A storm sewer construction project through an upper middle class river front neighborhood in Jacksonville , Florida required the excavation of trenches. The stability of the trench walls was achieved with temporary sheet piles, installed using vibratory methods.
The level site is located adjacent to the St. Johns River . The site was developed with a Spanish (Stucco) residence with a separate garage, a swimming pool with three to five foot high concrete retaining walls, and a river side anchored bulkhead.
The home owner filed an insurance claim alleging that the vibrations during the installation of the sheet piles had caused damage to the anchored bulkhead, the retaining wall, and various cracks on the stucco exterior and interior floors and walls of the residence and detached garage.
The residence and detached garage were located between 100 and 150 feet from the sewer line, and the other structures which were included in the claim were 200 feet (pool) to 250 feet (bulkhead) away. Vibration monitoring of the sheet pile installation procedures demonstrated that the vibratory hammer induced ground motions dissipate within a distance of 50 feet of the sheet piling. These ground motions could not have caused the alleged damages. In fact, inspections of the damages concluded that the bulkhead damage was caused by long term corrosion of the tie backs; the pool area retaining wall cracks were caused by the growth of adjacent palm trees, and the cracks on and within the structure predated the construction as evidenced by the accumulation of several layers of paint and wax within the cracks.
The construction company and their insurer were relieved of all responsibility by the court following the not guilty jury verdict.
The Attorney Client
For the Construction Company's Insurer:
John E. Houser, Attorney At Law
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STOKLEY-CHEEKS AND ASSOCIATES, INC
Copyright 2004 Richard Cheeks