Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Digital Coast Act to be introduced in U.S. Senate, lead Republican cosponsor needed

Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) has delayed introduction of the “Digital Coast Act” in the United States Senate in order to garner more co-sponsors. Already adding their name to the bill are Senators Mark Begich (D-AK), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Angus King (I-ME), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH). Sen. Baldwin has specifically asked NSPS members to contact Republican Senators from coastal or Great Lakes states and urge them to co-sponsor the bill. As noted during the June 30 NSPS Radio Hour with NSPS Government Affairs Consultant John Byrd, members are urged to contact your Senators NOW and request they cosponsor the Digital Coast Act. Call or email your Senators and/or their staff today. View a short NSPS video message on the legislation.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

ALTA/ACSM standards

Please send questions/comments you may have about the standards to NSPS Executive Director Curt Sumner via email at curtis.sumner@nsps.us.com.  Responses will be posted in NSPS News and Views. 

We have  some questions  regarding the extent to which a Survey should extend related to Table A Item No. 20. We understand that each survey is unique, although the way we interpret the wording for Item No. 20, the Survey could possibly extend for miles depending on the circumstance. We were wondering if there have been any other questions or discussions related to this item that may be able to clear any confusion up on our part. 


Although an appurtenant easement (i.e., an insured easement listed in Schedule A, that provides benefit to a parcel of land) which extends for miles and miles probably isn’t too likely to occur, it is of course possible. 

Out-lots to Malls are probably the best example.  The entire mall parcel may be appurtenant to the out-lot. 

This question comes up every now and then in seminars. The advice given is “if the surveyor thinks the associated work is extensive, ask questions of the client, lender, and title company for clarification, and explain the additional fees associated with the scope of work involved”. 

Like all other Table A items, the extent of the work to be accomplished in Item 20 is entirely up to the client and the surveyor to work out through dialog, consultations with other affected parties (lender, title company, etc.), and perhaps negotiation. Once an understanding is reached, the “written” contract must clearly identify what has been negotiated, and what the cost will be.

As an aside, it has been suggested that perhaps the next version of the ALTA/ACSM standards (due for review in 2016) should include dollar signs ($) in front of each Table A item to automatically alert the client/solicitor-of-the-surveying-services that additional cost is associated with selecting the item.

Monday, June 9, 2014

NSPS Adds Communications Tool

The National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS) continues to search for ways to make interaction with its members more accessible and user friendly. GeoLearn, LLC, a communications/educational outlet recently developed by Joe Paiva and Bob Morris, has agreed to assist NSPS in this effort by occasionally providing in NSPS News & Views links to video interviews on matters of interest to the surveying profession.

The first in the series is an interview with NSPS ALTA/ACSM Committee Chair Gary Kent. In addition to general comments about the periodic review of the ALTA/ACSM standards, Gary briefly discusses the misuse by clients (and others) of “copies” of survey plats they request.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Surveyors Historical Society to dedicate Osgood Bilby Tower

Many surveyors may have never seen a Bilby Tower, nor perhaps know what it is, but the pieces of an abandoned tower discovered in Louisiana have been reassembled/erected in Osgood, Indiana, hometown of Jasper Bilby, the man who invented it.

A ceremony to be conducted by the Surveyors Historical Society on June 14, 2014 will include a presentation on the history of NGS/USC&GS and the Bilby Tower, a panel discussion among current and past tower builders/observers, and a formal dedication in honor of Bilby.

The passion and dedication felt by the many people who participated in the entire endeavor to get the tower from Louisiana to Osgood is exemplified by the remarks of Joe Lindsey who says, “my considerable Osgood Bilby Tower involvement and commitment began in the fall of 2012. It continued through the second week of October, 2013, culminating in the successful tower assembly. It was a substantial sacrifice of which I was honored and privileged to have participated. The team work and camaraderie created  an outstanding experience.”

Read more about Bibly Towers.

Louisiana Surveyors Make Plea for Donations of Blood for Fellow Surveyor

Joe Marques (Dading Marques & Associates) underwent liver transplant surgery on Thursday, May 15, 2014 at the Ochsner Hospital,  and is in desperate need of blood donors. The medical team is having difficulty stopping the bleeding. He has undergone only the first part of the surgery. The bleeding must be under control before proceeding with connecting the bile duct to the new liver. He has depleted the Ochsner Blood Bank supply, having used over 100 units of blood. If the blood is not replaced the family will be billed in excess of $500.00 per unit.  A blood drive for Joe’s direct blood replacement can be set up if fifty (50) people are willing to donate

This is a plea to anyone and everyone out there who is willing and able to donate blood. This act of kindness and compassion for the aid of Joe and his family will be greatly appreciated. If you find that this is something you are willing to do, please be sure that it goes to the account of Joe Marques who is presently at Ochsner Hospital’s main campus on Jefferson Highway in Jefferson, LA.

Any donation may be credited to Joe’s account, provided the place where the donation occurs participates in transfers. The physical location of the donation isn't of the utmost importance, however the following information is needed when donating:
Patient:  Joe Marques
Facility:  Ochsner Health System
               1514 Jefferson Highway
               New Orleans, LA 70121

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Ask Vic!

Question: Our surveying firm has 20 employees. We were recently approached by a civil engineering firm, which has engaged our firm in the past, with a proposal that the two firms form a joint venture to respond to a Request for Proposals from a county agency so that the joint venture can present the resources of both firms to the client. We have never formed a joint venture before. What are some of the issues that we need to consider?

In a joint venture, each party is entirely responsible to the client, and to any third party, for the actions of the other joint venturer. Although a carefully drafted joint venture agreement may set up a framework for the distribution of liability between the joint venturers, that framework cannot insulate a firm from all risks; nothing in a joint venture agreement can limit the separate liability of joint venturers to a third party.

Although there are standard contract forms to establish the legal and practice aspects of joint ventures, many design professionals approach a joint venture on a far too casual basis. In most states, if a contract is signed by more than one entity or by a joint venture representing more than one entity, the firms become jointly and severally responsible under the terms of that contract. They assume the business risks inherent in the contractual agreement and, more importantly, from a professional liability perspective, they assume responsibility for the negligence of the other joint venturers. Whether firms attempt to use language such as “in association with” or “as part of the design team consisting of,” the result in almost every case is the same—responsibility for the other party without any real authority or ability to control the other party’s actions.

From a professional liability insurance perspective, it makes far more sense to provide services through a more traditional arrangement, with a prime design professional and a subconsultant. Forming a joint venture with another design professional or with a non-professional firm can create problems of insurability and liability. In the traditional scenario, the prime signs the contract and is completely responsible for the performance of the duties of the agreement, including those that might be delegated through subconsultant agreements to other design professionals. The subconsultants are only responsible for their own actions. This provides a much clearer understanding of duties and obligations and an articulated distribution of risk.

If a firm does want to proceed with a joint effort, it should consider forming a separate entity for the venture. In many states, a joint effort can be established as a limited liability partnership or corporation. While such a business form does not limit the liability of a participating firm for its own negligence, the firm may be protected from the negligence of the other participating firm or firms. The non-negligent firm’s stake in the limited liability entity is still at risk for the negligence of any participant.

Limited liability companies may provide an excellent form for pursuing design-build projects and other opportunities where a non-professional firm may be involved. Local legal counsel can provide advice on the formation of limited liability entities and other forms of cooperative business ventures.

Do you have a question regarding an insurance or practice management issue? Email your question to AskVic@Schinnerer.com and look for your answer in a future issue of the NSPS News & Views weekly newsletter. Victor O. Schinnerer & Company, Inc., is the underwriting manager for the CNA professional liability program, and has a longstanding relationship with NSPS.

Monday, May 19, 2014

NSPS Radio Hour — May 19, 11 a.m. EDT

Join host Curt Sumner and his guests from the California Board of Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, and Geologists (BPELSG). Ric Moore PLS, Executive Director, and Ray Mathe PLS, Senior Registrar Land Surveyor, will discuss a variety of issues, including the first survey laws requiring a record of survey, and a recently discovered document dated 1891 which is thought to be the first license issued in the United States for a Land Surveyor.

If you are unable to listen to the show when it is being broadcasted, listen to the archive of the show at http://www.radiosandysprings.com/showpages/ACSM.php. Archives for each show are typically available for listening within a few days after the show airs.

During the show, listen for the "key question" and be the first to email the correct answer to
quikstakescontest@americaswebradio.com to win a $50 gift certificate from our sponsor, Parker Davis Quik Stakes. No purchase is required to receive the gift certificate. Winners limited to once every three months.