Litigation involving architecture usually involves some failure in the construction process, a dispute over lease terms like sight lines or common areas, an insurance claim involving an allegedly negligent design, or the responsibility for a building damaged in a natural disaster.
Since most jurors are familiar with architecture to some degree, what usually has to be explained is the legal meaning of seemingly everyday terms, the process of design and construction, or the common customs of the architectural and construction businesses. That's where legal graphics often enter the picture.
Architecture-related litigation, especially when major damage has occurred, can involve high stakes. As a law firm that works in the area has written [pdf],
The goriest photos, the most damning letters from the builder, the contract specifications, juxtaposed with the defense expert's field notes stating that some critical element is missing and noting damage. That's what the attorney begins assembling, and in some logical, meaningful manner, if possible.
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As the trial date approaches, court-imposed deadlines for exchange of motions become the new reality. Trial briefs, responses and replies on legal issues; motions seeking to prevent introduction of evidence (also called motions in limine); exhibit lists, witness lists and a myriad of other tasks are due. The exhibit and jury consultants must be summoned to assist in creating oversize photos, boards, demonstrative exhibits, models, flow charts, and any other visual aid that might help in keeping the jury focused on the facts, and on "our" side of the case.
We have had considerable experience creating legal graphics in many types of litigation that center around architecture and design. For example, when buildings are damaged as a result of a natural disaster such as a hurricane or tornado, litigation often follows. In the legal graphic presentation below, we created an interactive PowerPoint map of a building to show the damage from many perspectives.
In a very different kind of matter, we are frequently involved in disputes involving commercial leases in which millions of dollars are at stake. Below, a simple legal graphics site tour comes to life with interactive photos of the office areas in question linked to the floor plan. This presentation made an otherwise dry exhibit much more gripping.
In the case below, the issue in a landlord-tenant commercial dispute was whether the architectural sight lines permitted a retailer’s branding to be clearly seen. The planned new plaza would introduce new sight lines and possibly breach the lease. Our courtroom legal graphics showed how that occurred.
With careful planning, legal graphics can help any architecture related dispute be understandable and those same legal graphics can help persuade the fact-finder that your position is correct based on the facts and law. This is true whether the architectural dispute relates to design, construction, landlord-tenant issues, insurance coverage, environmental issues or a dispute over a contract.
Other useful resources on A2L Consulting's site related to architecture litigation:
- Construction delay or defect litigation graphics
- Top 5 trial timeline tips
- Environmental litigation graphics