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Re: Code created Malpractice opportunity

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> Robert, 
> I appreciate your comments but don't really feel that secure. Here is the 
> reason. 
> I was named in a suit (and subsequently droped when it turned out that my 
> stamp did not appear on the permit drawing even though I was employed by the 
> company when the design of the project began).
> 
> The building was sold. The new owner wanted to change the occupancy of the 
> building from offices to warehousing. The building was an Unreinforced 
> Masonry structure in the heart of Los Angeles City. The company I worked for 
> provided the design and retrofit some 9 years prior.
> 
> The new owner hired a new engineer to upgrade the building based upon a 
> change of occupancy and new requirments by the building department. The new 
> design went well over budget and the new owners called in another engineer 
> with known experience in retrofit. The new "expert" believed that the 
> original steel frames in the first floor used for shear and cross-walls were 
> underdesigned.
> 
> The building survived the Northridge earthquake and all events between 
> Whittier Narrows to present with little or no damage.  The new owners 
> attorneys who were experienced in construction and engineering liability 
> litigation claimed that if there was one defect found, the owner has the 
> right to suspect that there are others. The attorney's sued for over 1.5 
> million dollars - which just happened to be the cost of the change of 
> occupancy. The cost to correct any perceived error (assuming the allegations 
> were correct since no analysis existed after these many years) was around 
> $15,000.00.
> 
> The case never went before a jury - instead, the Insurance company settled 
> the claim in favor of the new owners at a comprimised figure.
> 
> I don't believe that any case needs to be decided by a jury as long as there 
> has been one accountable error made in the original design. Personally, I 
> think a jury would be more understanding of these types of issues and may 
> have seen the intention of the new building owners described above. However, 
> the E&O carrier circumvented the potential trial by "cutting their losses" at 
> the possible expense of the original Engineer of Record.
> 
> Therefore, rational accounts such as yours are not always (or frequently I 
> suspect) the way the outcome occurs. I think Insurances companies are better 
> prepared to settle claims then litigate them.
> 
> Dennis S. Wish PE

Clearly insurance companies are in business to make a profit, just 
as we are.  They will often pay bogus claims where it would cost 
more to litigate and win.  It's purely a business decision. 
Unfortunately, when they do, it reflects poorly on the engineer.  
However, if they did not try and control expenses in this way, our 
E&O premiums would be even higher, so it is hard to blame the 
insurance companies, even though it pisses you off.

I do have a couple of questions.  Who signed the Certificate of 
Merit?  Did you request separate counsel, due to the potential 
conflict of interest between you and the insurance company?

Robert