November 30, 2009

Medical Expert Witness Restrictions Upheld in Maryland Part 1

Amednews.com reports on Maryland's requirements for medical expert witnesses:

Maryland's highest court upheld a tort reform measure requiring certain qualifications for expert witnesses in medical liability cases, a move physicians say will prevent plaintiffs from using so-called "hired guns" to bolster meritless lawsuits. The 2004 law prohibits the use of medical expert witnesses who devote more than 20% of their professional time to testifying in personal injury cases....
"This allows a qualified doctor to continue to utilize his or her expertise [to assist in medical liability cases], but prevents him or her from launching a second career as purely an expert witness," states the opinion in University of Maryland Medical System v. Waldt (mdcourts.gov/opinions/coa/2009/130a08.pdf).

November 29, 2009

Construction Site Expert Witness On Expert Reports Part 1

In Citations and Your Credibility, construction site expert witness William Gulya, Jr., President & CEO, Middlesex Trenching Company writes:

Whether you have been an expert witness for years or are just starting out, accurate research, proper formatting of citations and clarity will make your written report accurate, impressive and, most of all, credible. As you gain more experience in utilizing proper techniques you will become more comfortable and confident.

One of the most common and repetitive mistakes I see when analyzing my counterparts’ expert reports is in the proper formatting of references and citations. In some instances, they are entirely void of any citations or references. This is a critical error and can result in cross-examination Armageddon for the expert witness. Improper citations or references will frequently result in an unintentional misleading fact or unsubstantiated conclusion. I can assure you, this will be red flagged by opposing counsel and you will be rigorously questioned in cross-examination. The questioning will be harsh and deliberately targeted in an attempt to reduce and bring into doubt your credibility in the eyes of the judge and/or jury. Once doubt is injected into the jury’s mind, your report, testimony and conclusions become questionable at best and at worst unreliable and unbelievable.


November 28, 2009

Insurance Expert Witness On Expert Assignments Part 5

In When the Phone Rings ... Twelve Questions for Prospective Expert Witness Assignments, insurance expert witness Kevin M. Quinley, CPCU, ARM, AIC, writes:

Consultants and expert witnesses are more used to answering questions than asking them. When the phone rings, there may be an attorney or prospective client on the other end of the line. He or she poses questions to the consultant or expert, trying to gauge whether there is a good “fit” between the client’s needs and what the practitioner can offer in the way of experience and expertise.

After answering prospective clients’ questions, effective consultants and expert witnesses may have some queries of their own. In fact, they should. Here are 12 questions that can form the basis of an effective fact-gathering process which unearths aspects of a case to help the consultant and expert witness gauge the degree of fit.
(5) What is the due date for the expert report? Before saying “yes” to any assignment, it’s best to find out. It takes only one case coming in on Dec. 23 with an expert report deadline of Jan. 3 to teach you this lesson. This scenario befell me, and I still have memories of spending my Christmas “vacation” with multiple bankers’ boxes on an insurance excess coverage dispute. “Deck the halls with boughs of declaratory judgment actions, tra-la-la-la ... .” No whining here — I willingly agreed to take the assignment.

In hindsight, though, my rate structure may have been different on the rationale that “rush jobs cost more” in any line of endeavor. Before agreeing to an engagement or quoting your hourly rate, find out how close you are to the due date and adjust your fee structure, and even your willingness to take the case, accordingly. As an aside, it is amazing to see the procrastination bent of many legal counsel. Scheduling orders typically set forth months in advance the dates for
designating expert witness, the dates expert reports are due and so forth. Yet procrastination
often rears its ugly head (or its ugly rear) among attorneys who scramble for an expert two weeks before they must designate names.


Kevin M. Quinley is a leading authority on insurance issues, including risk management, claims, bad faith, coverages and litigation management. He is the author of more than 600 articles and 10 books. You can reach him through http://www.insuranceexpertnetwork.com/.

November 27, 2009

Trucking Expert Witness On Safety Resources #1

Trucking expert witness V. Paul Herbert, C.P.S.A. of Western Motor Carrier Safety Institute, Inc. offers resources on his website including:

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) is a not-for-profit organization, established to promote an environment free of commercial vehicle accidents and incidents. CVSA is an association of state, provincial, and federal officials responsible for the administration and enforcement of motor carrier safety laws in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

For more, see Paul Herbert.

November 26, 2009

Accident Investigation Expert Witness On Slip & Fall Litigation

In The Concept of the Coefficient of Friction in Slip and Fall Litigation accident investigation expert witness Melvin M. Friedlander, P.E., writes:

When a person enters litigation, because of an injury from a slip and fall accident, the slipperiness of the surface becomes a major factor in the matter before the court. The slipperiness of the surface is measured by a dimensionless ratio called the coefficient of friction or COF. The COF is the surface force, generated by a pedestrian, in the walking direction, divided by the weight of the pedestrian. As an example, a 200 pound pedestrian generating a 100 lb surface force will have a COF equal to 0.50

For more, see http://www.jurispro.com/MelvinFriedlanderPE.

November 25, 2009

Fire Expert Witness On What Fire Scene Responders Need To Know Part 3

In What Fire Scene Responders Need to Know in Tough Economic Times (Part 3), fire expert witness and Principal of Pyrocop Inc., Robert Rowe writes:

Another factor that can reduce the incidence of arson is ensuring that every suspicious fire is investigated. Ensuring that an investigator is called to investigate is the job of those who initially respond to fire scenes.

Fire Scene Responders (FSR’s) such as firefighters, police officers, emergency medical services personnel, and insurance personnel are typically the first individuals who walk into a fire scene. As such, they must have the necessary tools to properly identify indicators of a suspicious fire incident, develop a “gut feeling” that something is not quite right, and take the necessary steps to ensure that a qualified investigator is called to the scene as soon as possible.

Some of the most common indicators found at a suspicious fire scene may include:

Multiple fires and points of origin
Trailers made from combustible material and/or ignitable liquids
Lack of expected fuel loads or excessive fuel loads
Unusual odors detected, such as gasoline, alcohols, and paint thinners in unexpected areas
Burn injuries to suspect
Incendiary devices, such as books of paper matches with cigarette remnants attached, candle wax, Molotov Cocktails (fire bombs), and artificial fire logs found in unlikely locations

A systematic and thorough evaluation of a fire scene upon arrival and after the fire is extinguished is critical to the overall investigation. Carefully developed protocols such as the National Fire Protection Association’s 921 Standard are used by professional fire investigators to determine origin and cause. It is the responsibility of FSR’s to make sure that investigative resources are used when appropriate.

As economic indicators continue to spiral downward and as individuals face desperate economic choices, the incidence of arson may increase. If this happens, fire scene responders should be identifying greater numbers of suspicious fires and investigators will find themselves busier than ever.

November 24, 2009

Defamation Expert Witnesses Limited By Corpus Christi Judge

State District Judge Jose Longoria ruled this week that former Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce CEO Terry Carter’s lawsuit can continue but without two of his planned defamation expert witnesses. Carter filed a lawsuit in March 2008 against the chamber, former and current board members, the Caller-Times and others, saying they knowingly disseminated false statements about him and the chamber’s finances which caused him to lose his job.

All the defendants have denied Carter’s accusations and the chamber has counter sued Carter alleging a breach of contract. Attorney Jorge Rangel, who represents the Caller-Times and E.W. Scripps, said Monday that because the case involves first amendment rights the newspaper immediately can appeal on the summary judgment issue. Rangel said that will be the next step.

November 23, 2009

Insurance Expert Witness On Expert Assignments Part 4

In When the Phone Rings ... Twelve Questions for Prospective Expert Witness Assignments, insurance expert witness Kevin M. Quinley, CPCU, ARM, AIC writes:

Consultants and expert witnesses are more used to answering questions than asking them. When the phone rings, there may be an attorney or prospective client on the other end of the line. He or she poses questions to the consultant or expert, trying to gauge whether there is a good “fit” between the client’s needs and what the practitioner can offer in the way of experience and expertise.

After answering prospective clients’ questions, effective consultants and expert witnesses may have some queries of their own. In fact, they should. Here are 12 questions that can form the basis of an effective fact-gathering process which unearths aspects of a case to help the consultant and expert witness gauge the degree of fit.

(4) What is the key issue or issues for which you need an expert? This is what I call framing the issue. Attorneys often do what I call a “data vomit,” spewing facts over the phone. Often, it is easy to lose sight of the forest for all the trees. Yes, you need an overview and a lay of the land. At some point — off the meter, of course — you may need to diplomatically ask counsel, “On what issue exactly might you need my opinion?” This steers the attorney and the discussion to an outcome-oriented conclusion. You may find that the issue is outside of your realm of expertise. If so, best to know that now. Maybe you know of another expert who could be a better fit. Alternatively, you might find that the issue is right in your “sweet spot” of expertise. If you let counsel meander interminably, his or her need may not be clear. Do not be shy about asking, diplomatically.

Kevin M. Quinley is a leading authority on insurance issues, including risk management, claims, bad faith, coverages and litigation management. He is the author of more than 600 articles and 10 books. You can reach him through http://www.insuranceexpertnetwork.com/.

November 22, 2009

Police Procedures Expert Witness Testifies In Vancouver Gang Case

Jamie and Jarrod Bacon are facing 10 firearms charges stemming from the discovery of a secret gun compartment containing weapons the day after Jamie was wounded in a shooting outside the family's home. Defense lawyers for the Red Scorpion gang siblings are challenging the legality of the vehicle search as well as the police conduct in the Bacon house after the shooting and before the gun compartment was found.


Police procedures expert witness
Paul Vogt of the Canada Border Services Agency says the Bacon brothers' secret gun compartment is the work of a specialist. The compartment in the Suburban in which four loaded handguns and five magazines were found had carpet installed to “stop any contraband from moving around,” Vogt said. “It is a very sophisticated compartment professionally installed by someone who knows what they are doing,” he testified.

For more, see vancouversun.com.

November 21, 2009

Jenzabar & Internet Expert Witness

techdirt.com has this to say about Jenzabar & Google metatags:

Jenzabar Finds 'Expert Witness' Who Will Claim Google Relies On Metatags, Despite Google Saying It Does Not

CEO of software company Jenzabar, Ling Chai, has sued the makers of a documentary about the Tiananmen Square uprising. Now, the company has gone even further. It's found an "expert witness" who will claim that metatags do, in fact, influence Google results, even as the company itself insists they don't. The guy in question, Frank Farance, claims in his affidavit that "metatags are used by every Web search engine to determine search results and rankings." It's not clear how he has expertise in this particular realm or how he knows that Google uses metatags when pretty much everyone in the space has known for years it does not and Google itself has publicly denied using metatags to rank results.

November 20, 2009

Fire Expert Witness On What Fire Scene Responders Need To Know Part 2

In What Fire Scene Responders Need to Know in Tough Economic Times (Part 2), fire expert witness and Principal of Pyrocop Inc., Robert Rowe writes:

For example, Maine State Fire Marshall John Dean told the Maine Public Broadcasting Network last month that he expects that the recession will continue to fuel the arson rate as more and more people face a loss of their property or find it difficult to pay their bills. These trends become more evident with the recent increase in gas prices and the realization by desperate owners of “gas guzzling” vehicles that arson may be the only way to relieve their financial burden.

Additionally, there is the failing business. During adverse economic conditions, arson involving businesses becomes a hopeless but viable option for those business owners who are experiencing a profit loss to “shore up” an otherwise dismal month-end balance sheet.

Fortunately, fire jurisdictions and insurance companies have become much more aggressive with their anti-arson programs to reduce the number of cases of arson for profit by making it less likely that such crimes will go undiscovered. In particular, the development of some insurance and other computerized matching database tools has been credited by some investigators with making arson for profit easier to detect and prove.


November 19, 2009

Medical Negligence Expert Witness Guidelines Set by AAP

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) revised its guidelines for medical negligence expert witness testimony in cases involving pediatric expert witnesses. In its policy statement, the AAP provides a definition of expert witness testimony, and provides recommendations on how pediatricians should approach their role as experts. The full release can be found here: http://aappolicy.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/pediatrics;109/5/974

November 19, 2009

Trucking and Transportation Rules and Regulations Expert Witness On The Trucking Industry

Trucking and transportation rules and regulations expert witness John Johnson, a Michigan Technological University professor of mechanical engineering, testified last spring before the House Subcommittee on Energy and Environment as part of a review of the Department of Energy's (DOE) Vehicle Technologies research and development programs.

The expert witness stated that increasing truck efficiency has a major impact because trucks make up a significant portion of America's fuel use and will likely surpass passenger car fuel use within the next few decades. Research spending should reflect the significant role the trucking industry plays in the US economy. Manufacturers of heavy-duty trucks had sales of $16 billon in 2002, and overall, the trucking industry employs 1.4 million workers with an annual payroll of $47 billion. "Trucks account for about one-fourth of the transportation industry's total revenues," said Johnson.

For more, see mtu.edu.

November 18, 2009

Trucking Expert On Safety & Fuel Economy

Trucking industry expert witness John Johnson, a Michigan Technological University professor of mechanical engineering testified last spring before the House Subcommittee on Energy and Environment as part of a review of the Department of Energy's (DOE) Vehicle Technologies research and development programs. The expert said more research is needed to improve the safety and fuel economy of the nation's truck fleet.

Johnson expressed concern over the decline in federal funding for the 21st Century Truck Partnership. In 2000, DOE launched the Partnership to explore technological improvements in commercial and military trucks and buses. Funded through the DOE, the Department of Defense, the Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency, the Partnership also involves several national research laboratories and many industrial partners.

November 17, 2009

Document Examination Expert Witness On Examination of Copied Documents Part 2

In Is it Fabricated?, document examination expert witness Ronald N. Morris writes on what material can be on a copy in addition to the material on the original. "Copies may include toner reproduction of scratches, trash, dirt, etc., found on the glass or drum."

...b. Even if a number of these qualities and features are present in the copy, it cannot be concluded that the copied document contained an originally written signature. Document fabrication, complete with the addition of signatures extracted from other documents, is relative easy to accomplish.

c. Writing features found in the original document paper stock, such as indentations or indented outlines of letters and words, the disturbance of paper fibers due to mechanical abrasive erasure or the use of liquid solvents or eradicators, insertion of a number or letter using a different ink, etc., are not exactly reproduced during the copying process.

d. Embossing caused by heavy writing pressure on a soft writing surface.

e. There are a number of other characteristics, qualities, and features found on an original that are not accurately reproduced during the copying process.

November 16, 2009

Reverse Engineering Expert Witnesses

A common principle utilized in establishing the cause of failure of a structure or product is reverse engineering. This is a process forensic engineering expert witnesses understand and frequently undertake, possibly under the guise of a different name, e.g. Failure Mode and Effect Analysis (FMEA).

What appears an obvious methodology to many engineers is not always adhered to and frequently overlooked, but does require a disciplined analytical approach. The scientific method of determining the cause of such an incident requires the Forensic Engineer to:

* State the problem
* Carry out numerous observations
* Formulate an hypotheses as to the cause
* Carry out any testing considered necessary
* Analyse the results
* Draw a conclusion

Excerpted from the Society Of Professional Engineers.

November 16, 2009

Forensic Engineering Expert Witness Defined

The Society of Professional Engineers writes on Forensic Engineers:

How and when does a Civil Engineer become a Forensic Engineer, or require the services of a Forensic Engineer? What does a Forensic Engineer do, and, what makes the Civil Engineer different to a Forensic Engineer engaged to investigate a civil engineering matter? The term Forensic Engineer is a relatively new one and too one not frequently used by those very people who are practicing Forensic Engineers! A more familiar description is Expert Witness. How do you distinguish between a Forensic Engineer and an Expert Witness? What is a Forensic Engineer? This paper attempts to differentiate between these roles, while at the same time defining what a Forensic Engineer is, and the manner, processes and techniques that he/she has to use. The paper is not intended to describe in detail the specific processes, (typically accident reconstruction, 3D modelling etc) but it does identify the legal processes and implications that the Forensic Engineer should take on when accepting instructions on a particular matter. The paper also provides examples of these processes and the implications they hold for the engineering community as a whole in a litigious society. The paper does not attempt to discuss any differences between the numerous engineering disciplines (civil, structural, mechanical et.al.); the same principles apply to all.

For more, see http://www.professionalengineers-uk.org/index.htm

November 16, 2009

The Structural Safety Expert Witness & Mechanical Engineering

In MECHANICAL ENGINEERING, NOT JUST ABOUT GEARS, structural safety expert witness Philip J. O'Keefe, PE, MLE, writes:

Mechanical engineering is one of the oldest and broadest of engineering disciplines. It encompasses a broad number of disciplines, from physics to materials science, but it can be summarized as being derived from ten core areas:

1. Statics: The study of how forces are transmitted to and through stationary objects.
2. Dynamics: The study of the effects of velocity and acceleration, and resulting forces and energy, of moving objects.
3. Kinematics of Machines: The study of how parts of machines behave as they move through their ranges of motion.
4. Strength of Materials: The study of the properties of materials along with the geometry and sizing of structural components, structures, and machine parts to prevent failure.

For more, see http://www.blogcatalog.com/blog/engineering-expert-witness-blog.

November 16, 2009

Structural Fatigue Expert Witness & Mechanical Engineering

In MECHANICAL ENGINEERING, NOT JUST ABOUT GEARS, structural fatigue expert witness Philip J. O'Keefe, PE, MLE, writes:

Mechanical engineering is one of the oldest and broadest of engineering disciplines. It encompasses a broad number of disciplines, from physics to materials science, and includes:

Strength of Materials: The study of the properties of materials along with the geometry and sizing of structural components, structures, and machine parts to prevent failure.

Materials Science: The study of how metal alloys and polymers are formed to have specific properties.

Thermodynamics: The study of the properties of steam and other media used to absorb and transfer heat energy in power plants, engines, and refrigeration systems.


For more, see http://www.blogcatalog.com/blog/engineering-expert-witness-blog.

November 16, 2009

Structural Failure Expert Witness & Mechanical Engineering

In MECHANICAL ENGINEERING, NOT JUST ABOUT GEARS, structural failure expert witness Philip J. O'Keefe, PE, MLE, writes:

Mechanical engineering is one of the oldest and broadest of engineering disciplines. It encompasses a broad number of disciplines, from physics to materials science, including:

Fluid Mechanics: The study of the force, pressure, and energy of stationary and moving fluids. Fluid mechanics also includes the study of aerodynamics.

Heat Transfer: The study of how heat moves through vacuum, gases, liquids, and solid objects.

Vibrations: The study of balancing moving parts in machines to smooth out operation, reduce wear, and prevent failure.

Machine Design: The study of accepted design conventions for gears, pulleys, drive belts, drive chains, sprockets, bearings, axles, shafts, hoist cables, screws, bolts, rivets, and welds.

For more, see http://www.blogcatalog.com/blog/engineering-expert-witness-blog.

November 15, 2009

Forensic Engineering Experts Defined

The Society of Professional Engineers gives their definition of of a forensic engineer:

The best definition of a Forensic Engineer I have found, defines the role as: “Forensic Engineering is the application of the art and science of engineering in the jurisprudence system, requiring the services of legally qualified professional engineers. Forensic Engineering may include the investigation of the physical causes of accidents and other sources of claims and litigation, preparation of engineering reports, testimony at hearings and trials in administrative or judicial proceedings, and the rendition of advisory opinions to assist the resolution of disputes affecting life or property.”

http://www.professionalengineers-uk.org/

November 15, 2009

Civil Engineering Experts On Residential Flooding

Civil engineering experts at the American Society of Civil Engineers have written a free pamphlet entitles "So, You Live Behind a Levee!"

Most people know that levees are built near rivers and lakes to reduce flooding risk, but what does it mean to live behind one? Are your home and loved ones safe from floods? How much protection does the levee really provide? What do you need to know to be safe? ASCE's new public education booklet,
So, You Live Behind a Levee!
, was created to answer those questions and more, and to help individuals and communities better protect themselves against future flood threats. Written for both the engineering and non-engineering public, it covers issues such as flood size and risk, signs of trouble, ways to reduce risk, and how to prepare for and respond to emergencies.

* Download a free copy of "So, You Live Behind a Levee!" and find out how you can order multiple copies of the handy paperback guide at a discount. http://www.asce.org/

November 15, 2009

Preparation of the Quality Control Expert Witness

In The Role of Trial Counsel and House Counsel: Preparation of the Quality Control Witness for Deposition and Trial Testimony, authors Warren W. Eginton and Clifford L. Whitehill-Yarza, write:

Product liability cases require prevention and preparation by corporate and retained attorneys as well as by subject experts. Prevention activities include a prevention review, careful maintenance of blueprint and specifications files, file retention programs for in-house memoranda, and proper use of warranty disclaimers. Once the company receives a writ notifying it of litigation, it should assemble a defense team, consisting of the corporate attorney, an engineer, departmental representatives, and, if appropriate, a representative from the insurance carrier. An early responsibility for the team is to preserve the product and its files and to question witnesses. If an expert witness will appear at the trial, that person should be selected with care. Selection criteria include strong academic credentials and communication skills. Experienced expert witnesses should have no more than two-thirds of their cases devoted solely to either the defense or plaintiff side. The witness should prepare draft and final reports, doing so without retaining notes. Ideally, the witness should participate in a mock trial and then attend every day of the real trial. When on the stand, the expert ought to dress conservatively, speak loudly and clearly, and maintain the same demeanor when responding to both direct and cross examination questions.

For full article, see http://www.asq.org/qic/display-item/index.pl?item=10525.

November 15, 2009

Researching The Software Quality Expert Witness

When researching a software quality expert witness, see The American Society For Quality's Minimum Expectations of a Software Quality Engineer. The ASQ recommends that the software quality engineer:

Must have a thorough understanding of verification and validation processes, including early software defect detection and removal, inspection, and testing methods (e.g., types, levels, strategies, tools and documentation). Must be able to analyze test strategies, develop test plans and execution documents, and review customer deliverables.

Must have a basic understanding of configuration management processes, including planning, configuration identification, configuration control, change management, status accounting, auditing and reporting. Must assess the effectiveness of product release and archival processes.

http://www.asq.org/index.html

November 15, 2009

Reverse Engineering Expert Witnesses

The reverse engineering expert witness focuses on discovering the technological principles of a device, object or system through analysis of its structure, function and operation. Reverse engineering is a process of examination only: the software system under consideration is not modified (which would make it re-engineering).

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reverse_engineering.

November 15, 2009

Crash Test Expert Witnesses At CA DOT

The California Department of Transportation Roadside Safety Research Group is responsible for evaluating the crash worthiness of roadside safety technology such as barriers, guardrails, crash cushions, bridge rails, sign supports and other hardware. The branch conducts full-scale crash tests on roadside safety hardware designs developed by Caltrans to assure that these designs comply with applicable crash performance criteria. It also evaluates the crash worthiness of proprietary hardware developed by others to assure that such hardware is acceptable for use on state highways. Finally, the branch provides support to Caltrans Legal in tort liability cases by conducting crash tests and providing technical assessments and expert witness testimony.

November 15, 2009

Forensic Engineering Experts On Motorcycle Helmets

Crashworthiness experts at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration answer the questions "DO MOTORCYCLE HELMETS INTERFERE WITH THE VISION AND HEARING OF RIDERS? '

Motorcycle crash statistics show that helmets are about 29 percent effective in preventing crash fatalities. That is, on average, riders wearing a helmet have a 29 percent better chance of surviving a crash than riders without a helmet.The hearing test showed that there were no significant differences in the riders' ability to hear the auditory signals regardless of whether they were wearing a helmet or not. There was a difference, however, in the hearing threshold between travel speeds of 30 and 50mph. At the greater speed, all riders needed a louder auditory signal because of increased wind noise.

November 15, 2009

Fire Expert Witness On What Fire Scene Responders Need To Know Part 1

In What Fire Scene Responders Need to Know in Tough Economic Times (Part 1), fire expert witness and Principal of Pyrocop Inc., Robert Rowe writes:

Fire investigation is one of the most difficult of the forensic sciences to practice and as the motivations for arson increase, so too may the need for professional investigators. In most forensic disciplines, even the basic question of whether a crime has been committed is in most cases obvious. However, unlike most crime scenes, a fire scene requires a thorough and systematic examination to determine the cause as arson.

A fire investigator must closely evaluate the evidence that is left behind after a fire and, from that evidence, glean as much information as possible to reconstruct the chain of events that occurred in the moments leading up to the fire.

As fires can be caused by or involve most things people see or use, the role of a fire investigator requires a multidisciplinary base. A fire investigator is required to have a full understanding of not only basic science of fire behavior, but knowledge of different areas of study including construction, electricity, human behavior, and vehicles.

When a fire appears to be suspicious, it is critical that those who first walk into a fire scene have the basic tools necessary to identify indicators of a suspicious fire and know the necessary steps they must take to:

1. Preserve the evidence and
2. Make the appropriate notifications to request a Professional Fire Investigator

With the recent wave of home mortgage foreclosures one begins to question whether or not there may be a link between arson and trends in the economy, particularly recessions. In hard times, it is not unusual for local fire officials and insurance adjusters in some communities to report apparent jumps in some types of arson.

November 14, 2009

Mortgages Expert Witness On Loan Underwriting Part 5

In Basic Characteristics And “Life” of Residential Mortgage Loans mortgages expert witness J. F. "Chip" Morrow writes:

The underwriter must also evaluate the character risk of the borrower. Statistics have shown that past satisfactory payment credit history indicates with high probability that the prospective borrower will make future payments including this new loan. The underwriter analyzes the prospective borrower’s credit history by obtaining a Residential Mortgage Credit Report (“Credit Report”). This Credit Report includes the prospective borrower’s credit histories for the last seven years. This includes credit histories for credit cards, automobile loans, student loans, other home loans, etc., as well as negative credit information including bankruptcies, notices of default, foreclosures and public records. As a requirement of the Credit Report, it must contain at least two of the three borrower’s FICO scores ─ Fair Isaac Score, Beacon Score and Empirica.

A FICO score is a numerical value that ranges between 300 and 850, with the low end of the scale representing a poorer credit risk. Loan entities then use the borrower’s FICO score to chart whether or not a prospective borrower is eligible to receive a mortgage. During the underwriting process, the underwriter must continually be aware of the “red flags” that indicate that the borrower may have problems repaying the loan, that the borrower may not qualify for the type of mortgage loan being sought or that there may be fraud. Freddie Mac has put out a guide called Fraud Prevention Best Practices that outlines these red flags for the various documentation provided by the borrower, the appraiser and the credit reporting agencies.

For example, among the 15 red flags for a mortgage loan application are significant or contradictory changes in debt from the initial to final application and a non-purchasing spouse.
For credit reports, among the 17 red flags are employment cannot be verified by a credit bureau, recent inquiries from other mortgage lenders and indebtedness discussed on the mortgage application varies from that reflected on the credit report.

November 13, 2009

Insurance Claims Expert Witness On Assignments Part 3

In When the Phone Rings ... Twelve Questions for Prospective Expert Witness Assignments, insurance claims expert witness Kevin M. Quinley, CPCU, ARM, AIC writes:

Consultants and expert witnesses are more used to answering questions than asking them. When the phone rings, there may be an attorney or prospective client on the other end of the line. He or she poses questions to the consultant or expert, trying to gauge whether there is a good “fit” between the client’s needs and what the practitioner can offer in the way of experience and expertise. After answering prospective clients’ questions, effective consultants and expert witnesses may have some queries of their own. In fact, they should. Here are 12 questions that can form the basis of an effective fact-gathering process which unearths aspects of a case to help the consultant and expert witness gauge the degree of fit:
(3) Who is the opposing party? (Any conflict?) You can avoid wasting time if you find out up front that you have a conflict, or clear the decks for a possible retention by confirming that you don’t. As an example, I was recently approached about the possibility of serving as an expert witness concerning an insurance coverage dispute. The dispute was between a large medical device manufacturer and one of its excess insurers. I have never represented the medical company, but I do own shares of its stock. I disclosed this quickly to the inquiring attorneys. Neither they (nor I) feel it is a conflict, but I would rather have them make that call early on.

Kevin M. Quinley is a leading authority on insurance issues, including risk management, claims, bad faith, coverages and litigation management. He is the author of more than 600 articles and 10 books. You can reach him through http://www.insuranceexpertnetwork.com/.

November 12, 2009

Risk Management Expert Witness Testifies In Real Estate Value Class Action Suit

Risk management expert witness Robert Maughan testifed on the damage real estate values sustained in Port Colborne, Ontario, Canada, as a result of historical contamination at the Inco refinery. The class action suit against the nickel giant led by Eric Gillespie on behalf on the plaintiff wants to establish the correlation between neighborhood property contamination, which first came to light in 2000, and falling real estate values in the city following Inco's disclosure.

The expert witness is a program manager of risk management services for financial markets at Teranet and relied heavily on Teranet's Real Estate Automated Value (REAV) System from 2005 forward and actual selling prices and MLS listings back to 1998 to chart market impacts in Port Colborne. His data showed a definite market downturn on real estate after 2000 when compared to the neighboring municipalities of Fort Erie and Welland.

Excerpted from www.wellandtribune.ca

November 11, 2009

Document Examination Expert Witness On Examination of Copied Documents Part 1

In Is it Fabricated?, document examination expert witness Ronald N. Morris writes on what material can be on a copy in addition to the material on the original.

First, copies may include toner reproduction of scratches, trash, dirt, etc., found on the glass or drum. Based on the examination and evaluation of the copy, original being copied, and the copier, it may be possible to determine the source of these extraneous marks and features on the copy. Second, photocopies are not always able to reproduce:

a. All of the qualities and features of the original writing, i.e, delicate and lightly written strokes found in normal, natural writing; and occasionally found in patching and retouching of individual strokes, letters, fine tremor movements, stroke direction, substituted letters, etc. Notwithstanding the improvement in copier design, image processing, and reproduction, copiers still do not exactly reproduce all of these qualities and features. If the copy is a first generation copy, the copy quality is typically better than that of a second, third or fourth generation copy.

November 10, 2009

Toxicology Experts & California Courthouse Lawsuits

A settlement has been struck in a group of lawsuits filed by 190 people who claimed they were injured by working around asbestos and other dangerous materials during remodeling at the Salinas, CA, Courthouse. The plaintiffs — courthouse employees, attorneys, a judge and others who worked in the north courthouse wing — all will receive compensation under the omnibus settlement reached during the past few months, an attorney said Thursday. The large number of plaintiffs and defendants and the two-year duration of the construction work being scrutinized were complicating factors. Attorneys were just beginning their work with expert witnesses.

Terms of the settlement were confidential, though one estimate put the total around $5 million.
The settlement covers plaintiffs in three separate lawsuits, later rolled into a single case being heard by Judge Barry Hammer of San Luis Obispo County. The case was moved earlier this year to Santa Clara County at the request of the main defendants, a pair of construction management companies. The courthouse workers and other plaintiffs claimed they were exposed to asbestos, toxic dust and other hazardous materials that were released into the air by demolition work in 2005 and 2006.

Excerpted from montereyherald.com.

November 9, 2009

Equipment & Machinery Expert Witness On Machine Tool Guard Risk Assessment Part 2

In MACHINE TOOL GUARD RISK ASSESSMENT, equipment and machinery expert witness
Kenneth Knott, Ph.D., P.E., Product Liability Dynamics, Inc., writes:

There are three times in the life cycle of a machine tool when it is useful to be able to assess the level of risk associated with the machine guarding system. First, it helps the designer of a machine tool to predict reasonably foreseeable accidents and provide the best means of avoiding them. Secondly, to encourage operating managers and personnel promote safe working conditions. Finally, to help attorneys and expert witnesses, should litigation ensure as a result of an accident associated with the machine safe guarding system.

There is an extensive body of published literature relating to risk assessment. A large part of this literature is so academic and complex that the general user will be unlikely to understand, use or even find interesting. However, well known techniques have been used in practice to analyze and evaluate the risks associated with designs and activities.

November 8, 2009

Insurance Claims Expert Witness On Assignments Part 2

In When the Phone Rings ... Twelve Questions for Prospective Expert Witness Assignments, insurance claims expert witness Kevin M. Quinley, CPCU, ARM, AIC writes:

Consultants and expert witnesses are more used to answering questions than asking them. When the phone rings, there may be an attorney or prospective client on the other end of the line. He or she poses questions to the consultant or expert, trying to gauge whether there is a good “fit” between the client’s needs and what the practitioner can offer in the way of experience and expertise. After answering prospective clients’ questions, effective consultants and expert witnesses may have some queries of their own. In fact, they should. Here are 12 questions that can form the basis of an effective fact-gathering process which unearths aspects of a case to help the consultant and expert witness gauge the degree of fit:
(2) Do you represent the plaintiff or the defendant? This can be useful to know if you are trying to “balance” your practice and representation between plaintiffs and defendants. If you can strike a balance, you better the odds against opposing counsel painting you as a biased gun for hire. For example, thus far my insurance claim practice in litigation support has been split almost evenly down the middle — half for policyholders and half for insurers. If you have a preference and comfort level in representing one particular side in your area of expertise, this question brings that factor to the surface, inviting you to weigh it when deciding whether the case is a good fit with your interests and expertise.

Kevin M. Quinley is a leading authority on insurance issues, including risk management, claims, bad faith, coverages and litigation management. He is the author of more than 600 articles and 10 books. You can reach him through http://www.insuranceexpertnetwork.com/.

November 7, 2009

Civil Engineering Expert Witness On Champlain Bridge

The half-mile-long Champlain Bridge was abruptly closed as structurally unsafe Oct.16 when engineers learned the 80-year-old massive concrete piers were rotting away just below the waterline. Underwater diving inspections of the piers was done every five years but gave no advance hint at the rapid deterioration to come. Skip Carrier, a state Transportation Department spokesman, said that in the last four years, the amount of missing and rotted concrete in two of the 10-foot-thick piers went from 10 inches to 3 feet.

Civil engineering expert Norbert Delatte said a test may have been able to find the problem before it got so bad. The expert is a professional engineer and professor at Cleveland State University in Ohio and said the the "ultrasonic pulse test is not cheap, but it is a lot cheaper than what is going to have to happen now." An ultrasonic pulse acts like a kind of sonar. An electrical transmitter is placed against concrete and emits a sound wave, which travels through the concrete and bounces back to a receiver. An engineer can analyze the resulting signal to determine the condition of the concrete.

Delatte is an expert on bridge failure, and is the editor of the American Society of Civil Engineers Journal of Professional Issues in Engineering Education and Practice. He reviewed DOT diving inspection records for 2000, 2003 and 2005 provided by the Times Union.

Read more: http://www.timesunion.com

November 6, 2009

Zoning & Land Use Expert Witness On Successfully Locating A Retail Store Part 4

In Successfully Locating A Business, zoning and land use expert witness John J. Wallace writes on a retailer's biggest challenge:

Finally, in considering a store location, think long and hard about your neighbors. These days a good "tenant mix" underlies the success of major malls, as well as some shopping centers. Again, complementary tenants create youth market and convenience-oriented side malls at Stanford Shopping Center. In one of the courts of Costa Mesa’s South Coast Plaza, a cluster of kid’s shops situated around a carousel ranks among the strongest children-oriented retail destinations in the country.

But some effective tenant mixes are not so obvious. For example, note the preponderance of shoe retailers in large malls anchored by department stores. Rather than cannibalizing each other’s business, these neighboring stores offer a variety that is appealing to comparison shoppers. Restaurant owners have learned the same lesson, and a collection of nearby eateries can coalesce into a successful "dining destination" (much like the food courts in many centers and malls).

By combining restaurants, multi-screen cinemas, bookstores and other complementary retailers, several centers have created distinct and impressive "night out" destinations. Only a few years ago, multi-screen cinemas located in single-purpose developments, usually surrounded by parking and nothing else. With the enormous success of mixing theaters with other forms of entertainment retailers, most new cinema construction in California now combines restaurants and complementary entertainment/lifestyle tenants.

November 5, 2009

Medical Expert Witness On Medical Malpractice Part 8

In Medical Malpractice Overview, medical expert witness Eugene DeBlasio writes on breaches of doctor-patient confidentiality:

Doctor-patient confidentiality is based upon the general principle that a person seeking medical help or advice should not be hindered or inhibited by fear that his or her medical concerns or conditions will be disclosed to others. There is generally an expectation that the physician will hold that special knowledge in confidence and use it exclusively for the benefit of the patient.

The professional duty of confidentiality covers not only what a patient may reveal to the doctor, but also what a doctor may independently conclude or form an opinion about, based on his or her examination or ASSESSMENT of the patient. Confidentiality covers all medical records (including x-rays, lab-reports, etc.) as well as communications between patient and doctor and generally includes communications between the patient and other professional staff working with the doctor.

The duty of confidentiality continues even after a patient has stopped seeing or being treated by the doctor. Once a doctor is under a duty of confidentiality, he or she cannot divulge any medical information about patients to third persons without patients' consent. There are limited exceptions to this, including disclosures to state health officials. However, unauthorized disclosure to unauthorized parties may create a cause of action against the doctor.

November 4, 2009

Equipment & Machinery Expert Witness On Machine Tool Guard Risk Assessment Part 1

In MACHINE TOOL GUARD RISK ASSESSMENT, equipment and machinery expert witness
Kenneth Knott, Ph.D., P.E., Product Liability Dynamics, Inc., writes:

Citing official statistics for 1997, a paper by Windau 1 showed that 45% of the 189 industrial fatalities due to workers being caught in machinery in 1997 were in the manufacturing sector. Furthermore, 65% of the total fatalities occurred when workers were either operating or performing general unspecified maintenance on a machine. The paper by Windau referred to above did not address the amputations, other severe injuries, or “near misses” associated with the failure or absence of effective guards.

Consensual standards relative to the safe design of machine tool guards have been published by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and others. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has also issued statutory regulations on this matter. Nevertheless, it is clear that accidents involving machine tool guards continue to be a significant risk to machine tool
operators.

November 3, 2009

Insurance Claims Expert Witness On Assignments Part 1

In When the Phone Rings ... Twelve Questions for Prospective Expert Witness Assignments, insurance claims expert witness Kevin M. Quinley, CPCU, ARM, AIC writes:

Consultants and expert witnesses are more used to answering questions than asking them. When the phone rings, there may be an attorney or prospective client on the other end of the line. He or she poses questions to the consultant or expert, trying to gauge whether there is a good “fit” between the client’s needs and what the practitioner can offer in the way of experience and expertise. After answering prospective clients’ questions, effective consultants and expert witnesses may have some queries of their own. In fact, they should. Here are 12 questions that can form the basis of an effective fact-gathering process which unearths aspects of a case to help the consultant and expert witness gauge the degree of fit:
(1) What does the case involve? This is a threshold question to assess whether the subject
matter of the case falls within your area of expertise. If you are a nephrologist and the issue
involves hematology, this is a tip-off that the caller may need a different expert. If you are an authority on agent errors and omissions but the case involves an underwriting mistake, it may not lodge in your “sweet spot.” Best for you to know this before investing time burrowing down fruitless rabbit trails. Or maybe the answer will confirm that the matter is well within your wheelhouse.

Kevin M. Quinley is a leading authority on insurance issues, including risk management, claims, bad faith, coverages and litigation management. He is the author of more than 600 articles and 10 books. You can reach him through http://www.insuranceexpertnetwork.com/.

November 2, 2009

IEN Bad Faith Expert Witnesses Define Bad Faith Claim

Bad faith expert witnesses at Insurance Expert Network define Bad Faith Claim:

A term describing blatantly unfair conduct that exceeds mere negligence by an insurance company. For example, a bad faith claim may arise if an auto liability insurer arbitrarily refuses to settle a claim within policy limits, where an insured's liability is incontrovertible. Bad faith damages, also known as extracontractual damages, are often substantial. They frequently exceed the limits of the insurance policy that is the subject of the claim.

November 2, 2009

Gotham City Expert Witness Group Schedule

The Gotham City Networking Expert Witness Group offers networking opportunities and monthly speaker/topic or group discussions on topics of interest to fellow experts. Scheduled meetings are Nov.16, Dec.14, Jan.11, Feb.8, Mar.15, May 20, June 21, Sept.13, Oct.18, Nov.15 and Dec.13, all at 12:15pm at Fabio Piccolo Fiore's Italian Restaurant (230 E.44th between 2nd and 3rd Ave.).

Please contact group leader Gerald M. Goldhaber directly to visit a monthly luncheon meeting.

Gerald M. Goldhaber, Ph.D.
President and CEO
GRA, LLC
(212)379-6661 (O)
(917)279-2303 (Cell)
www.goldhaber.com

November 1, 2009

Zoning & Land Use Expert Witness On Successfully Locating A Retail Store Part 4

In Successfully Locating A Business, zoning and land use expert witness John J. Wallace writes on a retailer's biggest challenge:

Spend time in the center, to take note of who is there during the day, in the evening and on the weekends. Pay attention to the clothes shoppers wear and to the cars they drive. Also read over the shopping center’s own surveys and studies. The sum of these impressions and data gathered should give you a reasonable idea of the trade area and the true shopper demographics.

In analyzing its trade area, shipping center managers often commission surveys. The typical result is a demographic profile indicating, for example, that the "average shopper" is a 44-year-old woman who lives within five miles of the center...and so on. Such a study may be of limited help in selecting a retail site. A more detailed view of a trade area reflects an understanding of lifestyles and how these change over time.

In evaluating a center, it is worth asking, "Who are the people shopping here?" Will they really be spending money at your store? It is only a starting point to know that a mall targets "households within a 10-mile radius, with an average income of $75,000 per year." The fact is that all households earning $75,000 are not alike in their tastes and needs. Take a single young professional, a retired couple and a working couple with three children. These three households all may have identical incomes -- but they will spend their money very differently!