GZA was commissioned to assist a legal client with active litigation proceedings on the part of several owners of a residential condominium development. The condominiums were constructed on top of an improperly closed landfill, resulting in both environmental and geotechnical issues. The building slab had begun to crack because of differential settlement in the underlying landfill materials, which in turn led to the intrusion of chemical vapors into living spaces. In addition, several contaminants were discovered at concentrations above acceptable limits in soil samples taken at the site.
GZA was asked to turn hundreds of pages of technical reports and data into a form more easily understood by jury members, the plaintiff’s legal team, and the trial judge. The model also had to be legally defensible, with the team able to demonstrate that the graphics developed and presented for the site accurately represented the available data. While GZA had previously developed and used this model for other situations, this would be the first time it would be presented and defended in court.
GZA developed a clear and defensible 3D model of the contaminated site to assist jurors in understanding the extent of the contaminated fill. The team reviewed and identified key information, and used 3D Studio Max to develop a photorealistic and immersive model derived from engineered plans, tables, and other data. The model was used in both pre-trial meetings with the client and during trial proceedings, and was supported by expert testimony from the GZA professional who prepared the model. The model was also placed on a tablet computer for the jury’s use during its deliberations so that jurors could rotate, zoom in, and otherwise examine the model.
The jury came to a verdict after only one day of deliberation, and GZA’s client was awarded $1.4 million in damages.