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Firm Sued Over Fractures in Steel Frames in Quake.

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In the Thursday, January 23, 1997, Los Angeles Times, is an article
concerning a BILLION dollar class-action lawsuit filed by the firm Pillsbury,
Madison & Sutro in the Los Angeles Superior Court accusing the manufacturer
of the welding materials used in the construction of the welded steel moment
frame buildings that were damaged in the 1994 Northridge earthquake of making
and marketing a weld metal that poses "an unreasonable risk of damage" to
building owners and the public.

Will this lawsuit have a "chilling" influence on the Structural Engineers
Association of California, Applied Technology Council and California
Universities for Research In Earthquake Engineering (SAC) Program for the
Evaluation, Repair and Modification and Design of of Steel Moment Frames? 

Will the SAC Investigators be willing to present their findings and
recommendations concerning the use of  certain welding procedures in the
usual professional manner that other engineering findings and recommendations
are presented to the structural engineering profession with this Pillsbury,
Madison & Sutro and other similar lawsuits in the background?

Should the SAC Investigators excuse themselves from continuing to serve on
the SAC Project if they take commissions to be expert witnesses for either
side in the above Pillsbury, Madison &  Sutro and other similar lawsuits
concerning the performance of welded steel moments frame buildings in the
1989 Loma Prieta and 1994 Northridge earthquakes because of a possible
conflict of interest? 

Will these SAC Investigators have an unfair advantage as expert witnesses
with their advanced and "insider" knowledge and information concerning the
seismic performance of the welded steel frame buildings and the results of
 the latest, yet unpublished research concerning the testing and other
investigations of welded steel frame buildings which is not readily available
to other engineers?  

Does it make a difference in the timing of  the full and immediate disclosure
of the findings and recommendations that result from the SAC Program in that
the SAC Program is funded mostly by FEMA funds  - the public's money - as
compared with similar research projects funded by private funds?

What will be the influence of the Pillsbury, Madison & Sutro and other
similar lawsuits on the practice of structural engineering in the United
States?  It would appear that structural engineers should know more about
welding and what welding materials to specify than to just referencing  the
usual national standards in their specifications to protect themselves from
potential professional liability lawsuits?

Frank E. McClure    FEMCCLURE(--nospam--at)aol.com  January 29, 1997