October 11

Excavation Lawsuit: Third Party Property Damage

A couple living on Lee Cardwell Circle has reached a settlement with Blalock Construction and the owner of adjacent property over excavations the couple said essentially dug away the foundation of their home.

Richard and Cindy Yake sued their neighbor, Teddy Jones, along with Blalock over the removal of earth from Jones’ property, which left a near vertical incline alongside their property with no retaining wall to prevent erosion.

They had sued only Jones at first, but Jones later tried to place the blame for the problem on the Blalock firm, saying it had removed the dirt and he had counted on the company to make sure the work didn’t cause problems for neighboring property. Jones filed his own civil lawsuit against Blalock.

The Yakes were seeking as much as $1 million from the two parties.

This story is a classic example of one of the most inherent risks of site excavation in close quarters, which is property damage of a third party.

In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs are the neighbors of the customer getting dirt removed from his property. The excavators ended up removing so much land that they left a near vertical incline on the edge of the neighbors’ property.

Leaving a vertical incline between one property and another is okay if the contractor can get a permit to do so, there are plenty of neighboring houses with this kind of landscape between them. The problem with the situation above is that the excavator didn’t build a retaining wall, which is required to prevent erosion.

On properties with steep inclines between them, digging out the dirt against the property is effectively digging out the foundation of a house. Putting a up a wall strengthens the foundation and prevents more dirt from washing away. However, since the excavator didn’t put up a wall, the structural integrity of the neighboring house is put in jeopardy.

Following best practices is a must, especially for something as severe as the structural integrity of a house. A wall should have been put up to prevent erosion, and the excavation contractor could be held liable for the lawsuit as the customer being sued said they were dependent on their expertise in the field to advise about any work being done.

For more information about insurance for site improvement contractors, visit SitePro.

Would you like to become an NIP Programs Broker? Contact Us