argued for all liability to be placed on the architect and the other design-build team members because the final warehouse design included building support columns in the aisles where they were vulnerable to being struck by material handling equipment. The warehouse owner claimed it was blameless for the accident. 

In response, the Gordon & Rees team displayed that the final design not only complied with the owner’s construction guidelines and conceptual drawings but also that the owner’s representative knew about the columns and specifically approved the subject design at the final design coordination meeting. The arbitrator placed 100 percent liability on the owner and issued a decision relieving the firm's client of any responsibility.