Thank you for your reply. First and foremost, please just call me Dennis - I
am most uncomfortable with my friends on this list whom I consider my peers,
to be so formal with me. I think I have bared more of my soul on this list
than to many of my most intimate friends.
Now, let's start with the last part of your email and work backwards:
You have understood my point. Los Angles, contrary to what many of us
believe, has simply developed a modified methodology that they expect to
yield an equal or more restrictive resolution - but with much less effort. I
believe we expected the document to suggest an exemption for one or two
story light framed wood structures and this is not the case. Therefore,
nothing really has changed other than a potential savings in design time -
the issue of conservativeness of the final design or of attacking the
quality of construction issues is not even addressed. In other words -
nothing has changed and the document from L. A. City is of no great
innovation or surprise to the engineering community (although any savings in
effort is appreciated).
Next, I was not suggesting initiating a trial by jury. I was suggesting a
"defense fund" to be used to provide sufficient representation (legal and
professional) to carry the case through trial without settling - as is the
typical case to avoid the cost of litigation. More clearly, assume one of us
is sued for damages which an expert for the plaintiff swears resulted
because the EOR failed to design in full compliance with the code. If the
EOR had in fact failed comply with the full provisions of the code, his
representation would most likely try to settle rather than proceed and bear
the expense of proving the EOR's innocence. Assuming that the building
department in which the design was permitted allowed or even recommended the
less than compliant procedure (as is the case in my area), there is grounds
to carry forth and test the notion of a Standard of Care.
This leads to your first paragraph - the Standard of care. I am not familiar
with the document that you indicated - in fact, I don't work as an expert
witness other than to review testimony from time to time for attorneys and
offer professional opinions.
What we have is a rather unique situation here. Prior to the enforcement of
this code, engineers provided not less but greater design protection.
However, we find ourselves in a position where there are numerous reasons
why most engineers would prefer not to comply with the provisions of the
code - many of which I have already stated in my threads. For the first
time, it appears that many professionals are deliberately ignoring the code
provisions, many of who believe that they will address it only if sued. As I
noted before, many building departments have decided to accept a lesser
standard and are issuing permits at with no responsibility or liability on
the part of the building official.
Please re-read your first paragraph as you actually define the standard of
care to be the opinion of the "experts" - which I assume you mean "Expert
Witness" - whose job it is to convince the jury. I believe that this is a
subjective opinion of the most credible and personable witness rather than
any rational or intellectually logical explanation.
This leads to my original questions - is it advisable to test the waters by
providing a defense fund for those accused which will allow a defendant to
litigate rather than settle - a position most insurance companies would
rather do than bear the expense of a trial.
Your reply also raises another question: If an engineer chooses to design to
a less than full compliance with the code - even with the approval of the
building official - will his insurance company provide liability coverage?
If so, how long before the insurance industry deny coverage to engineers who
have been accused or are known to design to less than full compliance?
Dennis S. Wish, PE