|Investigation Tools: Legal Consideration
Lawsuits happen. We prefer to avoid them by giving quality work and avoiding customers with expectations that are not feasible. Greg Weatherman has served as an expert witness in various cases dealing with microbial investigations and remediation in different states. Experience with litigation as an expert witness is a real education how to do business the right way. Sometimes people donít know the communication of an expert witness is not protected as attorney/client privilege. Even worse, some people may think the expertís opinion is bought when the pay the consulting fees. In reality, an expert witness answers questions honestly and based on creditable science.
We do things in a certain manner because our credibility is at stake if we suggest something that is not defensible in court with science. We also avoid conflicts of interest since lawsuits have a strange way of coming back 2 to 5 years later. We donít have a crystal ball. All we can do is be honest and treat everyone the same according to the facts presented.
In one case involving health complaints, we acted as the remediation contractor. The client was told our company would not act as the remediation contractor and consultant. The client was told someone else would have to do the testing. The client was told mold from water intrusion could be coming from more than one location. 4 years later, an HVAC contractor was sued by this same client for deficient work that caused the house to pull in more moisture and resulting microbial problems. The HVAC companyís defense attorney asked the right questions to see if we did anything that was a conflict of interest so he could blame us to save his client, the HVAC contractor. This is just one sterling example of why contractors should not be consultants or inspectors on the same job to justify their work at the customerís expense.
In another situation involving real estate, we were called to do an inspection to verify if a house really needed $40,000 worth of mold remediation and reconstruction before the property could be sold. On a prior occasion, the potential buyer had another firm perform a microbial investigation for remediation work they would do Ė a clear conflict of interest. The person doing the testing was actually the owner or former owner of the company even though the other company he claimed to represent was not listed by the State of Virginia as a real business. The rest of the story should be obvious at this point.