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RE: [SEAOC] Re: Ethical Responsibility and the Engineering License

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First of all check if the engineer of record's company is still in 
business. If that is the case, share your findings with them. If you can't 
find anyone, then share your findings with the owner. In all cases, do not 
keep it to yourself. You will then be responsible for someone's mistake. 
One other note, make all you communication in writing. That way it stays in 
file and can become an important piece of evidence should there be a 


From: 	Dennis S. Wish PE[SMTP:wish(--nospam--at)]
Sent: 	Wednesday, January 24, 1996 10:30 AM
To: 	'BRBATES(--nospam--at)'
Cc: 	'seaoc(--nospam--at)'
Subject: 	[SEAOC] Re: Ethical Responsibility and the Engineering License

Thanks for the quick response Bruce. I resolved the problem the way you 
suggested. I think that this leads to an ethical question that I might 
upload to the listserve.

I was hired to provide engineering services to a contractor who is 
constructing a custom home in La Jolla. The original engineer of record has 
died and the home is 95% complete. The complaint of a bouncy floor led to a 
discovery that some remedial work done by the original engineer before his 
death was not designed properly. While designing a fix for the floor with 
the installation of structural steel, it was necessary to me to follow the 
load path down to the existing foundation - to determine the effect of my 
design on the existing structural members.
One end of my beam rested upon a steel beam that was part of a lateral 
resisting moment frame which was two stories. Since the effect of my 
gravity load might intensify the existing results of Lateral + Gravity 
loading, I decided to model a frame analysis - following the original 
engineers calculations and frame design.
In the course of doing this, I discovered that the engineers program only 
gave reactions and displacements, but did not do a code check or report if 
any member was overstressed or exceeded code required story drift. The e  
ngineer (SE) did not provide additional analysis for this information, but 
did check the columns for bending.
One beam (which lay below my gravity load) was overstressed in bending due 
to combined loading by over 33% - before my new load was introduced. The 
story drift exceeded code by 100% at the upper level and 75% at the lower 

I discovered the inadequacy of the original engineers work by being 
thorough - in my remedial design - enough to check the effect of my induced 
axial loads on his frame. The real question is "What is my ethical 
responsibility where I discover that the original design is deficient. Do I 
simply address a fix for my work and disregard the other potential 
problems? Do I notify my client (the contractor) of other