Sacramento Valley Paralegal Association Luncheon

Today I was invited to sit in on the Sacramento Valley Paralegal Association’s monthly CLE luncheon. I was unable to attend, so I sent my right-hand person, Erin Sierchio. Here is her recap of the event:

Nearly 20 SVPA members attended today’s Sacramento Valley Paralegal Association meeting, which was held in the conference room here at Parasec’s Sacramento office. The featured speaker was Gregory Axten, CEO of American Geotechnical, who gave an unexpectedly interesting presentation on "Diagnosing Soil Problems."

Mr. Axten is a civil/geotechnical engineer with more than 37 years of experience in the fields of soil engineering, foundation engineering, geology, materials engineering and hydrology. He has acted as an expert witness for problem analysis and dispute resolution in nearly 100 trials.

One of the interesting tidbits that Axten discussed was the impact landscaping, and trees in particular can have on soil and therefore on structures built nearby. Tree roots can lift foundations and slabs as well as create soil shrinkage so it’s important to consider this when planting them near structures. When determining where to plant trees, Axten suggested that we estimate that the roots will grow to extend out from a tree at a distance equivalent to the tree height, and simply trimming a tree will not stop the roots from growing!

Axten also discussed common indicators of structural problems, such as cracks and separations, slope movement, wall tilt, soil features, seepage and poor drainage. Axten was able to illustrate – in layman’s terms – how analyzing soil samples, investigating damage, and running field and laboratory tests can help determine what caused specific structural damages. It’s his keen eye and expertise in identifying these problems that have led people from the legal community to seek out his assistance with cases.

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