To: "SEAOC Newsletter" <seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org>
Subject: RE: Something That Bugs Me About The AISC Code
From: Christopher Wright <chrisw(--nospam--at)skypoint.com>
Date: Wed, 16 May 01 09:19:22 -0500
>I can say "I based my design procedures on this accepted code or standard"
>and Mr. Shyster can say "ah, but doesn't that code say it's for BUILDINGS?"
Then you answer, 'The applicable physical principles operate precisely
the same in my widget as they do for the types of framed structures in
the AISC code. In particular the fatigue design provisions are precisely
applicable since the materials of construction respond identically.'
Which is true, so you've answered the question correctly and opened the
way for your attorney to ask you to explain for the jury in
cross-examination or re-direct as follows:
[Attorney] Mr Polhemus, you told plaintiff counsel that the physical
principles in the AISC code operate precisely the same in the widget as
they do for framed structure . Am I correct?
[WP] Yes, that's true.
[Attorney] 'Are there any other applications of the AISC Code beyond
[Attorney] 'I'm no engineer but these applications seem quite different
from each other and from buildings. How can this Code apply to such a
[WP] 'The basic principles of structural design, the physical laws if you
like, are universally applicable. An I beam has the same strength under a
given load imposed by snow as it would if the load were imposed by spent
nuclear fuel or a pallet of building material. The procedures for design
were developed in exactly the same way, and the strength is figured
according to the same rules.'
[Attorney] 'If I understand you correctly, you used the AISC Code in the
design of the widget because that Code embodies the proper engineering
methodology for computing the strength of a widget as well as other
structures as disparate as nuclear generating stations and lifting
cranes. Is that correct?'
[Attorney] 'And am I correct in believing that you also used this Code
because it is universally considered the best engineering practice for
[WP] Yes, that's correct.
[The testimony could go on in this vein for quite a while but sooner or
later plaintiff counsel will begin weeping, drop the suit, beg
forgiveness and offer to buy everyone dinner and drinks to show he's a
I've provided a fair amount of testimony, and it doesn't take a rocket
scientist to shred an argument like you've presented into tiny bits.
Technically illiterate lawyers (meaning 99% of them) rarely try building
a case on an engineering interpretation of a pretty much trivial phrase
like you've described, because reit puts them in the position of asking a
question which they don't know the answer to.
If I were you I'd worry a lot more about the AISC's lack of support of
ASD than requests for engineering interpretations from a lawyer.
Christopher Wright P.E. |"They couldn't hit an elephant from
chrisw(--nospam--at)skypoint.com | this distance" (last words of Gen.
___________________________| John Sedgwick, Spotsylvania 1864)
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