Assume for the minute that the engineers who are designing by historic
method and who believe that he current, more elaborate method, does not
provide additional levels of safety. Therefore, they continue to design as
they have in the past and ignore the requirements of the present. As you
noted, this may be considered the standard of practice.
Now, consider that a major earthquake occurs and even one of the homes
designed by the conventional or historic method fails and life is lost. The
engineer is sued for non-compliance to the current code. Still, it is not
known if the increased scope of the new code would have provided further
The engineer would have a tough time using the prevailing practice as a
standard of care - yet there would be no way to tell if loss of life could
have been prevented by full compliance. Therefore, the engineer may be found
liable simply by the fact that he failed to comply with the minimum
This is why I feel that it is necessary to resolve these issues NOW or
litigate them in court by insuring a defense fund for the unlucky engineer
who is sued for damages where another expert witness testifies that he did
not fully comply with the written provisions of the UBC and designed to a
lesser standard whether or not it was considered an acceptable prevailing
Do you see the dilemma that occurs?
From: GEOHAK(--nospam--at)aol.com [mailto:GEOHAK(--nospam--at)aol.com]
Sent: Sunday, February 20, 2000 11:08 PM
Subject: Re: UBC/LA City Code and Lateral Design Forces
In response to your follow up message, the standard of care is the
""acceptable"" and prevailing practice in the community which goal is to
ensures a design that is "safe." Now we must come to the following
should an engineer not follow the code recommendations, he had better have a
pretty good argument showing that such design did not fall below the
of care; in other words, the design does not endanger life or property.
You have alluded to the fact that many engineers are doing just that
(correct me if wrong.) Is it possible that this IS the prevailing
If such design equally provides the "safety" assured by following the
it is as well, "an acceptable standard of care." As I said in prior
messages, engineers in my opinion should go above code requirements; hence,
because the code provides only minimum standards, different approaches,
demonstrably and unequivocally afford equal or superior safety may be proven
to be "acceptable."
I hope this message will assist in shedding some new lights on this matter.