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RE: Testing the waters in Court

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George, I don't think you are responding to the listservice, but to me
privately. Add the list address seaint(--nospam--at) in the "To" portion of
your email or even the "Cc" (copy) portion.
I think you understand my point now. This is by no means the ideal way to
address a problem and most certainly it should have been addressed by the
Seismology committee. I lost a project today because I bid it on full
compliance (or at least the minimum acceptable standard) with the UBC. The
architect chooses to seek another engineer who will design this home for
less money and less restrictive - as the cities will allow in this area.
This becomes a very frustrating issue because members of Seismology don't
seem to accept the responsibility or even understand the degree of confusion
and potential liability that the code has fostered within the community.
When a building official decides to accept less than minimum code
compliance, the non-engineering community automatically believes that this
is an allowable "standard of professional practice" and expects engineers to
comply. So far, those with insurance appear to be the professionals who are
willing to "test the waters" and those without are willing to design by full
compliance so as not to take responsibility for the possibility of
litigation by an angry client.

I'm sure I am not the only engineer who this has happened to and would be
interested in hearing from others. However, how long will it be before the
insurance company begins to evaluate their insured client's methods of
practice and refuse to defend them when they learn that the engineer
designed to a less than minimum level of compliance?

Sooner or later something has to give and individuals whose names are
associated with the publication and authoring of the code are ridiculed for
not responding or correcting the problems that this code has created.

I might be pretty tough on this issue, but I don't believe it is our
responsibility as implementers of a published code to prove our judgment in
court. The cost of defending ourselves for each job will soon lead to a
prescriptive methodology for all wood structures as no competent engineer
will find it worthwhile to design in wood.

Dennis S. Wish PE

-----Original Message-----
From: GEOHAK(--nospam--at) [mailto:GEOHAK(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Monday, February 21, 2000 10:20 AM
To: seconsultant(--nospam--at); MarkKGilligan(--nospam--at)
Cc: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: Re: Testing the waters in Court

Hello Dennis,

    Yesterday I wrote a reply to your posting; I am not sure it went through
since I don't see it listed here today.
    The UBC, in my opinion, is merely a guideline, a "minimum requirement"
standard that engineers must follow to achieve a "safe" design, which is the
ultimate goal of the UBC.  The UBC may not be the ONLY Road towards that
goal; engineering creativity and judgment, along the guidelines prescribed
the code, if applied responsibly may equally achieve that goal.
    As to your comments regarding testing the waters in court, it is
appropriate and certainly feasible, in an existing case where code
applicability is in issue, to subpoena the head of the seismology committee,
which is responsible for setting the "lateral forces guidelines."  As such,
the seismology committee may be forced to rationalize the basis of their
guidelines, and may be even pinned-down to admit that these guidelines are
only that (a guideline), and are not necessarily the ONLY way to achieve a
safe design.

    By all means this is not a panacea, a cure-all medicine.Further
discussions are certainly in order.

George Hakim