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Bad Drinking Water May Equate to Bad Engineering

The New Jersey Appellate Division recently reversed a decision dismissing claims against an engineering firm called Remington & Vernick, brought by a South Jersey municipality the borough of Berlin. The case focused on a request by Berlin to have some additional wells installed to provide drinking water to the community. Apparently, Remington & Vernick was commissioned to provide engineering services and related permitting services associated with this venture. When residents complained about the water tasting bad—water which was generated by the wells which were ultimately installed— Berlin filed suit against Remington & Vernick, and others, alleging that the bad water was a result of their poor professional services.

At first, the trial court dismissed the claims against the engineering firm, finding that Berlin did not have adequate expert testimony to support its claim against the firm. However, Remington & Vernick's victory was short lived; the Appellate Division reversed and reinstated the case. According to the Appellate Division, the engineer provided by the municipality to offer testimony in conjunction with a hydro-geologist, also offered by the municipality to provide expert testimony, was enough to allow the case to go forward and defeat the engineering firm's dispositive motion.

There are two lessons to be learned from this case. First, it is important in any case where engineering practices are questioned to have adequate expert testimony on your side in order to go forward with the case. The failure to have qualified experts may very well result in a dismissal. The second point is that expert testimony does not necessarily have to be from one expert; it may very well be that several experts will be required to offer adequate testimony by a plaintiff in a professional malpractice case. As long as in the totality, these professionals cover all of the necessary claims in the professional malpractice case, then that approach is acceptable and the case will survive a motion to dismiss.

The Toxic injury Lawyers are a team of attorneys with great experience in toxic torts, such as contaminated drinking water, sickness and property damage caused by mold, and exposure to harmful chemicals; cases for which routinely require experienced experts for litigation. Our firm has worked with highly qualified experts in myriad fields, ranging from geologists to medical professionals, and our attorneys know what expert is best suited for every matter to provide our clients with the strongest case possible.

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