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Vicki Arbitrio, PE, Gilsanz Murray Steficek LLP. Structural Engineer Emergency Response after 9/11: Looking Backward, Moving Forward. NCSEA Annual Conference. September 30, 2010 Jersey City, New Jersey. Thanks to…. American Society of Civil Engineers.

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vicki arbitrio pe gilsanz murray steficek llp
Vicki Arbitrio, PE,

Gilsanz Murray Steficek LLP

Structural Engineer Emergency Response after 9/11:Looking Backward, Moving Forward

NCSEAAnnual Conference

September 30, 2010

Jersey City, New Jersey

thanks to
Thanks to…

American Society of Civil Engineers

National Institute of Standards and Technology

New York City Department of Buildings

Structural Engineers Association of New York

thanks to3
Thanks to…

Michael De Chiara, Zetlin & De Chiara, LLP

Daniel A. Cuoco, PE, Thornton Tomasetti

Ramon Gilsanz, SE, PE, GMS

Joseph F. Tortorella, PE, Robert Silman Associates

previously presented at
Previously presented at…

2009 SEI Structures Congress, Austin, TX

NCSEA 17th Annual Conference - 2009, Scottsdale, AZ

ATC 13th US - Japan Workshop on the Improvement of Structural Design and Construction Practice Details, Hawaii

unless noted photo credits to
Unless noted, photo credits to…

Daniel A. Cuoco, PE, Thornton Tomasetti

Ramon Gilsanz, SE, PE, GMS

Joseph F. Tortorella, PE, Robert Silman Associates

aerial view
Aerial View

Photo Courtesy FEMA


2,451 civilian deaths, 800 injured and $33.44 billion lost.

10 million sq ft. commercial office space destroyed.

32 million sq ft. commercial office space considered useless.

860,000 sq ft. affected area.

~1.2 million tons of debris, including 350,000 tons of steel.


WTC 1North Tower




WTC 6US CustomsHouse

American Express



WTC 5Morgan Stanley

WTC 2South Tower

WTC 4Commercial

Bankers Trust

90 West St

WTC 3Marriott Hotel

Merrill Lynch




Millennium Hotel


Plaza Area

Church Street

101 Barclay

1 Liberty Plaza

30 West


Century 21

Vesey Street

Liberty Street


West Street

Battery Park



Church Street

1 and 9


N and R


Liberty Street

Vesey Street

Slurry Wall



West Street

site photos
Site Photos

Courtesy FEMA US&R

7 world trade center
7 World Trade Center

Courtesy FEMA US&R


September 11th – In the afternoon, SEAoNY attempts to make contact with the authorities.

September 12th –SEAoNY accesses the site and obtains permission for structural engineers to have access.

September 13th – SEAoNY engineers start going to the site.

September 14th- SEAoNY response organization is fully staffed and running.

SEAoNY engineers work around the clock through January 9, 2002.

new york city s response
New York City’s Response

Mayor’s Office of Emergency Management, through the NYC Department of Design & Construction, immediately retained:

For Debris Removal to Support Rescue & Recovery Operations

4 major Construction Management firms


Bovis Lend Lease

Tully Construction Company

Turner / Plaza Construction Companies

For Structural Engineering Operations


SEAoNY Teams


I understand that by volunteering to provide these services

and by my presence in the area of the World Trade Center,

I expose myself to dangerous conditions and risk of injury.

In the event that I suffer any injury (whether physical injury,

emotional injury, loss of property, death or any other type

of injury or loss), I release the Association from any and all

liability for such injuries. I further understand that I shall

not be entitled to Workers Compensation benefits thru the

Association because I am a volunteer and not an employee

of the Association.

structural engineering challenges
Structural Engineering Challenges

Emergency damage assessment of buildings in the immediate collapse area.

Identify unstable areas.

Develop temporary stabilization procedures.

Identify safe locations for heavy equipment, design reinforcement and grillages.

Develop and coordinate survey monitoring program.

Inspect over 400 buildings in the area surrounding the collapse site.

Detailed investigation of damaged buildings.

liberty street october 7 2001
Liberty Street – October 7, 2001



  • Fill excavation with sand.
  • Install dewatering wells.
  • Install tie-backs.

Photos Courtesy

D. Cuoco, Thornton Tomasetti

path and subway system
PATH and Subway System

Courtesy MTA

Courtesy PA NY/NJ

the result
The Result




map of sectors for inspection
Map of Sectors for Inspection

September 17 & 18 – Rapid Building Evaluations.

(371 buildings)

One inspection team assigned to each sector.

seaony inspections
SEAoNY Inspections

No Damage

Moderate Damage

Major Damage

Partial Collapse

Full Collapse

September 21 Detailed Building Evaluations of buildings rated Yellow, Blue, or Red

(31 buildings)

debris and the salvage yards
Debris and the Salvage Yards

SEAoNY volunteers monitored steel debris as it arrived at the salvage yards & helped to identify material from the impact zones.

SEAoNY engineers also recorded/gathered videos and photographs in an attempt to fully document the collapses.

fema bpat report
FEMA – BPAT Report

SEAoNY contributions:

CH 4 – 7 & Appendix D & F

goal 1
Goal 1

Design buildings to resist collapse from fire in a manner similar to designing buildings to resist collapse when exposed to other loads (i.e. gravity, earthquakes, wind, etc…)

goal 2
Goal 2

For emergency personnel to have information and assistance in an emergency.

goal 3
Goal 3

Proper enforcement of the Code in construction and design.

goal 4
Goal 4

Prevent local failure from causing a global collapse:


Critical Components.

Progressive Collapse.

code changes
Code Changes

Increased Structural Integrity.

Enhanced Fire Endurance of Structures.

Improved Active Fire Protection.

Improved Building Evacuation.

Improved Emergency Response.

the road to insurance coverage
The Road to Insurance Coverage:

December 2001 – Annual Meeting of Design Professionals Risk Control Group.

January 2002 – Joint Senate and House of Representatives on behalf of General Contractors Association of New York.

April 2004 – federal funds were allocated for FEMA Insurance Coverage.

wtc captive insurance company
WTC Captive Insurance Company

December 2004 – $1 Billion funding by FEMA.

Provide broad third-party liability coverage, including general, marine, environmental, and professional, for claims (other than workers comp and disability claims) against the City and the contractors arising from their activities during the WTC debris removal project.

Not a Victim’s Compensation Fund.

over 12 000 potential cases
Over 12,000 Potential Cases

There are approximately 19,977 total Plaintiffs [about 12,128 first-named and 7,849 derivative (spouse, etc.) Plaintiffs] suing New York City, the Contractors, Engineers and others.

Approximately 5,584 uniformed NYC workers (NYPD, FDNY, NYC Dept. of Sanitation)

Other groups of Plaintiffs include:

Non-uniformed NYC workers;

Uniformed Non-City workers;

Government workers; (non-NYC and Non-Uniformed)

Contractor employees;

Utility workers;

Building Cleaners and

Others (including Local Union workers, Volunteers, Red Cross, Retired, Self-Employed, etc.)


Personal Injury Lawsuits. (ongoing)

Conspiracy Theory Lawsuits. (dismissed in 2010 by U.S. Supreme Court)

Insurance Subrogation Lawsuits. (ongoing)

structural engineering firms named in lawsuits
Structural Engineering Firms Named in Lawsuits


Buro Happold Consulting Engineers

Ewell W. Finley, PC

Gilsanz Murray Steficek, LLP

Goldstein Associates, PLLC

Mueser Rutledge Consulting Engineers

Parsons Group

Leslie E Robertson Assoc, RLLP/LERA

Liro-Kassner, Inc.

Lockwood, Kessler & Bartlett, Inc. (LKB)

Lucius Pitkin, Inc.

M.G. McLaren PC

Meridian Construction Group, LLC

MRA Engineering, PC

Robert Silman Associates, PC

Simpson Gumpertz & Heger Inc.

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, LLP (A/E Firm)

Thornton Tomasetti Group (LZA)

Vollmer Associates, LLP (now Stantec)

Weidlinger Associates, Inc.

WSP Cantor Seinuk

liability coverage
Liability Coverage

Captive Insurance – time limitations as well as limitations of location.

Professional Liability Insurance.

Individual Firm Responsibility:


Independent Lawyers

state and federal immunities
State and Federal Immunities

Fall 2006 – US District Court denied motion to dismiss and for summary judgment.

Jan. 2007 – Appeal to US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Spring 2008 - US Court of Appeals dismissed appeal on technical jurisdictional grounds

Renewed motions filed Jan./Feb. 2010

12 “sample” cases selected for trial

direct personnel or control the site
Direct Personnel or Control the Site?

March 28, 2008 – Structural Engineers filed a motion for summary judgment.

August 26, 2008 – Court denied the engineers’ motion and requested more information.

January 15, 2010 – a renewed motion was made on the engineers’ behalf.

This motion has been briefed and is currently before the Court, which will either issue an Order resolving it, or schedule a date for oral argument.


June 10, 2010Lawyers for the City, the contractors, and the engineers negotiated a new, $712 million settlement with the plaintiffs

Settlement is endorsed by the judge, Alvin K. Hellerstein of US District Court in Manhattan

The settlement must be approved by 95 percent of the plaintiffs by November 30 to take effect.

current challenge
Current Challenge

Defend against plaintiffs’ allegations that the City, its contractors, and other defendants were negligent in that they failed to provide a safe workplace, failed to warn workers at the site, etc.

Enact legislation to protect emergency responder

Legislation pending in Congress to re-open the Victim’s Compensation Fund, allocate the Captive’s $1 Billion to pay claims, and eliminate liability for the City and its contractors for any current or future claims. HR-847

hr 847 and s 1334
HR 847 and S.1334

James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010

Will amend the Public Health Service Act to extend and improve protections and services to individuals directly impacted by the terrorist attack in New York City on September 11, 2001, and for other purposes.

Introduced by NY Rep. Carolyn Maloney and

co-sponsored by 115 other Representatives.

Introduced by NY Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and co-sponsored by eight other Senators

hr 847 and s 133453
HR 847 and S.1334

James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010 would take steps to:

give those eligible for medical treatment the opportunity to do so without sharing the cost,

re-open the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund for those who didn't file or become ill after the original deadline and

would also establish an emergency council responsible for coordinating the care and compensation of victims.

hr 847 and s 133454
HR 847 and S.1334

July 29, 2010 the House voted on a Motion to Suspend the Rules and Pass, as Amended: H R 847 James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act

This special procedure required 2/3 (66%) percentage of 'Aye' votes.

Percentage of 'aye' votes: 59% Result: Failed

September 29, 2010, passed House: 268 to 160

Senate bill is “in committee”- referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions has held hearings.

hr 847 and s 133455
HR 847 and S.1334

The bills include a clause limiting the liability of the contractors/subs (including engineers) to the sum of Captive's policy limits and their other available insurance coverage.

Limit=Σ(captive + firm)

new york state efforts
New York State Efforts

S3720-A and A1269-A

Enacts the "engineers', architects', landscape architects' and land surveyors' good samaritan act"

to protect from liability for personal injury, wrongful death, property damage or other loss professional engineers, architects, landscape architects and land surveyors who render voluntary services, without compensation, at the scene of a natural disaster or catastrophe.

the west coast method
The West Coast Method

In areas of seismic activity, PEs who are trained as "Disaster Services Volunteers" areofficially activated by the local jurisdiction.

Thus, a Professional is provided limited immunity from liability by both state and federal statutes.

good samaritan
Good Samaritan

The Good Samaritan doctrine is a legal principle thatprevents a rescuer who has volunteered to helpa victim in distressfrom being successfully suedfor 'wrongdoing‘.

The Good Samaritan acts without expectation of compensation.

emergency responder
Emergency Responder

Emergency Responder legislation would protectdesign professionals hired to provide professional servicesresponding to a disaster,from lawsuits that attempt to make engineersresponsible for work outside their scope or expertise, or for providing services in good faith under emergency conditions.

what can you do now
What can you do now?
  • Does your state have a SE Emergency Response Plan, or Emergency Response Team in place?
  • If so – sign up!
  • If not – start one!
what can you do now63
What can you do now?
  • Get trained to help respond to a disaster – ATC-20 and ATC-45.
  • Get in touch with State Emergency Management
what can you do now64
What can you do now?

SEAoNY members, please complete (or update) the SEERP information sheet that is located in the Member Profile section of the SEAoNY website. 

If you have a PE please fill in the box as:PE - (XXX) XXX-XXXX

If you do not have a PE please fill in the box as:(XXX) XXX-XXXXATC-45 training is required. 

NYC DOB is holding rapid training sessions.

what can you do now65
What can you do now?
  • Work with your state MO and SEER group
  • Push for Emergency Responder Legislation.
  • Help “spread the word”
    • - talk to your friends and neighbors
    • - talk to your local officials

See the handout – ACEC and ASCE positions

More information?

thank you
Thank You.


site september 3 2010
Site – September 3, 2010

©Joe Woolhead, courtesy Silverstein Properties