Serving professionals in engineering, environmental,
and groundwater geology since 1957

***Tuesday, April 8th***
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Topic: "Homeowner Slope Repairs-Professional Duty or Liability Snake Pit?"

Speaker: Hugh Robertson, R.G., C.E.G.,
President and Principal Geologist, Robertson Geotechnical, Inc.

Location: Airtel Plaza Hotel,
7277 Valjean Avenue, Van Nuys, CA 91406
(818) 997-7676
Time: 6:00 p.m.-Social Hour; 7:00 p.m.-Dinner; 7:45 p.m.-Presentation
Cost: $48 per person with reservations, $53 without reservations, $15 with a valid Student ID.
Carpooling is encouraged.
Reservations: Please e-mail Peter Thams at

Los Angeles is periodically hit with abnormally high rainfall that adversely affects stability of graded and natural slopes in older residential hillside communities. Failures vary from nuisance to hazardous conditions requiring repair. The affected homeowners enter unfamiliar territory that is costly and frustrating. They look to City/County agencies for help but are met with citations and orders demanding immediate repair. Few geotechnical consultants are available as the more experienced consultants recognize the high liability associated with slope repairs. Those willing to help enter a snake pit of liability, created by their colleagues and the review agencies. Examples from the Los Angeles area highlight how limited homeowner's budgets for exploration and repair, coupled with agency requirements, expose geotechnical consultants to high liability while trying to serve client's needs and meet the standard of care. A risk free, code conforming slope repair is rarely economically feasible and rarely implemented. Disclosing the limitations and explaining the compromises in the geotechnical report cause difficulties in obtaining agency approval. This creates a liability hot potato tossed between the homeowner, the agency and the consultant. The consultant could ultimately bear the liability burden if the slope again experiences problems in subsequent wet winters. In order to assist the community, the consultant and the review agency must compromise on adequate exploration and repair approaches and these compromises must be accepted as standard of care by the geotechnical community. A reasonable remedial repair must improve the condition, be cost effective, and reduce the risk to the owners.
Speaker Brief Biography:
Hugh Robertson is the Founder, President and Principal Geologist of Robertson Geotechnical, Inc. in Westlake Village, California. He has over thirty-four years of experience as a Project and Principal Engineering Geologist in the Southern California Area. His expertise has been applied to mass grading, slope stability, settlement, expansive soil movement, landslide stabilization, erosion, debris protection, hillside grading, seismic studies, and private sewage disposal problems. He has performed numerous geologic and geotechnical site investigations throughout Southern California, has served on numerous advisory and legislative committees, and has lectured part time at USC. He has also been chairman of the Southern California Section of AEG.