North Star Associates, LLC

Peace of Mind for Business Professionals 

Here's an example of how we were able to help save an engineer's business:


The client was the subject of an agency initiated disciplinary action that came about when a building official decided that the engineer had unlawfully submitted a set of permit plans that were based on an unauthorized "design manual."  The agency ultimately determined that the permit plans were OK as to the form.  


That was not the end of the story BECAUSE THE ENGINEER MADE THE MISTAKE OF RESPONDING TO THE COMPLAINT WITHOUT HAVING ALL OF THE FACTS HE NEEDED TO MAKE A PROPER RESPONSE.  In fact, the building official violated Florida Statutes by contacting the board of engineers prior to permitting the engineer to correct the problem locally.


The agency, acting on a mere hunch, sent the plans to one of its "consulting experts" ("hired gun").  The expert reported that "in his opinion" the permit plans were substantially defective.  Based on the so-called "expert opinion" the agency charged the engineer with "negligence in the practice of engineering" long after the structure had passed final inspection and with no complaint from the property owner. 


 As it always does, the agency offered the engineer its usual "settlement package."  Had he settled, this engineer would have lost his right to practice in more than 30 states because of reciprocity rules.  Settlement was not an option.


The agency dropped the case on the day before final hearing.  Even though the case against the engineer was frivolous from the start and the agency's expert witness was thoroughly discredited in the process, an appellate court refused to award the engineer his defense costs.


Unjustified complaints are a common occurrence in business.  They are to be taken seriously. Responding to an official complaint without expert assistance is not a prudent move. 


Phil Stoddard