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Firm Protects Property Owner's Buildings from Implosion of the Kosciuszko Bridge

The Firm recently represented Emil Realty, the owner of commercial buildings in Brooklyn, New York, in the negotiation and consummation of an agreement to protect its buildings from potential damage arising from the implosion of the former Kosciuszko Bridge. The implosion was then allowed to occur on October 1, 2017. The matter was handled by Jon Ward, a Partner with the Firm, who was assisted by Firm Partner Chris Coschignano and Firm Associate Nick Cappadora.

Prior to the implosion, Emil Realty sought the Firm’s guidance on how best to protect its properties from potential damage arising from the implosion. The New York State Department of Transportation and its contractor, Skanska Kiewit ECCO III JV (SKE), called for the felling of the approach trusses of the bridge by detonating explosives at key structural points on the bridge and allowing the bridge road bed and its structural components to collapse to the ground below the bridge. As part of the plan, an 800-ton segment of the bridge was to fall a vertical distance of approximately 50 feet and land approximately 25 horizontal feet from the client’s buildings. The client was justifiably concerned that such ultra-hazardous activity could potentially cause catastrophic damage to its buildings.

To ensure that the client’s buildings would be protected from such damage and the owner would not be held responsible for any damage to the buildings, the Firm assembled a team of professionals, including a structural dynamics engineer, to assess the bridge felling plan and its anticipated impact on the client’s buildings (i.e., air blast energy from the detonation of explosives on the bridge; seismic vibrational energy from the impact of the bridge components on the ground; and a second air blast of dust and debris created from the impact). The Firm then successfully negotiated an appropriate agreement with SKE to protect the client’s buildings from the risk of damage.

Under the agreement, SKE was responsible for surveying the building before, during and after the felling; installing seismic monitoring devices to measure the vibrational energy from the felling; increasing the size of the earthen berms under the bridge to absorb the vibrational energy; installing and removing plywood covering the windows and covers for air handling units and scupper protection to protect the building from dust and debris; and inspecting the building’s structural integrity immediately after the felling, one month after the felling and six months after the felling. The contractor must also share any data, photographs and video of the felling, clean up any dust and debris from the building and quickly repair any damages sustained by the building.

The Firm also made sure that Emil Realty was to be indemnified from damages and liability arising from the felling and, as such, the client was added as an additional insured on SKE’s commercial general liability policy with coverage protection up to $10 million. If any disputes arose, both sides would enter into mandatory, expedited arbitration.

“We are pleased to be able to provide this representation to our client,” Mr. Ward said. “By entering into this agreement, we were able to protect our client’s properties and interests while, at the same time, allowing this vital public works project to move forward.”

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