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RE: Disturbing New Trend

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I don't think that anyone could have said this better. Thank you Chris.
It should be a reminder to those of our profession who act as expert
witnesses that this is a position of responsibility where ethics are of
the utmost importance. There was an engineer who I heard speak many
years ago and whose enthusiasm drove me toward engineering. I believed
he was a man of ethics and of love for the profession. Twenty years
later I was hired to review his deposition in a law suit. The liberty he
took to bend the interpretation of the code upset me tremendously. He
was working to build a case for the attorney and he was stretched beyond
the ethical limits. His argument for justification of the plaintiff's
case was based on work that was still in the committees at the time the
design was instituted and only those members of the committee could have
had any idea that their work would be codified some time later. However,
his argument was that if the engineer who designed the work was true to
his profession, he would have participated in the committee and stayed
abreast of the work being done that would ultimately be codified. It
took four years for the issues that he raised to be codified - five
years after the design was complete and four years after then work was
done.
The pot of gold existed as the defendant had E&O coverage. Considering
this well known "experts" reputation, the insurance company settled
without litigation and while the Insurance company felt it was a
worthwhile settlement, the EOR paid his portion (out of pocket
deductible).
When I read the depositions and reviewed the design work I was convinced
that the plaintiff was only trying to recoup expenses that he incurred
by hiring an engineer who over-designed his building. The original EOR
was the wrong target as the Plaintiff should have gone after his own
engineer. Instead they changed the usage of the building from office to
warehouse and used the change in occupancy to invalidate the work done
by the original EOR. In the process, it opened up a can of worms and
minor issues related to the interpretation of code at the time was used
as leverage to recoup money that the plaintiff spend unwisely.

In this example, the lawyer should have seen what his client was
attempting to do. The expert witness who I admired so much sold out and
became an engineering hired gun and the Insurance company caved in to
minimize their liability rather than leave it in the hands of the jury.
All in all - greed led this case and the motivation was Errors and
Omissions insurance. Attorneys will only work contingency cases where
E&O coverage is at risk. Try finding an attorney to hire for an elder
abuse case who will work on a contingency. Elder abuse is a growing
problem and as we baby boomers pass retirement age, you can bet we will
be the targets. 

Don't cast the stone too far from the source as the problem starts under
our own roof as we put aside the ethics that we were entrusted to
protect.

Dennis



> -----Original Message-----
> From: Christopher Wright [mailto:chrisw(--nospam--at)skypoint.com] 
> Sent: Wednesday, July 11, 2001 8:18 PM
> To: SEAOC Newsletter
> Subject: Re: Disturbing New Trend
> 
> 
> >PLAINTIFF'S LAWYERS GO AFTER VOLUNTARY PRODUCT STANDARDS
> My experience is that no lawyer goes after anyone unless 
> there's a client 
> seeing to it that he gets paid. I don't have any more truck with 
> frivolous lawsuits than anyone else, but I have found that for every 
> chiselling plaintiff who hires a lawyer to get free money, there's an 
> arrogant defendant who hires a lawyer to help him beat the 
> rap. The enemy 
> isn't lawyers, it's us. 
> 
> Before we start blamestorming the legal profession ask ourselves what 
> sort of defense we'd want if we were trying to beat a DWI 
> rap--a highly 
> principled lawyer who'd advise us to  plead guilty and take 
> it like a man 
> or a land-shark who'll use every possible gimmick to get us 
> off the hook. 
> 
> 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) http://www.skypoint.com/~chrisw
> 
> 
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