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Technical Background Saves Client from Extensive Remediation Costs and Loss of Revenue

April 11, 2014

In a clear example of how using a lawyer with a technical background can be helpful to a client, Paul M. Schmidt, co-chair of Zarwin Baum’s Environmental Practice Group, recently assisted a client to avoid unnecessary costs and time to remove asbestos-containing building materials. Mr. Schmidt recognized that an asbestos material survey and associated asbestos removal work plan were based on a general analytical process called polarized light microscopy (PLM). PLM only counts fibers, without discriminating whether they are made of asbestos. Mr. Schmidt recommended that previously-sampled building materials be re-analyzed using transmission electron microscopy (TEM), which more precisely determines whether fibers present in a sample are actually made of asbestos. As it turned out, the TEM analysis demonstrated the absence of asbestos or any need to remove building material. As a result, for a few hundred dollars of TEM analysis, the client saved over $30,000 in removal costs, additional costs to access the suspect material and rebuild the space, and the revenue the client would have lost during the asbestos removal work.

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