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Salt Laden Soil Reaction Causes Homes’ Structural Integrity to Fail

A booming new lakeside community turned dangerous for homeowners as they noticed major structural deterioration around their homes. Circa 2000, a developer built a master-planned community atop salt-laden soil. A mere ten years after these homes were constructed, the corrosive minerality caused the homes’ foundations and masonry walls to slowly crumble, compromising their structural integrity. The residents watched their homes lose value before their eyes, and quite literally beneath their feet.

Naturally, these homeowners grew concerned. The community knew they needed to enlist legal help to uncover the defects in their neighborhood. They contacted Daniel Rottinghaus and Howard J. Silldorf of Berding|Weil, a leading construction defect law firm.

As Daniel and Howard began to build their case, they recognized that the soil around the homes was highly alkaline. This mineral-laden soil caused the porous concrete to absorb the salt’s moisture, allowing corrosive materials to permeate through the structures and causing them to fail. Moreover, the enclosed steel cables within the homes’ foundations began to rust, creating a high potential for collapse. Daniel and Howard knew they had a strong case, but would a judge, jury, or the opposition understand the gravity of what happened to their clients’ homes? They needed strong visuals to demonstrate what was happening to this neighborhood from the inside out. With direction from their engineering experts, the attorneys brought on DK Global to create an animated presentation of the events.

The animation opened with an aerial view of the community, Illuminating the ground afflicted with salty soil. The visual then demonstrated how the erosive minerals deteriorated masonry walls around the homes. The post-tension cables were then displayed by a lateral view, showing how rust had riddled the hefty material. Finally, experts provided solutions to restore the properties back to compliance. First, dense, watertight concrete would need to replace the dilapidated masonry. Next, wall footings and essential hardware would need to be replaced or exposed. Last, an epoxy coating would be applied to the hardware and then filled with a waterproof sealer.

Daniel and Howard presented the animation during mediation. They knew if the developers had used watertight concrete and structural grout while constructing this housing development, the defect issues could have been avoided. As a result, the duo proved that the blemished neighborhood was continuing to depreciate. They secured a multi-million-dollar settlement to restore the homes.

Daniel Rottinghaus has been a partner at Berding|Weil since 1995. He is a litigation partner and represents commercial and residential real estate clients in construction defect cases. He has been named a Northern California Super Lawyer for over ten years. Rottinghaus has served as a Special Task Force legal advisor for the U.S. State Department and Lead attorney for U.S. Army cases, earning the Department of State “Superior Honor Award” in 1993.

Howard J. Silldorf has represented clients throughout Southern California for nearly 30 years. He has recovered more than $200,000,000 in over 100 cases. Howard has earned the Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Rating of “AV Preeminent” in construction defect representation, a prestigious accomplishment attained by attorneys of the highest level of professional excellence.


"Working with DK Global is so helpful because they have the type of experts on staff that can help contribute - can help tell us what might benefit us - what might be meaningful through the course of the case."
Jill Jackson - Berding & Weil
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