Case Study: Unlicensed Petroleum Engineering Experts May Gush on the Stand, Even If Law Caps Testimony

Petroleum engineer

The owner of the gas rights in a shallow zone brought action against the owner of the gas rights in deep zone of a specific Mississippi property.  The claim was that the shallow zone owner had a legitimate ownership interest in these rights and asserted conversion and negligence against owner of the deep zone. The Supreme Court of Mississippi held inter alia that as a matter of first impression, the statute making it unlawful to practice engineering in state without a license did not preclude an out-of-state engineering expert from testifying at trial.

Hydraulic Fracking: Why It’s Newsworthy and the Role of Expert Witnesses

Hydrolic fracking

Hydrauling fracking (also known as “fracturing”) has been a practice of fossil fuel providers for decades.  It has been in practice since 1949, and analysts estimate that globally, some 60% of new oil or gas reservoirs and wells were located and mined using hydraulic fracking technology. Montgomery, Carl T. & Smith, Michael B. “Hydraulic fracturing. History of an enduring technology,” Society of Petroleum Engineers 26–41 (2010-12-105).  Recently, however, a controversy has arisen between the benefits of the fracking process and its potential environmental implications.  Legislation, proposed legislation, and litigation have ensued, all echoing a certain call: that the legal community is in dire need of an educated understanding of fracking, and expert witnesses are the very people to give us that lesson.

Understanding the Industrial Engineering Industry

In order to find an engineering expert witness, it’s vital for attorneys to understand that the industrial engineering industry is multi-faceted. In addition to there being several types of industrial engineers, there are manifold career paths that might lead an engineer to expert qualification.

SECB Calls for National Structural Engineering Certification

Structural engineering as a discipline is becoming increasingly complex. However, there are currently only 10 U.S. states that require any form of specific certification for structural engineers.

According to Jon Schmidt, Associate Structural Engineer and Director of Antiterrorism Services at Burns & McDonnell and Chair of the Editorial Board of STRUCTURE Magazine, “In today’s world of complex structures and 3D modeling, structural engineering is a partnership among architects, contractors and engineering firms. The structural engineer must be able to offer insightful and pragmatic suggestions, and doing that requires strong technical knowledge, depth of experience and problem-solving abilities that have been well-honed over time.”

How to Interview an Engineering Expert Witness

Engineering experts can offer vital litigation support and can help sway a judge and jury in your client’s favor based on the strong and objective technical analysis of the issues of your case. However, when you are considering retaining an engineering expert witness, it is paramount that you ascertain, not only his experience testifying as an engineering expert, but also his experience that is relevant to your specific case.