Bulkhead Failure Insurance Recovery Support


A bulkhead wall failed during redevelopment of a riverfront property in a Southeast port city. The bulkhead was installed to replace an existing deteriorated structure. It was intended to retain the earth supporting existing buildings that were being refurbished and new buildings being constructed along the riverfront.

The bulkhead consisted of steel sheet piles and battered steel H-piles topped by a reinforced concrete pile cap beam. Portions of the sheet pile wall underwent excessive deflections, H-piles rotated out of position, and the concrete cap beam was displaced and fractured. Adjacent piers installed as part of a pedestrian riverwalk expansion were also damaged. The incident required emergency stabilization measures to mitigate the risk of further damage to the site and resulted in project delays while a solution was developed. Errors and omissions in the original design and detailing of the bulkhead were discovered and determined to be the root cause of the failure. The project was covered by a builder’s risk insurance policy that included provisions for recovery of damages associated with design flaws.

CTLGroup was engaged by the site developer to serve as engineering consultants during the builder’s risk insurance recovery process. Our work included assessment of the repair plan developed by the engineer-of-record for the project, which included bulkhead stabilization measures, load reduction, and replacement of failed bulkhead components. We analyzed the cause of the failure and the effect of mobilized earth that was still being supported by the bulkhead. We also differentiated between actions that were necessary to mitigate the loss and facilitate the repair of the bulkhead system versus those may have constituted betterments to the original design. CTLGroup worked closely with the developer’s legal advisors and their insurance claim consultant throughout the process to assist with the many complex aspects of recovering from the failure event.

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