Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Court of Appeals Upholds Judgment against Austin Architect

In July 2004, two women in Texas stepped out onto the balcony of a private home and quickly plummeted to the ground as the structure collapsed beneath their feet. One of the victims, Lou Ann Smith, sustained injuries that left her paralyzed from the waist down. The question then became, who is responsible for the pain and suffering inflicted on Ms. Smith and how will compensation be made?

Last year, jurors in a Travis County courtroom split the liability between three groups of people--the general contractor, the subcontractor, and the architectural firm that has been hired to design the balcony. Austin architect Sinclair Black and his firm, Black + Vernooy, were blamed with ten percent of the balcony's collapse and ordered to pay Ms. Smith accordingly.

Black appealed the decision, claiming that his agreement with the client only required that he report any defects or deficiencies, not search for these potential problems himself. In addition, he asserted his obligation was only to the homeowners and not to those who visited the property. In a two-to-one decision, the 3rd Court of Appeals upheld the roughly $410,000 judgment against Sinclair Black and others in the architectural industry are already speaking out about what they believe to be a dangerous precedent made by this decision.

Is the court going too far in holding professionals accountable for problems that were caused by another party? Or, did the architect have a responsibility to more closely examine the work being created from his designs?

We know that as you develop your career, your professional reputation is essential. What clients, peers, and leaders in your field have to say about work is critical to your success. If you are facing a legal issue that threatens the good name your business has established, the business attorneys at Bertolino LLP can help. Please contact our Austin, Houston, or San Antonio office today.

1 comment:

Mario Lovo abogado said...

The responsible of this problem must be identify immediately so that they must pay the damages that was done to Lou Ann Smith.