Investigation and Dispute Resolution: A Case Study

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Title: Investigation and Dispute Resolution: A Case Study

Author(s): Avanti C. Shroff

Publication: Special Publication

Volume: 285

Issue:

Appears on pages(s): 1-12

Keywords: Slab cracking; dynamic loading; dispute resolution; investigation; repair; Forensic expert

Date: 5/1/2012

Abstract:
The warehouse property located in Bergen County, New Jersey included a Subleased Upper Mezzanine space of about 140,000 sq. ft. (13,000 m2). In February 2006, the Subtenant reported certain damage to the Mezzanine floor slab. A dispute developed regarding the condition of the Mezzanine essentially involving extensive cracking, the cause(s) of such damage and the remedy for such damage. Subtenant denied that its actions had caused or contributed to the damaged floor. This study was carried out to investigate and analyze the current Mezzanine slab conditions, evaluate the cause(s) of such damage and recommend potential remedies for that damage. The investigation included review of existing construction documents and field trips to the premises to review and document the condition of the Mezzanine floor slab, review and document the type, size and location of storage racks supported on the slab and observation of the movements of various types of 3-wheel pickers and fork-lifts operating on the Mezzanine slab. To understand the possible scenarios that could have induced initial cracking of the Mezzanine composite concrete floor, various study models of the slab were evaluated using: static design loading; rack loadings; and dynamic loadings imposed by movements of single and multiple pickers. Equipped with an analysis supported by data, Landlord rejected Subtenant’s position and demanded that Subtenant immediately replace its fleet of motorized moving equipment, repair the damaged floor, and implement a monitoring protocol. Subtenant initially refused, presenting its own expert analysis. Through careful coordination between legal counsel and engineering professionals and negotiation, Landlord persuaded Subtenant to take immediate corrective action at Subtenant’s sole expense. This paper summarizes the findings of the investigation conducted by JEK and the subsequent resolution of the dispute between landlord and Subtenant.