VERTEX’s forensics team was called on by Kevin Cauley, Partner, Schwartz Semerdjian Cauley & Moot, LLP, who has been representing clients in construction law and defect cases for more than 20 years.
Most recently, Cauley and associate Kristen Bush brought in Ted Bumgardner for a federal court case that involved breach of contract and delay claims for a federal project at the U.S. Army base in Monterey, CA.
Cauley’s firm was retained by the plumbing subcontractor for the project, who was suing the general contractor and surety bond firm, claiming they had not been paid in full. The general contractor contended that Cauley’s client had breached their contract, did not complete the work and that they had to make repairs to defective work. The general contractor filed their own delay damage claim against the plumbing contractor, seeking $2.5 million in damages.
Bumgardner was brought in as an expert witness to counter the general contractor’s delay claim.
“The challenge for any case of this nature is how to communicate effectively with the jury,” said Cauley. “We had very dry material, talking about scheduling and the plumbing aspects of the project, in order to determine whether the plumbing contractor was responsible for all of the delay or if the general contractor brought the delay on itself.”
Fortunately for the client, breaking down highly technical data and presenting it to a jury as simple common sense is Bumgardner’s specialty. He was able to take the material, which included a lot of trade terminology, hard-to-understand graphs, and complex schedules, and translate it into something that was clear and understandable for the jury.
“This case had plenty of fireworks,” said Bumgardner. “The general contractor’s delay expert opined that the plumbing contractor was responsible for 120 days of delay, while it was my opinion that other issues, unrelated to plumbing, were in fact the cause of the delay.”
Those in the industry know that many claims settle before reaching the trial stage, in large part due to legal strategies and negotiation tactics by the attorneys on behalf of the parties. In the lead up to the trial, the opposing counsel tried a “Hail-Mary” strategy.
“Opposing counsel made a motion to exclude my testimony, which doesn’t happen often to experts,” said Bumgardner. “It was denied, and so the case went to trial. In the end, the jury agreed with my analysis and ruled in the plumbing contractor’s favor. I congratulate Kevin on this favorable verdict for his client.”
“Ted’s testimony and presentation graphics were very effective in helping the jury make their decision,” said Cauley. “As a result, the general contractor received zero from the jury for their delay claim, which represented the majority of the $2.5 million claim. We were very pleased with the successful outcome for our client.”
This article was originally published by Xpera Group which is now part of The Vertex Companies, Inc.