Forensic Engineering


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Established in 1945, Walter C. Smith Company, Inc. (WC Smith) is a privately owned construction company with decades of experience in horizontal drilling services for pipeline contractors, utility providers, municipalities, petroleum companies, and other agencies.

WC Smith had installed about 1,000 feet of 72-inch casing and 60-inch water pipeline with microtunneling technology in the San Francisco Bay Area. Although the project was completed within line and grade, the presence of harder rock than anticipated throughout the majority of the tunnel horizon resulted in a cost that was more than double the original bid. WC Smith submitted a claim to the project owner for reimbursement of the fees associated with the additional labor, materials, and equipment rental costs. The owner rejected this initial claim. However, WC Smith felt the claim had merit and contacted Cannon to support this claim effort. Cannon prepared a thorough response to the owner’s statements with sound technical support and a clear basis for reimbursement.

Cannon prepared a response letter to the owner’s rejection of WC Smith’s claim and led negotiations with the owner. Cannon’s effort throughout the ensuing six months included:

  • Conduct critical path analysis from the bid submittal to substantial completion of work
  • Consult with microtunneling and geotechnical experts to establish reasonable engineering interpretation of the information provided
  • Respond point-by-point to owner’s statements
  • Research and compile supporting documentation, such as geotechnical reports, industry microtunneling standards, and environmental documentation
  • Meet with WC Smith and prime contractor staff to review
  • Document preparation detailing components of the claim and basis for the request
  • Review of original bid package, including plans, specifications, and geotechnical baseline report
  • Review of submittals and correspondence
  • Preparation of baseline and actual schedules

Ultimately, the Owner settled the claim for more than $300,000, which far exceeded WC Smith’s expected outcome.

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Clovis, California

Forensic Engineering