Saskatchewan engineer suspended for designing a highway bridge that collapsed within hours of opening

On September 14, 2018, the Dyck Memorial Bridge in the RM of Clayton officially opened. A few hours later, the bridge collapsed. Luckily, no one was injured. The bridge was designed by Scott Gullacher, a is professional engineer with  10 years’ experience.

The collapse of the bridge led to  the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Saskatchewan (APEGS) considering five counts of professional misconduct in relation to six bridge projects. The Hearing Panel ultimately determined that the engineer was guilty of three counts of professional misconduct.

Gullacher testified at his discipline hearing that he has incurred $250,000 in out-of-pocket expenses to repair the bridge. He apologized to the affected stakeholders in this matter. Gullacher and his companies also face multiple lawsuits.

APEGS suspended Gullacher for 18 months and prohibited him from practising professional engineering involving bridge projects for a further five years following his suspension. It also ordered that Gullacher must pay a fine of $15,000 and pay investigation and hearing cost of $32,000.

Key Takeaways

Professional engineers have an obligation to ensure public safety and maintain the profession’s reputation. Professionals who practice in areas that are beyond their knowledge and expertise, will suffer serious financial and legal consequences.

MLT Aikins has extensive experience working with regulated professionals – including  engineers, doctors, dentists, optometrists, pharmacists, chiropractors and veterinarians – on managing their practice, growing their business, and ensuring they uphold the standards of their profession. We have advised a wide variety of professionals on their compliance obligations and have represented them in enforcement matters with regulators and professional bodies, as well as disputes with clients. Contact one of our Regulated Professionals team members to learn more.

Note: This article is of a general nature only and is not exhaustive of all possible legal rights or remedies. In addition, laws may change over time and should be interpreted only in the context of particular circumstances such that these materials are not intended to be relied upon or taken as legal advice or opinion. Readers should consult a legal professional for specific advice in any particular situation.