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RE: Statute of Limitations

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In most cases you are damned if you do or don't.  I recently design a
million dollar plus home where I used proprietary shear walls (with an
envelope solution taking the worst case flexible/rigid  wind/seismic) and
still sheathed the exterior of the home. I considered it a redundant system
as I did not have the confidence that the braced frames would provide
sufficient rigidity (although they are calculated to be four times stiffer
than plywood) and specified the plywood because I understood from experience
how it would behave.
Needless to say, with a redundant system, I was still called on the rug by
the contractor who believes that the extra cost of the sheathing was a waste
of money. He informed the architect who had already decided to replace me
with a new firm in town who will do the engineering for less money and more

The only thing I can say in defense of this is that I know of no engineer
who has been found liable in court for over-designing.  I know many who
settled out of court, but few who were found liable for using conservative
engineering judgment.

We are in a sorry state where we become gun-shy of doing our work for fear
that someone will question or judgment and scrutinize the work we do. It
makes one feel that the legal opportunities seriously negate the work we do
and we end up, in the end, returning more than our fee's for the work that
gets constructed. Why bother to work. It's cheaper to be unemployed at the
rate the legal system is destroying us.

To be fair -as I am sure I sound tremendously pessimistic and paranoid - but
code and policy makers are not helping when new codes create loopholes and
ambiguities that lawyers smell like blood to a shark. I think the policy
makers and code writers should spend a lot more time studying the
consequences of their work. Who can blame a lawyer for an opportunity
created by those who should be protecting engineers - their peers.

Dennis S. Wish, PE

-----Original Message-----
From: Roger Turk [mailto:73527.1356(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Friday, March 17, 2000 9:39 AM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: RE: Statute of Limitations

Jim Lutz wrote:

>>I would recommend that you throw all that stuff away. If anybody ever does
want to sue you, they will just use it for ammunition. Have you ever done a
set of calcs that you didn't find a mistake or two in later, or wish you had
checked one more thing? Make them work for it! Those old calcs in the attic
are just loaded pistols waiting to be misused.<<