Subject: Re: Changing the code (followup to Rigid Diaphragm)
From: "Barry H. Welliver" <wellive(--nospam--at)ibm.net>
Date: Wed, 05 May 1999 08:07:20 -0600
> Tom Campbell pointed out (and I tend to agree) that the attention to rigid
> diaphragm analysis started when ICBO began doing seminars in 1998 for
> preparation of the '97 code changes. Little did we realize what most of us
> were missing from the '94 code.
> How liable are we? If a building owner decides to sue an engineer for damage
> (whether a valid suit or not), how will the engineer fight the liability
> issue when an expert witness points out his failure to comply with these
> provisions of the '94 code?
I'd suppose the accused Engineer could/would show by poll that the profession by
and large was not applying the provision and in addition, that the Building
Official(s) apparently saw fit not to likewise "follow the code". I know any good
defense lawyer would characterize it differently (to follow an unjust
provision??) Key phrases like "state of professional practice" and "standards of
care" may help show what similar professionals were doing at the time.
On the matter of the 1997 rigid diaphragm requirements (for wood frame
buildings). The state of Utah has been under this particular version for some
time now (since January 1, 1999, I believe at least). The effect here has been
negligible to my eyes, however I must say that Building Departments here are more
inclined to rely upon the Engineers seal and don't look upon plan checking as an
intensive review. The circumstances in Utah are perhaps more lenient with regard
to plan checking (for a number of reasons), however the liability issues are, I
feel, greater due to this reliance upon the Engineer's judgment (and
interpretation of the code).
I agree Dennis, this airing may prove helpful in as much as we all profess to
work to protect the public safety and it's helpful to know that non-conformance
with a particular provision does not imply gross negligence. Earlier suggestions
to better examine the reasoning behind the rigid diaphragm code provision, and
the call for State Structural Engineering Associations to issue positions will go
far to show that we aren't just "sitting on our hands" about this issue.
Barry H. Welliver