Unrecognized Confined Space Hazards

Confined space

By: Expert No. 353399, ASP, CHMM, CET, CHCM, CHST, B.Sc.  A breaking news story conveys tragic results of yet another confined space fatality incident. With increases in industrial and construction activity, entry into confined space has become a more frequent workplace task. Fatality statistics indicates that over 60 percent of rescues in confined space result in a … Continued

The Water Below: Water Vapor and Concrete Slabs

By Expert No. 159616


Poet Rupert Brooke once wrote that good shall come of water. He obviously never dealt with concrete. One of the lesser known yet more frustrating sources of water damage can occur on a concrete slab on grade. A concrete slab on grade is a flat area of concrete, poured directly on the earth or water membrane. This is where flooring – wood, carpet, tile, – is laid in residential construction.

Moisture Problems Plague Flooring from Concrete Slabs on Grade

Water or water vapor rising out of a concrete slab on grade can cause adhesion loss, warping, peeling and an unacceptable appearance of resilient floor coverings.  Beneath seamed, continuous flooring, moisture can also cause adhesive deterioration, ripping or separation of seams and air bubbles or efflorescence deposits.  Other harmful effects include damage to flat electrical cable systems, buckling of carpet or carpet tiles, odors, and fungi growth.

Tips to Survive Destructive Testing

By Expert No. 159616


Destructive testing is much like exploratory surgery – intrusive, expensive, uncomfortable, inconvenient and the last resort for determining the cause of a problem.  Every effort should be made prior to destructive testing to evaluate the nature of the complaint.  And like surgery, the expert conducting the destructive testing should know what he is looking for and be prepared for whatever he may find.  This is because destructive testing, if not handled properly by attorneys and their experts, can accomplish little and may actually damage a plaintiff’s case.

Is it a good idea for engineering expert witnesses to “complete the loop”?

By Expert No. 319207



As engineers, we like to think that we are doing some service to society by getting involved in lawsuits and helping to sort out engineering truth from engineering fiction.  We also like to think that, somewhere, somehow, for some reason, somebody is paying attention to our expert opinions and changing the way they do business to correct design, construction or operational flaws.  Then again, the lawsuit may settle without anyone learning from the mistakes.

STANDARD OF CARE: What Standard, Who Cares?

By Expert No. 164453



A hundred years ago, one man could master the cumulative medical knowledge of all humanity. Today, one man could spend a lifetime reading the new findings published in a single year. We doctors learn it ‘all’ in medical school. But, of course, that is not enough. We must keep up with the continuing flow of new data. How do practicing physicians manage the torrential onslaught of new information inherent in the modern age? How do they find and learn the information?  How do they integrate new findings into their daily activity? How often does this happen? What mechanisms for learning are there?

The Whistleblower and the RIA

By Expert No. 361382



Most people are quite familiar with Broker-Dealers — wirehouses such as Morgan Stanley Smith Barney or Merrill Lynch. The broker-dealer is essentially a sales organization that charges clients either a transactional commission or utilizes a fee in lieu of commission platform. The minimal threshold of “suitability” is the established standard for products offered to investors. Advice is considered incidental to investment.

Delineation in Construction

By Expert No. 53885



One small construction task could place your company in financial and legal distress. This one task I am speaking of is delineation. You could be the best general contractor, and have placed hundreds of miles of asphalt roadways and the forgetfulness of missing an edge line or centerline could put your company at financial risk.

Do You Really Know What “As Is” Is?

By Expert No. 56901, MBA



Most standard real estate contracts for existing construction sales, now have a clause included, which states that the property is sold “as is” or “in present condition.” In questioning both buyers, sellers, and real estate sales agents, it is apparent that there exists some confusion regarding this term.

Origins of Some Common Internal Medicine Conditions Putting Stress into Perspective

By Expert No. 323128, M.D.



Despite the wealth of research and clinical information available these days about various health conditions, it still amazes me how often people speak about stress as the basis for many illnesses. That perception forms an accepted premise often utilized in advertising schemes for various vitamins, supplements, and other promoted cures for stress.

Don’t Let Contractors Be Wimps

By Expert No. 169205



Trusting contractors often complete additional work without written approval and then don’t get paid for it. They know they are required to get change orders signed and approved prior to doing the work…but, why don’t they?

Profitable Employment Practices Help Employers Reduce Litigation and Increase Productivity

By Expert No. 173185, Esq.


Unfortunately, employing people today is a risky and complicated business. Yet despite the serious risks, without contributions from a skilled and dedicated workforce, no business can succeed. Employers of all sizes and types have adopted and benefited from six employment-related, profitable “best employment practices” to solve this apparent dilemma.

The War on Lead


By Expert No. 9027, Ph.D., P.E , Mechanical Engineer


Billions of dollars from property owners, businesses and tax payer funds have been wasted in
the last two decades chasing a problem that simply does not exist. The scientific community
needs to continually educate homeowners, landlords, tenants, our legislators and the Real- Estate
Industry that the Lead issue is a country wide success story and not a toxic threat (lead poisoning
of children has fallen dramatically in the last 25 years.)

A Note on Head Acceleration During Low Speed Rear-End Collisions


By Expert No. 43224, Ph.D., and Sylvian Poncet



This paper presents a simple relationship between a vehicle’s acceleration and the occupant’s head acceleration during low speed rear-end collisions. Only experimental data obtained from tests performed on human volunteers, is used to establish the relationship. It was found that the head acceleration, on the average, is at least two and a half times larger than vehicle’s acceleration.

More Hype Than Hope

How conservation evaporates ethanol’s benefits for cars

By Expert No. 28193, Ph.D.

The sharp increase in crude oil prices during the past year created an urgent need to search for alternative sources of transportation fuels. Ethanol emerged as the primary candidate to replace a part of the gasoline pool used for transportation. Ethanol can be produced from carbohydrates which are abundantly present in nature as key structural and functional constituents of plants. Carbohydrates come in a great variety including simple sugars, most prominently glucose, and in more complex forms such as starch and cellulose, which consist of several thousand interconnected glucose units. Ethanol production from complex carbohydrates is a two-step process: first the carbohydrate structure has to be broken down to its simple sugar units which in turn need to be converted to ethanol by fermentation. Starch can be converted to ethanol with relative ease while other carbohydrates such as cellulose are more resistant to ethanol conversion. Factors influencing commercial scale ethanol production include availability of the renewable source material in sufficient quantities, efficient means of conversions to ethanol, attractive pricing conditions, government subsidies and tax incentives.

Three Rules for Forensic Real Estate Damage Valuation: Deductive, Adductive, or Reductive Rule? (analysis)

By Expert No. 96877 and Expert No. 47300


Forensic Valuation: What Is It?

Forensic real estate valuation is the application of economic principles and methodologies to answer questions of fact as to whether real estate values have suffered a permanent damage. Forensic real estate valuation contrasts with the prevailing valuation theory in the real estate industry that often fails to distinguish permanent loss from the following:

Construction Delay Analysis Methods

By Expert No. 51241

Construction projects often suffer from delays due to a wide variety of reasons, which can have severe financial impact on the project. As a result, delay claims may be filed. The analysis of the delay impact with the causes and effects of the delaying activities is one of the most complicated types of claims analysis. It requires an expert with extensive knowledge of construction projects, means and methods, scheduling and the ability to develop a sound methodology to conduct the analysis. Most of these delay claims reach the expert after completion of the project. This results in a detailed intensive research of the documents to verify schedules, events, sequence of work, changes during construction and the delay impact.

Remediation of a Groundwater Problem Caused by Construction of a Housing Development

By Expert No. 45117, PE


Problem History

For the past 16 years, a client has been the owner of a residential property in the Sierra Foothills of Northern California. The client noticed that without supplemental irrigation, portions of his property were wet and green during the summer months. His house and granny flat septic systems were water logged and effluent was reaching the ground surface. The greening and septic problems coincided with the completion of a large development and construction of housing directly adjacent to his property.

After notifying the developer, the owner received a letter from the developer stating there is no evidence that development has acerbated the moisture problems on his property. After discussions between the property owner and the developer, the developer agreed to hire an expert acceptable to both parties. However, the developer never released the report to the owner.

No Construction Claims — Guaranteed!!

By Expert No. 9103 & Troy Vernon Sutton

We have all learned that the three most important aspects of real estate are Location, Location, Location! In construction, the three most important aspects to successful resolution of issues are Documentation, Documentation, Documentation!

We were recently asked about methods for minimizing construction claims. The project managers were all ears when told that we have discovered a method that would guarantee no claims on their next project. Our “No Claims” method simply requires:

Time Value of Money— The Discount Rate ‘Controversy’: Much Ado About Nothing

By Expert No. 9025, Ph.D.

I have been attacked by the opposing expert for not using the yield of Treasury Bonds. Using short-term Treasury securities (T-Bills) is justified to remove inflation/interest rate risk that may occur with longer term Treasuries (bonds). It is not usually financially prudent to ‘lock-in’ to a Treasury Bond yield when future interest rates are expected to rise due to inflation. Further, the yield on Treasuries can change from the time when the report was written to the conclusion of trial. Using some historic average of shorter-term Treasuries provides this needed flexibility.

The Peculiar Construction Industry!

By Expert No. 8858, P.E.

What a crazy business the construction industry is. Many contractors are, underneath it all, gamblers betting a lot of blue chips. The work is complicated, it is usually awarded to the lowest bidder who will use every means to reduce costs and increase profit. Each job is unique and the principal participants, the general contractor and subcontractors usually are different on each project, thus one is dealing with a different organization and group of people on each project. Often jobs will run over a period of one or more years with the changes in material prices and labor costs, as well as availability of them, being a moving target. Outside forces such as zoning or permitting, over which the parties have little or no control, often influence performance adversely. It is no wonder that so many projects end up with disputes that require resolution. While work obtained on a negotiated basis has the advantage of often using the same general contractor, often the subcontractors will differ from job to job, again introducing an unknown into the project performance. Apart from that, where disputes arise there are different forums for resolution, including dispute review boards, mediation, mini-trials, arbitration, bench trials and full blown jury trials each of which require a different approach. Couple all of this with boxes and boxes of documents being produced during discovery and the problem becomes even more complex. With such a mix it is easy to understand why a busy attorney would wish some added assistance.

Defective Fasteners Drive Structural Failures

By Expert No. 43088, Ph.D., P.E.



Many structural failures, from ladders to airframes, are caused by defective mechanically-fastened joints, resulting from either poor fastener manufacturing quality or improper installation. Many fastener specifications permit up to 4% defectives per batch, many of which may be missed by the installer. Fasteners installed out-of-grip and poor hole preparation also account for many of the defective joints. Additionally, published joint allowables may not reflect field conditions with respect to hole preparation, hole size, or panel strength. As a result, actual joints may have inadequate safety margins. These defective installations form the locus for eventual failure.

Engineering Underground Pipeline Safety

By Expert No. 47246, P. E. (Retired/Inactive) 


Background And Statistics

Petroleum Products

Each day in the United States we use millions of gallons of crude oil to maintain our living and lifestyles. A 2004 study Economic Energy Report on oil production and consumption, has listed the amount of world’s daily production of oil at about 76 million barrels per day. According to the report, the United States uses 20 million barrels of oil daily. This is an enormous quantity of energy use in this country.

Conservation Easements, the Good, the Bad and the Greedy

By Expert No. 47300, A.S.A.

The basic concept is easy to grasp. This is a simple compound of conservation, as defined in the particular circumstance, and easement, a property right conveyed to a private conservation organization or government. The effect is similar to CC&Rs (codicils, covenants and restrictions) but applied to land after its original subdivision, if any, and monitored by an outside entity rather than the similarly affected neighbors. Over the last couple generations urbanization and sprawl have distanced people from “the country”. While few denizens of the suburbs yearn for the “real” country life; hard work, long hours, strong smells and real dirt, many if not most appreciate its open vistas, green growing things and perhaps wild or domestic animals. So here is a tool for preserving that quality of life. How did it become a timely one?

Analysis of Computer Games for Violence Potential

By Expert No. 41697, Psy.D. RNCS

Suicide and Law Enforcement Conference Federal Bureau of Investigation
Quantico, Virginia — September 20-25, 1999

When psychologists evaluate an individual, they use external data, such as school, military and hospital records, personal diaries, and drawings in addition to interviewing the person directly. In fact, there are several tests used that ask a person to draw specific figures, which are evaluated as products of his mind, and as a reflection of his inner world. With the advent of computer technology we have a new data set to be evaluated during the course of an investigation. Computer games are wildly popular, and yet have been overlooked. After all, “…it’s only a game…”

Well, these games represent an important glimpse inside the mind of the suspect. The games can be a direct product of an individual’s thinking, of his state of mind. Just as we would use drawings, diaries or other personal products, we should be using personal computer game information, whenever available, to add to our body of knowledge about a suspect.

Excavation and Trenching Safety

By Expert No. 8901, P.E., C.I.H., C.S.P.

Excavation and trenching may present substantial risk of injury to person working in the excavation or adjacent to the edge. Safety guidelines have been developed through years of experience working with and in excavation. Many of these guidelines have been adopted by OSHA and have been made mandatory for all trenching and excavating activities.


Many jurisdictions require a permit before commencing large excavation activities to ensure the safety not only of the workers but also of the community. The permit notifies the regulatory agency of the excavation activity and requires the organization doing the digging to place a competent and knowledgeable person in charge of the dig. The permit may be specific for a single excavation or may be issued on an annual basis for a firm that does many excavations.

Internal Corrosion of Plumbing


By Expert No. 8966, PE

Among a homeowner’s more traumatic experiences, especially if the home is fairly new, ranks the telltale wet spot on the living room carpet (if the plumbing is in the slab), or the soggy bits of not-so-dry-wall (if the plumbing runs overhead.) An inspection is likely to reveal more than just a single trouble spot, and the usual verdict is an expensive replumbing job. The homeowner is upset and wants to be made whole, so he sues the most likely culprit – the water company. After all, it was the water that caused the problem. Or was it not?

The corrosion engineer, in trying to determine the most probable cause of a plumbing system failure, must look for, not just one, but two factors: 1) What initiated the problem, and 2) what propagated it.

Investigating Concrete-Related Problems In Construction Defect Cases

Many investigations related to construction involve the use of concrete; and, frequently, it seems that the concrete is not performing as anticipated. Such problems often are related to cracking of the concrete, but cracking is usually only the most visible manifestation of a problem.

The adjacent figure shows crack patterns on concrete panels that are the results of field research performed in Southern California some years ago. This research showed that once concrete is placed directly on a polyethylene membrane, it will crack at a later age with almost no regard to subsequent effort to cure the concrete. This research was submitted as part of a condition survey that resulted in the settlement of a claim by the owner for remediation of the improperly installed material.

Is Mold Causing Your Indoor Air Quality Problem?

Is Mold Causing Your Indoor Air Quality Problem?

By Expert No. 8901, PE, CIH, CSP, REA

We have all seen molds on food or paper products (books, bathroom walls, etc.). These visible manifestations are only indicators of potential problem. The problem is actually not seen by the naked eye. It is the reproductive result of these indicators that is of concern.

Molds and yeasts are grouped under a heading of fungus (plural, fungi). Fungus is a primitive plant form that does not contain chlorophyll. Fungi must have a source of food and water to grow. Where there is sufficient food and water, fungi grow and multiply at an astounding rate. It is this growth rate that is one of two conditions for concern. Many fungi grow by expelling (1) spores or (2) small bits of growth material, into the air for creation of colonies in other areas. If these spores or growth material are created in air handling systems for instance, they can be part of the air we breath and can find their way into our bodies, impacting our immune system. The second condition is the dormant stage of fungi. Long after the water has been removed (remember food and moisture are required for growth), colonies can remain quasi-dormant: that is, spores can become air borne by disturbance such as pulling affected books off a shelf, cleaning carpets with a vacuum, removing wall board from affected areas, etc. When this happens, spores can be released and inhaled into the respiratory system where it is moist and may have food sources.

Quality Control Deflects Construction Defects

By Expert No. 27024, AIA

Construction defects and subsequent litigation can stem from many different sources. During a construction project, quality is the most important aspect to concentrate on to mitigate defects. A primary contributor to quality is the level of craftsmanship that is employed and the quality of materials that are used as well as the various assemblies that make up the project. The experience and the professionalism of the parties involved also have considerable influence on the quality of the project. On average, there are approximately 58 different subcontractors. Unless there are sufficient proactive quality control measures, e.g., third party review, implemented throughout the construction process and the management provided by the builder itself, construction defects may result. Below is a list of the most basic and most common defects for which experts can help.

Shopping For A Car Or Truck? – Think Safety


By Expert No. 40237, P.E.

Large Vs. Small

Whether purchasing a new or used vehicle, safety should be considered along with utility, comfort, price and style. After the use or non-use of seat belts, the single most important factor in determining your chance of getting killed or seriously injured in an accident is your vehicle’s weight. In fact, an extra 300 pounds of vehicle weight improves your chances of survival as much as an air bag. Try to avoid smaller vehicles, especially those weighing less than 3,000 pounds. This choice will cost more at the gas pump and might offend your sense of environmental responsibility, but it could save your life.

Simulation, Reconstruction, And Biomechanical Analysis Of Motorcycle Crashes

Analysis Of Motorcycle Crashes

By Expert No. 33219, Ph.D.

The major objective of this research was to use motorcycle and rider models in a crash simulation to identify injury mechanisms, injury trends, and injury potential to motorcyclists in one particular type of collision. MADYMO (MAthematical DYnamic MOdel), a commercially available software program, was used to construct and analyze realistic motorcycle crash scenarios in an effort to understand the dynamics of the motorcycle-rider system. Modification strategies were also investigated, which mainly involved identifying possible injury trends based on changes in motorcycle geometry. Validation of the models used was previously performed (motorcycle validation by Neiboer et al, 1993, and MATD validation via ISO 13232) using proven scientific biomechanical and collision analysis procedures.

The Effect of Winter Rains on the Stability of Slopes

By Expert No. 42777, R.G., C.E.G.

Although this winter has been relatively mild, last year’s devastating landslides such as Bluebird Canyon and the La Conchita resulted in millions of dollars of property damage and several deaths. These failures, and thousands of other smaller failures, have resulted in insurance claims and legal actions that will be supported by attorneys and experts for years to come.

This article will serve as a primer on the general types and causes of slope failures and the role that geologist’s provide as investigative consultants.

When is a Crack or Discoloration of an Asphalt Pavement a True Defect?

Asphalt Pavement Cracks and Discoloratin

By Expert No. 8937, PE

A shopping center owner recently sued a paving contractor who had performed some asphalt repairs and maintenance for the prior owner. They alleged that the distressed conditions at the present time were due to improper work done by this Contractor several years earlier. This very large shopping center was designed with sufficient grade that the water flowed quite rapidly over the surface to the collection area. From there, it flowed to the storm drain catch basins. However, when it was constructed, no concrete swale or gutter was installed to carry the water from the collection points to the catch basins, and the water had to flow over the surface of the asphalt concrete.

What is a Hazardous Material?

By Expert No. 8901, P.E., C.I.H., C.S.P.

Whether a material is hazardous depends on who you ask and why. Various governmental programs have different criteria on what constitutes a hazardous substance. Most lists of hazardous materials include substances with hazardous properties such as toxic, flammable, corrosive, or reactive.

The Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) identifies hazardous materials as any material that is toxic, flammable, corrosive, or reactive, or otherwise listed as hazardous by the Administrator.

The Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) defines hazardous material as substance or material that poses an unreasonable risk to health, safety, and property when transported in commerce, and includes hazardous substances, hazardous wastes, marine pollutants, and elevated temperature materials.