Dear Mr. Ethics,
A project owner has asked us to come back to a project we completed 3 years ago. The owner is reporting water leaking in through an area of the roof where the mechanical equipment is located. This is a long term client of ours and they want us to help determine where the leak is coming from. My project manager is uneasy about going to the site since it has been so long since project close out. She thinks there may be some risk we are missing if we do as asked. I think we need to aid this client. Which one of us is right?
He Said She Said
You both are right. First let me say you are under no ethical obligation to return to the site as requested by the owner. However, as a long term client you probably have a moral obligation to fulfill the request. Second, your employee is also right. If you return to the site you might be considered as having “opened” your closed contract. A court may see your actions as a continuation of your original contract. As a result the project statute of limitations and the statute of repose will be reset by the court to start running from the date you review the water infiltration problem. This would add another three years to the statutes and your risk exposure. You should advise the owner in writing that you will look at the situation but it is not part of the contract services that closed several years ago. Getting a no cost work order would also avoid opening up the original agreement and allow you to act ethically.
Project Close Out