Abstract

“The best way to avoid getting sued is to just do a good job.” These words were spoken by Dr. James E. Slosson in the early 1970s. As State Geologist from 1973 to 1975, Slosson led the California Division of Mines and Geology in producing guidelines for preparation of geologic and related reports that identified minimum levels of professional practice that local agencies could require for site development and building permit applications. In a regulated geology environment, “doing a good job” to some geologists and most purchasers of consulting geology services means “satisfying the minimum requirements at the lowest cost.” Slosson's Law states that the quality of professional service sinks to the lowest level allowed by government. Competition among professional geologists has evolved since the guidelines were produced, in part because of the number of companies offering geologic services, and in part because regulations require geologic evaluations for building permit applications. Regulated geology with stipulated minimum levels of geologic evaluation facilitates lawsuits against consulting engineering geologists. Lawyers solicit homeowners' associations with offers to help finance remodeling projects with construction-defect suits against all consultants and contractors involved with their condominium complexes or subdivisions. Many consultants choose to settle because they believe it is cheaper than defending themselves in court, even if they had nothing to do with any alleged defects. In these situations, simply doing a good job is not enough to avoid getting sued. Doing a good job is still good professional practice, but it has challenges too.

You do not currently have access to this article.