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Re: Seismic / building code

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Thank you, Charles,

I appreciate your insight.  One more area to mention would be juries.

A specific example:

Several years ago I appeared as an "expert witness".  A drunk (blood
alcohol over twice what's legal in Florida) tried to kick a door open on
the 4th floor of a motel.  He managed to propel himself backward thru the
balcony railing, and ended up paralyzed from the waist down.

The railing met code (SBCCI), but the jury found for the plaintiff (the
drunk), and awarded over a million dollars -- 'No mention of attempted
breaking and entering, even tho' his footprint was engraved in the door
where he kicked it.  An interesting twist...  The owner of the motel was a
licensed architect who was also the designer of the facility and oversaw
construction.  He had built the motel for his retirement.  The facility was
exceptionally maintained, and there was no way to explain the verdict --
except for the poor guy in the wheelchair...  

I'd take up another line of work, except I love structural engineering too

One day I expect to be sued and join the rolls of penniless, unemployed
(and unemployable) structural engineers.

Maybe we should enlist attorneys to write our codes to protect the
engineers.  Any engineer worth his salt is going to do his best to protect
the public.

How about it, guys?  Will any one of you stand up and boast of habitual
negligence?  Will any one of you deliberately issue a design that you know
to be inadequate?  Do any of you know an engineer who would fall into that

'May be it's time to write some code provisions to protect the engineer...

Fountain E. Conner, P.E.
Gulf Breeze, Fl. 32561

> From: Charles Greenlaw <cgreenlaw(--nospam--at)>
> To: seaint(--nospam--at)
> Subject: Re: Seismic / building code
> Date: Sunday, April 04, 1999 2:50 AM


> The kicker on whether a code violation is "negligence per se" comes back
> whether the code was really violated. That's where the growing
> conflicts, inconsistencies, incomprehensibilities, and lack of data with
> which to comply (like this diaphragm rigidity in houses calculation)
> escalates our peril from a can of worms into a truckload of rattlesnakes.

> Figure on spending six months income and six months lost time to prove
> were right all along.
> Fountain Conner got that part right. They are going to hang us with the
> building code provisions we wrote. 
> Charles O. Greenlaw, SE   Sacramento CA