In Too Deep

by Robert A. Rubin, (F.ASCE), Partner; Postner & Rubin, New York, NY,
Jeannette L. Molina, Law Student; Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1992, Vol. 62, Issue 12, Pg. 67-69

Document Type: Feature article


Urban excavation is fraught with risks and potential liability for engineers and contractors. Environmental issues (such as Superfund regulations and environmental impact statements), federal, state and local laws, and simple trespassing statutes, must all be reviewed for their effect on a particular project before the first shovelful of dirt is removed. Indeed, urban excavation in the past has exposed firms to legal action from utility companies, neighboring property owners and businesses. This article identifies nine different scenarios that can cause legal problems on an urban excavation project. Accompanying court cases are presented for each of the nine trouble spots, illustrating why some firms were held liable for excavation work and how others insulated themselves from legal action.

Subject Headings: Excavation | Urban areas | Environmental issues | Risk management | Liability | Contractors and subcontractors | Federal government | Laws

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