Dean Isaacson – Expert Witness for Construction Forensics

Expert Witness was one of the services I performed before moving from Seattle to Idaho. It is something I enjoyed very much because it involved two of my favorite occupations – analyzing and writing. The time required establishing my construction enterprise prevented me from pursuing this line of work in Idaho, until now. Below is a summary of aged, previous cases to give you an example of the work I do. If I can help you, please give me a call at 208-699-6877.

SUMMARIES OF SELECTED CASES

Russell v Tate
for Tamara Clower, Law Offices of John Francis Kennedy, Gig Harbor, WA.
August 1999

Thirteen years prior, Tate had installed a fence on the mutual property line and damaged the sewer line in three locations. Over time, the damage to the foundation and soils of the Russell home became obvious. In Russell’s clumsy attempt to repair the sewer, he removed the fence and damaged the Tate driveway. Tate, using the numbers from an expert witness, sued for damages in excess of twenty thousand dollars.

We were called in to confirm or refute the actual replacement costs to repair the damage to the Tate property and evaluate the damage to the Russell home. Our report documented a reasonable cost to repair the damage to the Tate property to be less than seven thousand dollars, including the installation of a retaining wall that did not exist before but somehow became important to this case. We also documented damages to the Russell property to be in excess of fifty thousand dollars.

The expert witness hired by Tate produced an estimate that was difficult to understand if the reader was not familiar with construction estimating techniques and languages. It was rife with overlaps and duplications. Our estimations and refutations were clearly laid out so that a person could understand what we were arguing and how we arrived at our costs, even if they had never been involved in a construction project before.

Despite the fact that Russell was a difficult client to deal with and kept trying to hide from the case, it eventually settled in his favor. The case settled after our report but prior to deposition, which was scheduled. Our report was five pages. We billed for nine hours.

Lombardi v Clausen
for Jeffrey Herman, Law Offices of Maltman, Reed, North, Ahrens & Malnati, Seattle, WA
June 1999

Lombardi purchased a home from Clausen in an exclusive, yet older, area adjacent to Bellevue, Washington. The home was infested with molds, mildew and bugs. This infestation was in the attic, several walls and the crawl space. The house was inspected prior to closing but none of the damage was reported to the purchaser.

Our job was to document the damage. Not only were we able to do that but we found key evidence that demonstrated prior knowledge of the damages on the part of the seller.

The client was able to work out a satisfactory settlement with the seller’s insurance company. Our report was seven pages. We billed twenty hours.

Malone v Arne’s Construction Enterprises Inc.
for Frederic Reed, Law Offices of Maltman, Reed, North, Ahrens & Malnati, Seattle, WA
March 1999

This was a cost-plus remodel gone real bad. It began with a twenty-five percent down payment and the project was well over budget with less than seventy percent completion. Our job was to assess the reasonableness of the charges.

Of the one-hundred forty thousand paid to the company, less than half had been expended for materials and labor at this point. Of the invoices submitted by the construction company to document their costs, we found many items that did not apply to the client’s project and duplicate billings. Billings for carpenter pencils, hammers, gloves, saw blades and other such items that contractors provide for the job as part of their labor and overhead exceeded six thousand dollars.

Armed with our report, the attorney for Malone was able to work out a settlement without filing a lawsuit. However, I don’t think the settlement was fully in Malone’s favor as the company was on the verge of bankruptcy. Our report was three pages. We billed for seven hours.

Professional Coatings Inc, v Duwamish Manor Assoc.
for Professional Coatings, Inc
September 1998

According to the lease agreement, the landlord, Duwamish Manor Assoc., was responsible for structural and exterior maintenance. However, the landlord advised the tenant, Professional Coatings, they were responsible for the replacement of the roof.

We were hired to give an assessment of the roofing and the roof structure. We demonstrated how the hot tar roof had not been damaged by the tenant and actually was five years older than its projected lifespan. Our report included other details that were critical to the negotiation between the landlord and tenant.

Our report helped the landlord and tenant come to a reasonable settlement in favor of the tenant. Our report was five pages. We billed four and one-half hours.

Lesley v Wiley
for Jeffrey Herman, Law Offices of Maltman, Reed, North, Ahrens & Malnati, Seattle, WA
May 1998

Lesley purchased a waterfront home from Wiley, in Belfair, Washington. The entire floor system was bug infested and rotted. Our job was to assess the damages and estimate the cost to repair.

We spelled out the extent of the damages and explained how we arrived at each cost. We calculated the damages to be sixty-six thousand dollars including contractor profit and overhead. Armed with our report, the client was able to settle just prior to deposition for sixty thousand dollars. Our report was seven pages. We billed twenty four hours.

Wong v Hyskell
for Jeffrey Herman, Law Offices of Maltman, Reed, North, Ahrens & Malnati, Seattle, WA
October 1997

Almost twenty years earlier Wong had entered into an agreement with Hyskell to invest in a home on Ames Lake, remodel it and sell it for a profit. Wong would finance the project and Hyskell would be the contractor. The project never completed and Hyskell lived in the home rent-free all those years.

The Wongs negotiated with Hyskell on several occasions to complete the project and/or move out. He intimidated them and they backed down. Now the Wongs were adamant, they wanted to sell the property and recover their investment. They offered to split the net proceeds but he wanted more.

Our job was to review all project receipts and assess the work completed on the project residence. We were able to successfully reconstruct the project on paper. Via site review and using Hyskell’s journal, we were able to successfully determine which receipts went into the joint venture project and how much of Wong’s money was used on other projects.

The case went to court. When my name was called to take the stand, as I entered the room, Hyskell’s attorney rose to his feet and approached the bench. The case was at that point settled entirely in our client’s favor. We went to lunch and I asked Jeffrey Herman, attorney for Wong, “what about the statute of limitations?” I had been afraid to breath the phrase all during the case. Jeffrey affirmed, too, that he was afraid to speak it but he had expected it to come up and the Wongs would have lost summarily. But Hyskell’s attorney never brought it up. So, indeed, the Wongs won their case on moral ground and justice was not usurped by procedure.

Our report was thirty-nine pages. We billed sixty-one hours.

About the author: Dean Isaacson

General contractor since 1975 (currently with Idaho Contractor). Previously held Certified Safety Administrator status from the National Association of Safety Professionals. Expert witness and forensics in construction related cases. Will help you with project management and marketing. We do cold calls and trade shows.

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