CONSTRUCTION KNOWLEDGE BLOG
April 20, 2012
About a week ago, I blogged about the Tampa Bay Water Authority losing their lawsuit against HDR (their design engineers). The $97M lawsuit claimed that HDR incorrectly designed the new reservoir and caused the cracking and leaking. TBW rejected a $30M mediation settlement and went to a jury trial.
It only took the jury four hours to decide against TBW. Now the $24M in legal fees (about half for each side) will likely have to be paid by TBW. So how does TBW respond? With continued arrogance, they announced they plan to file for a new trial.
In construction, as in life, arrogance is almost always the wrong answer. That sense of superiority and self-importance rarely moves a problem toward resolution. So who’s at fault? It’s easy to blame the attorneys. I have no doubt they are recommending that they can get this new trial and win it.
Blaming the attorneys, though, misses the point. Remember the story of The Scorpion and the Tortoise? It’s a fable about a scorpion asking a tortoise to carry him across a river. The tortoise is afraid of being stung during the trip, but the scorpion argues that if it stung the tortoise, the tortoise would sink and the scorpion would drown. The tortoise agrees and begins carrying the scorpion, but midway across the river the scorpion does indeed sting the tortoise, dooming them both. When asked why, the scorpion points out that this is its nature.
It’s in the nature of a trial lawyer to be competitive and aggressive. A wise person understand that the decision to go to litigation shouldn’t be made by the attorney, but by the main stakeholder.
So I blame the head of TBW. The continued display of arrogance acts as a primer for how not to lead.
Fight hard, but take your losses with honor and humility. Tomorrow’s another day.