David L. Fisher, SE, PE
Fisher+Horos Structural Engineers
372 West Ontario
From: Mark Gilligan [mailto:MarkKGilligan(--nospam--at)compuserve.com]
Sent: Saturday, January 27, 2001 4:27 PM
Subject: EOR(Kansas City Hyatt Walkway Failure)
The problem was the judge had certain expectations regarding Mr. Gillums
responsibilitie's and he came to the conclusion that Mr. Gillum did not do
a very good job in fulfilling his responsibilities. Issues as to the
difficiencies in the orignial detail or whether the fabricator was involved
in designing connections were basically irrelevant to the judges ruling.
In order to address this issue we need to make sure that the expectations
of the client are consistent with our ability to satisfy and then we need
to manage our effort to make sure that we fulfill the expectations.
It was stated:
"However, over the last 10 years or so, the nature of liability cases in
U.S. has directed the "blame" back at the EOR as the ultimate
source of responsibility for the entire structure."
The reality is that the EOR does not have the controll over the project
that would be appropriate for this level of responsibility. The quality of
the completed structure can be significantly impacted by the choice of the
General Contractor and his subs, the selection of the testing laboratory,
the willingness of the Owner to pay for the EOR to have a represenative on
site, and in some extreme cases the willingness of the Owner to fire the
Contractor. These and many other decisions are made by others often with
little or no input from the EOR.
While the EOR can go on record as objecting there is often little he can do
once the drawings leave his office.
The net result is that we all try to find the right ballance that meets the
needs of our clients and that allows us to stay in business and hopefully
make a profit. We do not exist in a vacume and our practices are often
influenced by what is perceived as standard inductry practice.
I believe that part of the tendency to see ".... the EOR as the ultimate
source of responsibility for the entire structure." is due to the fact that
most people do not understand how much authority/control the EOR actually
has. Admittedly this is a subject that is difficult to talk about. Some
people may be threatened by this subject, others may emphasise an ideal in
the hopes of giving the engineer more authority, and others may be ignorant
of the facts of life.
There is a need to bring the engineers percieved responsibility in line
with the authority and control he acutally has. I would support efforts to
increase the influence of the EOR but ultimately a key part of the solution
is that there needs to be a recognition of the control that the
Owner/Client actually has. Ultimately it is the Owner who selects the
designers, and the Contractor and ultimately it is the Owner who has to
potential to make the biggest profit. Thus the Owner should accept some
responsibility for the consequences of his decisions.
What is a reasonable level of responsibility for the EOR?
How do we educate the public and Owners as to the significance of key
decisions and as to who ultimately makes these decisions?
The EOR's authority and control should be consistent with his perceived
level of responsibility.