The truth is TSPE lost on all counts but one, and that one claim was so insignificant that it made no difference to the issue at hand. Let’s start with what they won. The court agreed with the engineers that TBAE shouldn’t have included a statement in one of their educational pamphlets that said “Engineers may not engage in the same activities as architects” because that statement doesn’t reference the fact that there are certain exemptions where an engineer can design buildings that fall below the certain threshold (i.e., 20,000 square feet for commercial buildings or the dollar thresholds of $100,000 on public projects). The same goes for another statement in that same pamphlet that said “Simply put, our position is this: In Texas, architectural plans and specifications require the seal of a licensed architect.” Again, it depends. If the plans and specifications fall under the thresholds required by law, then technically that statement is wrong, even though the Court acknowledged that TBAE did reference the exemptions when the document was read as a whole.
So, mea culpa, TBAE was slapped on the hand by the Court, asked to clarify that there are certain exceptions in the Architects Practice Act, but all TBAE needed to do was specifically reference those exceptions in those statements. There was a bunch of legalese used to explain that concept, but that in a nutshell is what happened. So, what did the engineers get out of that “favorable” ruling? Next to nothing. The Court’s action simply required the pamphlet to reference the exemptions that exist today. I say “So what?” That’s not a win. They gained nothing. The law is still the same and the Court affirmed it. The Court did nothing, I mean n-o-t-h-i-n-g, to expand those exemptions to allow engineers the authority to practice architecture beyond the thresholds that exist today.
Now let’s talk about what the engineers lost, and lost big time. And, please don’t take my opinion as gospel either, click here to read the Court’s findings. The Court ruled in favor of TBAE on all other substantive claims. The Court said that TBAE’s rules, including the rule which delineates when an architect is required on a project and when an architect must prepare the architectural plans, are valid and consistent with statutory law, DESPITE the engineers’ claim to the contrary. The Court also said that professional engineers are not categorically exempt from the Architects Practice Act, DESPITE the engineers claim to the contrary. Those claims were shot down…clean and simple. The whole lawsuit was filed because the engineers want the authority to practice architecture beyond the exemptions and the Court said a resounding “No.” So who won the lawsuit? I say: there’s no question that TBAE came out the winner which means the architects law was upheld which means engineers cannot, may not, should not practice architecture unless they’re doing it below the thresholds….and that’s the truth!