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RE: Now I am in a REAL jamb!!

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Lynn,

I would check the language in your state Code of Professional
Conduct for Professional Engineers.  Our state code says..

"Registrants at all times shall recognize that their primary
obligation is to protect the safety, health, property or welfare
of the public.  If the professional judgement is overruled
under circumstances where the safety, health, property or
welfare of the public are endangered, they shall notify their
employer or client and other authority as may be appropriate."

I'm not a lawyer, but this seems to clearly go beyond "imminent
danger to life or safety of the occupants". However, I don't know how your
state's code is worded. Other than this, I don't have any
suggestions for your dilemma. Doing the right thing isn't always
the easiest thing in the short term.

David L. Williams, P.E.
Columbia, MO


-----Original Message-----
From: Lynn [mailto:lhoward(--nospam--at)silcom.com]
Sent: Thursday, February 14, 2002 4:29 PM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org
Subject: Now I am in a REAL jamb!!


I posted a letter the other day that some of you
responded to me both on the list and privately.  I
really appreciated the input I received and decided to
contact the Owner, Building Department and Architect
about potential problems I had found with the building.

Now my client has threatened to sue me if he suffers
any losses due to our reporting these issues to the
building department.  He say we were hired as a
consultant, and as such we had no right to inform
anyone else of our findings, unless there was an
eminent danger to the life or safety of the occupants.
Since the building is only now under construction, they
claim there was no such threat.

Does anyone have any comments on this?  Is this true?
Do we only have the right to report errors we find to
the building official if they are of an immediate life
safety type.  If our client suffers losses because I
reported this, am I to be held liable?

Below is the text of my original text for those of you
that do not remember my issue.

Lynn







I need help on an issue I know has been addressed
before, but to be honest I did not pay much attention
to it because it did not directly effect me at the
time.

There is a new three story office building being
constructed, it totals about 50,000 square feet.  The
first floor, first floor walls, and second floor slab
is all concrete and concrete block.  The second floor
concrete slab is about to be placed.  The upper floors
are wood and steel.

Our office did not do the design for the building, but
we have been asked by a tenant that is going to occupy
some of the building to provide structural design for
their T.I. work.  They have some heavy equipment going
in, so there is some significant structural work that
will have to be done in order to accommodate this
equipment.

The Architect of the building provided us with a
complete set of plans and structural calculations so we
could do our work.  Once we got into the plans and
calculations, it became obvious to us that the Engineer
of Record for this building did not provide a design
that conforms to Code.  Many of the Code violations are
in the area of seismic design.  But some are simply of
a gravity load type error also.  We did not do a
detailed review of the plans and specifications, but we
saw enough to know that we want nothing to do with this
project.  We have told the tenant that we are not going
to provide the structural design they have requested,
and we have told the tenant exactly why.

My question is if we bow out of this project, am I done
with my professional responsibilities under my capacity
as a licensed structural engineer in the State of
California?  I would like to just walk away from this
whole thing and not get involved any further.  But I
also want to make sure  I am not walking away from and
responsibilities that I may have as a licensed
engineer.

Am I obligated to tell the building owner that I have
doubts (but not proof) about the adequacy of the
structural design?  Am I obligated to tell the Building
department that I have doubts (but not proof) about the
structural design?

Any thoughts on this issue would be appreciated.

Lynn

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