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Nevada top court considers expert testimony in CityCenter case

As the business litigation over the failed Harmon Hotel project on the Las Vegas Strip is headed to trial, one of the judge’s rulings is being considered by the state’s top court. The Nevada Supreme Court heard oral arguments on June 4 over whether an expert witness used by one of the parties acted fairly in assessing whether the general contractor is responsible for problems in the building’s structure and materials.

We have previously discussed this business litigation between MGM Resorts International and Tutor Perini Building Corp. in this blog, most recently on Feb. 10. Construction never was completed on the Harmon after steel reinforcements in the building’s structure were found to be dangerously flawed. MGM says that Tutor Perini negligently caused the material problems. The lawsuit involves up to $500 million in claimed damages.

Among the many rulings the trial court has issued ahead of the trial, which is expected to begin in 2014, is one excluding the testimony of an engineer hired by MGM to evaulate the materials of the half-completed building. After Tutor Perini objected that the expert witness did not randomly pick where to test the materials, the judge ruled that his analysis will not be allowed in court.

MGM appealed that ruling to the Supreme Court. In oral arguments, attorneys for the company said that the engineer tested areas that were structurally important without being told where the defective materials were. The contractor contended that the engineer’s testing was not random and was desgined to make the material defects problem seem worse than it is.

The Court did not issue a ruling following the hearing. It is not clear when the justices will do so.

Source: VEGAS INC, “After hearing, Nevada Supreme Court weighing decisions on Harmon Hotel’s fate,” Bethany Barnes, June 4, 2013

John P. Aldrich
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