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Effectiveness of Drones in Litigation for Pool Contractors

Effectiveness of Drones in Litigation for Pool Contractors
March 20, 2018 Aqualine Insurance

Sam Houghton and Randy Beard discuss how use of a drone helped a pool contractor win their litigation case…


Sam: Hi, this is Sam Houghton of Aqualine Insurance. Today I have the opportunity to interview Randy Beard. Randy and I have been friends for over twenty years. He is an expert witness in the construction defect litigation process, specifically involving swimming pools. Randy’s going to talk today about the use of drones in construction defect litigation. I think you’ll find this highly interesting.

Randy: We want to photograph, but video right now is huge and when we take a video in a construction litigation case and I’m hired as an expert witness, I get the opportunity to edit and tell the story from the perspective that I want to tell. I get to tell the story the way I want to tell the story. Now there’s other people in the room representing other people that would like to tell the story from their perspective. They are at a massive disadvantage if they don’t video.

Sam: Tell me a good story of where a drone has helped protect a C53 or a builder.

Randy: We just had a case, and it was—not sure if I can mention it. It was a commercial property in Anaheim, Orange County, in the city of Orange. The pool looked beautiful. It was a heavily used commercial pool in a large community, and the pool builder, who is a licensed pool builder but also runs a service company, was being sued by the builder of the complex. The association had sued the builder because the pool deck was falling apart. The pool looked great. Everything that water touched, the plaster, the tile, the coping, looked great.

Now, the person that built the pool, who’s a well-known pool builder in the Orange County environment, was also brought in to take a look at it. When we flew the drone over, the deck was just completely deteriorating, and from the drone’s eye-view of about a hundred feet, we could see that every crack in the deck and the rust followed where the steel was. I fly around the pool with the drone a couple of times, mix in some real close shots. They had poured the deck incorrectly, forcing all of the water and splash-up to move back towards the pool. Well, L.A. County, health, the grading permit, Ron Locker’s plans who engineered, all say that water is to fall away from the pool. Within a five-to-seven-minute video, we walk into arbitration. The builder’s attorneys on the other side, young, handsome guys with Rolex watches and Italian suits and…

Sam: Kind of just like you, Randy [laughter].

Randy: Yes, they’re looking at the fat guy with the long hair across the way. The judge wants to see the video. He doesn’t want to see anybody’s pictures or read anybody’s reports. “Show me the video”, because watching video’s a lot of fun, right? By the time these poor attorneys had to watch my video three times, my story, through video story-telling utilizing a drone—my point was you get so much more value. The picture’s worth a thousand words: video’s worth millions, maybe tens of millions.

Sam: Agreed.