Consulting, Dispute Resolution, and Expert Testimony Experience

Retained by the plaintiff legal counsel representing the wife of a construction worker who was tragically killed. Was retained by a prestigious law firm with locations in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The case involved a construction worker who was working on a major highway asphalt repaving project. The construction worker in this case was struck by a 25 ton asphalt roller and crushed into the hot asphalt. He sustained 3rd-degree burns over 26 percent of his body and multiple severe bone fractures. He ultimately succumbed to his injuries and died ten days later. There were in excess of 10,000 pages of discovery. Fortunately, I successfully utilized document organization software, making searching and retrieval of documents fast and efficient. Based on my experience, training and education, my opinions and conclusions were based on OSHA safety, ANSI standards, the roller equipment manufacturer's safety and operators manual, project site specific health and safety plan as well as industry standards and best safety practices. My initial expert report consisted of 40 pages and 14 demonstrative exhibits. The case ultimately went to trial. My direct, cross and redirect testimony spanned 3 days. The entire case took 8 days. After two days of deliberation, the jury entered a verdict in favor of the plaintiff. The plaintiff’s wife was awarded substantial financial compensation for the loss of services, direct and punitive damages.

Was retained by legal counsel representing an elderly woman. She and her granddaughter were planning to attend an opera simulcast that was being held at a local high school in Staten Island, New York. The granddaughter drove past the school entrance where she observed considerable ongoing construction activity. She stopped her car further down where there was no visible construction activity taking place and dropped the elderly woman off to shorten her walk from the parking lot. The elderly woman exited the passenger side of the car and proceeded to walk towards the sidewalk. A contractor's employee(s) started shouting. She could not hear what they were saying, but the sound was enough to cause her to look in their direction. This distracted her and she stepped directly into an open trench excavation, falling down four to five feet and onto a 12” pipe causing significant injury and distress. It was my expert opinion, to a reasonable degree of professional certainty, that the construction company’s upper management, foreman, supervisors and other employees at the project exhibited reckless disregard and indifference for safety by leaving an unprotected, un-barricaded open trench for a distance of approximately 350 linear feet away from active construction activity. As a direct result of their indifference and failure to abide by established, unambiguous, recognized and acknowledged safety regulations and permit stipulations, the elderly woman fell into the unprotected open trench and suffered devastating, inexcusable and preventable injury. Shortly after submitting my 20 page expert report complete with eight demonstrative exhibits the case settled out of court in favor of the elderly woman.

Legal action was brought against the manufacturer of the Hydra-Borer machine, at which point I was retained by their legal counsel. The case involved an employee who was working at a residential construction project for the installation of a cable conduit. He was operating and/or working with an Astec Maxi-Sneaker Series C Trencher with a Hydra-Borer attachment. The scope of work was, in general, to bore under a driveway so that a Fios cable could be installed. The employee was standing at the side of the trench, using shovel(s) to guide the horizontal direction of the rod and applying force with his foot on the rod to counter the forces that would cause the drilling rod to change direction. Shortly after the horizontal drill began, his pant leg was caught by the rotating drilling rod, entangling his right leg, which resulted in severe injury and ultimately amputation of the employee’s right leg above the knee. The discovery overwhelmingly revealed “IMPROPER OPERATION OF THIS MACHINE CAN CAUSE INJURY OR DEATH.” Ample and visible warnings were posted both in the operator’s manual and on the machine. In my report I opined, “In my expert opinion, to a reasonable degree of professional certainty, the employee knew and understood his actions were extremely dangerous, but, unlike what a reasonable person would do, he ignored the warnings in the operator’s manual and warning labels on the machine, which resulted in his injury.” The equipment manufacturer, on the basis of my reports and the factual content and demonstrative exhibits contained therein, was released from the case.

Was retained by the legal counsel for a drilling firm which was to drill and install a new monitoring well located in Gainesville, Florida. The representative for the drilling firm contacted the “Sunshine State One Call” of Florida on more than one occasion to perform mark-outs of any existing underground utilities. The final and exact location of where the monitoring well was to be drilled and installed was marked with a clearly visible white bull’s eye target. Existing underground utility locations were required to be clearly marked and identified to avoid interference or damage to the existing underground utility. The drilling company ultimately and without knowledge caused the drilling and installation of the monitoring well to interfere with and/or damage the City of Gainesville sanitary sewer. The case was ultimately settled out of court. While I am not permitted to disclose the details of the settlement, suffice it to say the retaining attorney indicated it was a favorable settlement, “largely based on the strength of [my] expert report.”

Was retained by the plaintiff, the Boston Water and Sewer Commission, which issued a contract to a contractor, the defendant. The contractor was installing approximately 7,200 ft of cement lined ductile iron water main ranging in size six inches to sixteen inches in diameter and included setting valves, fittings and other related water main tasks. The contract was valued at approximately 7.9 million dollars. A massive failure occurred and resulted in excessive water leakage and severe flooding of local businesses, which the plaintiffs valued in excess of 5 million dollars. The evidence in this case clearly revealed the contractor failed to properly install friction clamps and rods according to acceptable industry standards, best practices and BWSC specifications for restraints, so that the twelve-inch gate valve and the active pressurized pipe to the north could not separate and blow apart. Based on my experience and expert opinion, considering industry standards, the contractor also failed to properly submit design calculations and shop drawings for the steel frame it designed and fabricated to act as a restraint. The result was obviously a massive water flood event causing significant property damage to the local businesses. After submitting a 20 page report and 10 demonstrative exhibits, the case soon settled out of court in favor of the plaintiff.

Was retained to provide expert witness services in a case where a worker was struck by a backhoe bucket. The worker suffered significant career ending injury, including the amputation of two of his toes. This was an intense case with lengthy deposition, investigative reports, police and fire reports, and thousands of pages of other documents and evidence. After a thorough review of all the documentation, depositions and other evidence, I provided an initial and detailed analysis and expert report and appeared at opposing counsel's deposition. The case settled shortly thereafter. Retaining counsel stated "Mr. Gulya is very well informed and reviewed all materials provided to us very carefully and professionally. He held himself out as a qualified expert with dignity and truthfulness. His report was detailed and accurate and left no stone unturned. Mr. Gulya provided an unbiased realistic review of the facts and the industry standards. The defense respected his truthful and candid demeanor. Our case was settled before trial but we have no doubt that if we proceeded to trial he would have been an effective and respected expert in his field."

Provided expert witness services including research and expert report to legal counsel representing the developer of a new office building. The case involved a contractor who was performing micro tunneling services for a general contractor during the construction of a new medical office building. The contractor did not properly locate an existing sanitary sewer main and did not properly calculate the amount of concrete they were pumping into the ground. As it turned out, the micro tunneling contractor filled the existing sanitary sewer main with concrete for several hundred feet. This blockage caused the waste to back up into the hospital next door, causing significant damage and service interruption to the hospital. After a thorough review of all the documentation, depositions and other evidence, I provided a 30 page expert report. The case later settled and the client later stated, “Bill, we successfully mediated the case and reached a settlement within the last week. Thank you for your assistance with this matter. I believe it was a big part of getting to settlement.” - A.M.

Was retained to provide expert witness services in a trench collapse case where an employee of the company was tragically killed, resulting in a 7.5 million dollar lawsuit. This was a very intense case with 15 lengthy depositions, shoring testing, hundreds of photos, fire, police and rescue reports, CAL-OSHA investigative reports, citations and 30,000 pages of other documents and evidence. After a thorough review of all the documentation, depositions and other evidence, I provided an initial 60 page expert report and a 25 page supplemental report including testing results graphs and charts, and detailed analysis. The case later settled and the client later stated, “Mr. Gulya, your reports were excellent, they were detailed, accurate and professional. They were instrumental and central in settling this case. Thank you.” - S.J.

Was retained in a case whereby a contractor had installed a new water line in a roadway. At the end of the workday, the road was backfilled and paved. Later that evening a car hit a water valve box that was sticking up out of the roadway where the construction took place, causing extensive damage to the vehicle and injury to the driver. This case was a mystery to me at first. How is it possible a water valve box magically lifted out of the ground? It was further puzzling because the evidence revealed a traffic officer signed off stating the road was safe for traffic to resume over it. Did the officer not see the water valve box sticking up 18 inches to two feet above the road surface? Not likely. After I had performed a careful investigation, it became clear. The evidence supported my conclusion that this roadway serviced a large towing company. My conclusion as stated in my 28 page expert report declared that a tow truck was towing a car where the back end of the car was literally dragging the ground. The rear bumper of the car hooked the water valve box and pulled it up out of the roadway 18 inches to two feet. Shortly thereafter, the car hit the valve box. Mystery solved. The case was later settled out of court. My client called me, “a modern day Sherlock Holmes.” - R.E.

Consulted and provided expert witness testimony in arbitration on approximately $1,000,000.00 back charge case for a contractor, where it was alleged by the general contractor that the contractor did not perform compaction of earth according to his contract. The contractor prevailed in arbitration, was not held responsible for the back charge, and collected in excess of $300,000.00 in additional cost and/or damages from the general contractor. Consulted on letter of intent for a construction contract value in excess of $2,100,000.00 whereby it was alleged the general contractor terminated the letter of intent and contract for convenience and refused to pay the contractor for work and services already performed. The case involved detailed scheduling, contractor’s estimate, time cards and material cost review. A timeline and detailed report of all equipment, labor, material and miscellaneous cost was developed. The contractor prevailed and was awarded all outlined cost by the court.

Consulted and testified in county court and mediation for a construction contractor who was sued by a retaining wall subcontractor. The subcontractor alleged the contractor should not back charge for delay cost, equipment and labor the contractor supplied to the subcontractor. The contractor’s supporting cost data was evaluated, and both scheduling delays charts and cost support reports were developed. The contractor prevailed on all of the equipment and labor damages and recovered 75% of the delay cost from the subcontractor. Consulted and testified in open court for a contractor who had filed a lien on a project for nonpayment. The lien was challenged by the defense as being “willfully over exaggerated.” A compilation of the contractor’s accounting, cost, change orders and pending change orders was conducted and a complete analysis provided. The contractor’s legal counsel challenged the defense’s claim. In court the judge determined, based on a preponderance of the evidence provided by both the plaintiff and the defense, that the contractor’s lien value “while not exactly correct was not materially different and therefore was not willfully exaggerated.”

Consulted and testified in Superior Court for a public agency that had brought action against a developer for reimbursement of pumping system cost increases. This required a detailed review of the contractor’s schedule, cost, productivity and manpower. It also required a detailed review of the public agency’s plans, specifications, issued change orders, administrative and engineering cost. The public agency prevailed, and again in Appeals Court, and the decision is published in case law publications.

Consulted with the contractor directly prior to any legal counsel. Contractor had a substantial delay, winter condition productivity loss and differing site conditions claim against his customer. The essence of the case involved a delay caused by a clearing and demo contractor hired directly by the owner. The more than 3 month delay pushed the contractor into the winter months. The soil became wet and frozen and thus unsuitable. 45,000 tons of quarry blended imported material was then required. The GC told the contractor to proceed. The contractor bought and installed the material at a cost in excess of $720,000.00. The contractor also trucked / exported the unsuitable earth at a cost of $240,000.00. The GC then amended its decision to say “proceed and you will be compensated based on the compensation if any received from the owner.” Needless to say, the contractor became very concerned. I was then brought in to consult the contractor. A completed schedule showing the delay and impact, along with certified weather and temperature charts, was prepared, as well as a detailed report and accounting of the contractor’s documented cost, and productivity. Lastly a complete synopsis of the contractor’s entire claim including CPM schedules, charts, graphs, and written report was provided. As a result of the contractor’s total preparation the case never went to court and the contractor was properly compensated.

Consulted with contractor on advice from his counsel. The contractor had a potential claim against his customer for what the contractor considered additional work. After reviewing the contractor’s file, I was of the opinion it was a gray area at best and the contractor’s data could not fully support his position. I advised the contractor and his attorney it might be more beneficial and far less costly to try to find some neutral ground. I agreed to prepare what I believed to be a fair and reasonable settlement. My report included the reasons for the proposed settlement and why it would benefit the contractor and be difficult for his customer to reject. The settlement was proposed by the contractor and finalized by both parties’ legal counsel. In the end both the contractor and his customer were satisfied with the outcome.

Consulted with legal counsel and provided a 26 page expert witness report. The dispute revolved when a heavy equipment rental company rented equipment to a contractor performing border wall construction. The contractor went out of business and the company was owed a substantial amount of money. The general contract by virtue of their payment and performance bond was then liable for the debt of the contractor. When the rental company asked to be paid, the general contractor alleged the company charged in excess of fair value for the rentals. After extensive research and analysis I was of the opinion the rental company had not over charged, as alleged by the general contractor. The case has yet to be heard or decided by a court of law.

Was retained to provide expert witness services in a case where a worker was clearing snow using a Bobcat front end loader. The worker suffered significant career-ending injuries, when he hit a manhole cover that was sticking up above the base course paving. This was an intense case with lengthy deposition, and thousands of pages of other documents and evidence. After a thorough review of all of the discovery, I provided an initial and detailed analysis and expert report and appeared in court to testify. Retaining counsel stated, "Mr. Gulya was professional, reviewed all materials and provided us a very well written detailed report. He was qualified and presented himself with dignity and truthfulness. Mr. Gulya provided an unbiased realistic review of the facts and the industry standards. Mr. Gulya’s truthful and candid demeanor earned the respect of opposing counsel and the court. Mr. Gulya was to be our first witness. We believe his report and his presence in court initiated settlement discussions, which the judge granted. Our case settled and the judge thanked the jury for their service and dismissed them. However, “we have no doubt with Mr. Gulya’s testimony, demeanor and professionalism we would have prevailed.”

Was retained in a construction slip and fall accident. The general contractor was responsible to provide the iron workers a clean, dry, safe work area. The worker slipped on ice that had formed on a concrete slab and fell down, violently sustaining several debilitating injuries. The discovery was voluminous. I provided a 45 page expert report detailing the facts, standards of care and best practices. The case went to trial and I testified in court for four hours. During the lunch break the attorneys entered into negotiations. When court resumed they announced they had reached a settlement. The attorney told me “We believe your testimony was instrumental in convincing our adversary to settle the case.”

Was retained by a prominent Philadelphia law firm. The case involved a young boy who drowned at a construction site. The discovery was voluminous, so much so that it consumed more than 12 legal boxes. After carefully reviewing all the evidence I concluded the contractor in this matter failed to install the proper erosion control measures, failed to provide dewatering devices as would have been required, and failed to provide proper barricades, fencing and warning signs, to conform with best industry standard safety practices. I issued a 68-page expert report, a 20-page supplemental report and a rebuttal report of the adversary’s expert. The case settled three months later. The attorney said, “William, your report was so detailed it left little doubt that the contractor was responsible for this tragedy, thank you.”

Was retained by the defendant in this case, who rented a 1997 Lull 8K-42 telehandler, which is a rough terrain telehandler vehicle, from a equipment rental company for the purpose of repairing a 108-foot tall tower that had been knocked down into some trees during a storm. The telehandler (Lull) was rented with an attached personnel work platform. The tower was rigged to the platform so that during the process of lifting the tower the tower would pivot to a vertical position off the ground for transport. The defendant had stopped all movement of the controls, and the telehandler was stationary when the front wheel lifted off the ground. He then operated the frame tilt control in order to tilt the telehandler to the left to bring the wheel back down onto the ground. It was at this point the telehandler tipped over to the right side and the defendant, who was in the personnel work platform, was fatally injured. I performed a thorough inspection of the equipment, forensic reports of others who tested the equipment controls, pictures, and thousands of pages of other discovery. I then provided a lengthy expert report wherein I opined that the company that had rented the equipment to the defendant was faulty. The safety mechanisms, which would have prevented this tragic accident, were not in proper working order and were either defective or disabled, causing the telehandler to tip over. The defendant/s did not know nor could they have known or be aware that the telehandler was unsafe to operate.

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For knowledgeable and experienced assistance with construction site work issues or disputes, contact William Gulya, Jr., at 908-313-3126.