November 29, 2010

Real Estate Expert Witness On The Almost Paperless Office Part 1

In How we created an almost paperless real estate expert office, real estate expert witness Merrie Turner Lightner writes:

In truth, the “paperless office” was just another fantasy. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t cut down on our paper use, and there’s never been a better time to Green your office. Today, the Internet, cloud computing, better software and hardware and lower costs have aligned to help our business reduce our paper-print on the world, while improving our work product. Case-in-point: With 26 years as a professional property manager, I expanded my business to serve as an expert witness in real estate disputes over a decade ago. To be involved in litigation is to swim in a pool of paper.

One day, a delivery truck swamped our office with box-loads of evidence. With sagging office floors and no empty filing cabinets within sight, we needed to apply the technologies we had used to improve our property management operation to my expert witness work. And we needed to make it accessible to outside attorneys and other experts.

Two years of trial and error resulted in a shared working platform that’s efficient, easy to use, flexible and almost paperless. Grueling as it was, it was also beneficial. In the end, we developed a powerhouse of tightly integrated, supportive and redundantly designed tools. They are client-centric while aligned with company policies. And each element of this electronic equation is essential to the ultimate success of our almost paperless office.

November 28, 2010

Collision Analysis Expert Witness On Black Box Data

Collision analysis expert witness A. Zhukov, Ph.D., describes what type of stored data may be retrieved in a “black box” using Vetronix Crash Data Retrieval Tool (CDR Tool).

The CDR Tool is capable of harvesting information from vehicle’s SDM and RCM. The device records data on a laptop PC which could later be transferred to any other device, if needed. Recorded data depends on vehicle make, model and year. The following data is typical of what is found on a newer GM vehicle:

* Vehicle speed ( 5 seconds before impact )
* Engine speed ( 5 seconds before impact )
* Brake status ( 5 seconds before impact )
* Throttle position ( 5 seconds before impact )
* State of driver's seat belt switch (On/Off)
* Passenger's air bag enabled or disabled state (On/Off)
* SIR Warning Lamp status (On/Off)
* Time from vehicle impact to air bag deployment
* Ignition cycle count at event time
* Ignition cycle count at investigation
* Maximum delta-V for non-deployment event
* delta-V vs. time for frontal air bag deployment event
* Time from vehicle impact to time of maximum delta-V

November 27, 2010

Medical Malpractice Expert Witness On Chest Pain Part 5

In Chest Pain & Medical Malpractice, medical malpractice expert witness Barry Gustin, M.D. writes:

As you can see, the evaluation of chest pain is often highly subjective and imperfect. The differential diagnosis of chest pain alone (approximately 20 common and 15 not so common entities) is enough to dazzle and amaze any attorney as he/she strives to understand the facts of the case. It is no surprising that 20% of malpractice dollar losses by emergency physicians in the US involve the diagnosis and management of patients with acute chest pain.

The only way to make sense of any medical case, especially the complex one, is to have a knowledgeable physician review it an give you the medical insight and understanding you seek.

The physician should be an experienced, board-certified full-time practicing clinician with substantial medical-legal experience who can review the medical records objectively without a particular bias for or against plaintiff or defendant physicians. The weaknesses and strengths of your case will be made clear to you and you will know whether the case should be dropped or litigated.

November 26, 2010

Accident Reconstruction Expert Witnesses

Construction Accident Reconstruction, 2d edition, by Calvin Zemsky, P.E., and Jon R. Abele Esq, contains data and statistics about fatal and non-fatal construction accidents, OSHA Rules and Regulations, Life/Safety Codes and discussions of many construction accident investigations.

Litigation relating to construction site accidents appear on the court dockets of every judicial district throughout the country. The number of lawsuits filed because of accidents has grown year after year. Until now there has been no single place for a person to obtain the information of what a forensic engineer / accident reconstruction expert witness does when reconstructing an accident. This book, now in its second edition, fills that void. It has been updated and expanded throughout by Jon Abele, Esq. It also allows attorneys to learn the basics of forensic engineering while providing guidance to accident reconstructionists on how to conduct an investigation into a construction worksite accident.

November 25, 2010

Dram Shop Expert Witness On Improving Public Safety Part 5

In Dram Shop Laws – Improving Public Safety, dram shop expert witness Maj. Mark Willingham of Alcohol Solutions, LLC, writes:

The phase dram shop is based on a unit of measure popular in Victorian times; approximately 1/8th of an ounce in our vernacular, and has become synonymous with a prohibition on the over-service of beverage alcohol to a patron or guest. The principal purpose of dram shop laws is to protect the public; and even the drinker himself, from the over-service or over-consumption of beverage alcohol and from the service of alcohol to persons under 21 years of age. This law calls upon beverage licensees and their employees to play a significant role in the enforcement of this important public policy. No other business type comes to mind where the holder of a government license; by acceptance of that license, is required to act as an agent of the state in taking affirmative action to monitor and intercede in the behavior of a citizen/business invitee.

Responsible retailing involves the development and implementation of effective alcohol service policies, practices, employee training and management systems. These elements are the keys to responsible retailing and the prevention of acts and situations leading to a dram shop lawsuit. Conversely, irresponsible beverage retailers do not employ these elements or they have developed ineffective policies, practices, training and management systems that fall below a reasonable standard of care.

November 24, 2010

Risk Management Expert Witnesses

Risk management expert witnesses may provide testimony regarding value at risk, risk management plans, and the risk management process. The Professional Risk Managers' International Association, an independent association of professional risk managers from diverse industries in more than 150 countries uses the following definition in their Principles of Good Governance:

Governance - The framework of authority for an organization within which its institutional objectives are pursued and within which risk management operates.

Risk - Unknown future circumstances that alter the value or well‐being of an organization or system.

Risk Event - The realization of a specific circumstance that decreases (but could unexpectedly increase) the value or well‐being of an organization or system.

Risk Management- The process of evaluating the potential impact of risk events and shaping business decisions in light of this evaluation.

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November 23, 2010

Livestock Production Expert Witnesses

Livestock production expert witnesses may opine on growth hormones,livestock diseases, and related topics. Here, the EPA writes on Animal Feeding Operations (AFO):

AFOs are agricultural operations where animals are kept and raised in confined situations. AFOs generally congregate animals, feed, manure, dead animals, and production operations on a small land area. Feed is brought to the animals rather than the animals grazing or otherwise seeking feed in pastures. Animal waste and wastewater can enter water bodies from spills or breaks of waste storage structures (due to accidents or excessive rain), and non-agricultural application of manure to crop land.

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November 22, 2010

Aerosols Expert Witnesses & What Are Aerosols Anyway?

Aerosols expert witnesses may write reports and opine on aerosol sprays, airborne solid particles, and household chemicals. The National Aerosol Association writes: Let’s Set the Record Straight on Aerosols!

Q. What are aerosols, anyway?

A. Aerosols are very fine particles of liquid or solid substances suspended in air. Fog, for example, is a normal aerosol. In aerosol packaging, the substance to be sprayed is propelled through a valve as a fine mist or foam. This provides a safe, efficient means of dispensing thousands of consumer products such as shaving cream, hair spray, paint and antiperspirants.

Q. How long have aerosols been around?

A. Sixty-five years ago, U.S. Department of Agriculture scientists developed the principle of pressurized insect spray. This gave birth to the container used by American troops to fight malaria by killing mosquitoes in the South Pacific during World War II. Today’s lightweight low-pressure can is a direct descendant of those ponderous, high-pressure canisters. Refinements to containers, valves, propellants and formulas have broadened the range of aerosol products and widened consumer acceptance. Aerosol-related jobs now employ over 50,000 Americans.

November 22, 2010

Construction Site Expert Witness On Case Documents

In Documents, Documents and More Documents, construction site expert witness writes:

Some cases have as few documents as 50 to 100 pages for an expert to review, while others have thousands. When choosing an expert witness for a case, an astute attorney needs to consider whether the case will have a large volume of pages of documents and/or evidence.

The reality is that, while an expert may have the qualifications and expertise for the case, not all experts are equipped to document, catalog or evaluate large volumes of documents and evidence efficiently or properly -- this requires a qualified and trained staff. “The devil is in the details,” and thousands of pages to review means thousands of details, all potentially significant.

I have had cases in which there were in excess of 80,000 pages of documents and exhibits. Yes, I said eighty- thousand pages. The sheer volume of documents requires that my staff carefully catalog each page. We start by scanning each page into a database using a high-volume scanner, and then add tags, keywords, Bates numbers and other identifiers. While this is time-consuming work up front, it saves countless expert labor hours later in the process. Upon completion of this process, I am able to pull up any document and see links to related documents and exhibits instantly, which assures accurate, detailed analysis and review of the documents in an efficient manner. It also allows for fast and accurate citing of evidence during the expert report writing process. A detailed catalog is instantly generated and updated including a compact disc (CD), which links to the actual PDF scanned documents. One click and the document I want to see is instantly before my eyes, with no more hunting or searching through file after file of hard copies.

If your case involves thousands of pages of documents, be sure to ask the prospective expert if he or she has the knowledge, staff and capability to provide you with just such a vital system of document management.

William Gulya, Jr., President & CEO, Middlesex Trenching Company for more than 35 years, specializes in excavation & construction site preparation

November 21, 2010

Bicycle Safety Expert Witnesses & Helmets

Bicycle expert witnesses may write reports and opine on bicycle safety, bicycle accidents, and bicycle helmets. In Precious Protection, writes on helmets:

Helmet designers have learned a lot in 60 years. You might notice that, for instance, the sides of your lid have more material, because, according to Thom Parks, vice president of corporate a! airs at Bell Sports, scientists know that, "Getting hit from the side is more likely to concuss than from the front or rear." He also says that helmets are designed to protect against impacts to the temporal bone "above and to the rear of the eye, which is the thinnest part of the skull and more easily broken."

These are just a few of the examples of how modern helmets are far safer than those from even a decade ago. Further proof that helmets are safe: Don't wear one and you die. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), since 1998 thousands of people have died in bicycle accidents, more than 90 percent of whom weren't wearing helmets. In 2008, IIHS stats show that 714 cyclists were killed. Only 58 of those cyclists were wearing helmets. The rest, 656, were lidless.

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November 21, 2010

Medical Malpractice Expert Witness On Chest Pain Part 4

In Chest Pain & Medical Malpractice, medical malpractice expert witness Barry Gustin, M.D. writes:

The quality and quantity of pain itself is highly variable and in some situations may be totally absent and yet an AMI be in progress. Blunted pain responses commonly seen with underlying chronic disease in elderly patients frequently mask AMI and can stear a complacent physician away from the true diagnosis. These patients may present with other symptoms and signs indicative of serious disease such as sweating at rest, increasing fatigue with less activity and shortness of breath. Physicians must maintain a high index of suspicion and entertain a full range of differential diagnosis when evaluating patients.

Other factors can complicate the decision making process such as the stoic patient with chest pain who wishes to leave the ER before receiving a complete evaluation. In this setting, it is important that the family be included in the evaluation so that all clinically relevant information is obtained. Enlisting the family's participation may also ensure that the patient does not leave the ER prematurely. But even if such a patient refuses admission and the physician is concerned about the possibility of serious disease, a compromise can be struck and the patient can be convinced to stay temporarily in the ER while repeated exams are performed and serial ECGs and cardiac enzymes are obtained thereby increasing the likelihood of detecting acute myocardial disease.

November 20, 2010

Truck Manufacturing Industry Expert Witnesses

Truck manufacturing industry expert witnesses may opine on commercial motor vehicles, trucking regulatory matters and related issues. The Truck Manufacturers Association website offers an interactive map with the following information and more:

Where are the medium and heavy-duty truck manufacturing plants?

Ford Motor Company
- Ford Commercial Truck
Daimler Trucks North America LLC
- Freightliner Trucks
- Western Star Trucks
Navistar, Inc.
- International Trucks
Isuzu Commercial Truck of America
- Isuzu Truck
- Kenworth Truck
- Peterbilt Motors
Volvo Group North America
- Volvo Trucks North America
- Mack Trucks, Inc.

November 20, 2010

Call Center Industry Expert Witnesses

Call center industry expert witnesses may opine on telemarketing, call center agents, computer telephony integration, and related topics. In their white paper Data Security for Call Centers, Jim Beuoy & Dan WernerOKS-Ameridial Worldwide write:

The Payment Card Industry may not have direct regulatory authority over call centers, but it is safe to say that if data is compromised while in your center’s possession, someone is going to be very unhappy! Technically, credit card companies have a contract with the financial institutions that end up processing / posting credit card charges. Failure to comply with the PCI security standard can result in substantial fines and permanent expulsion from card acceptance programs. Call centers should be concerned because the PCI standards require that the financial institutions hold their down-line support services (i.e., the actual merchant and the other service providers) in compliance with the standards.

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November 20, 2010

Expert Witness Marketing Coach Part 2

In Your Competitive Advantage, expert witness marketing consultant Rosalie Hamilton writes:

After objectively assessing your own strengths and weaknesses, determine your competitive advantage. Is your education or professional experience superior? If you are not a novice, have you handled a greater number of cases, or bigger or more successful cases, or have you worked with prestigious law firms? Do you present yourself more professionally or appear more credible? Are there exclusive dimensions to your expertise? What comprises your personal uniqueness and, therefore, your competitive edge?

A competitive advantage can be merely a perceived advantage. You can use this to your benefit. A large engineering firm may have many different specialties of engineers, along with its own testing facilities. Alternately, a sole practitioner engineer can promote himself as being more responsive to the attorney, more personally involved in each case, and possibly less costly. Learn to articulate your competitive advantage in a professional manner.

— Excerpted from The Expert Witness Marketing Book by Rosalie Hamilton.

November 20, 2010

Engineering Expert Witness On Pressurized Vessel Dangers Part 2

Engineering expert witness Philip J. O'Keefe, PE, writes that pressurized vessels can pose a danger for various reasons.

Perhaps the most obvious source of danger posed by a pressurized vessel is when its contents rapidly and violently discharge. This scenario presents the same hazards mentioned above, coupled with dangers associated with flying objects and shock waves. For example, if a pressure vessel is not securely held in place and it fails, the rapid release of its contents could literally turn it into a missile careening out of control.

I happened to be in close proximity to one of these “unintentional flying objects” one day. The valve broke off an unsecured pressurized gas cylinder of the type that welders use. Its gas escaped with sufficient force to cause the cylinder to fly across a concrete floor and crash through a cinderblock wall. The violent and rapid release of a pressure vessel’s contents also has the potential to create shock waves strong enough to move heavy objects and people, capable of catapulting them through the air.

So it’s obvious then that the release of substances from a failed pressure vessel can lead to serious problems, but are there ways to prevent these failures from happening? Yes, there are. We’ll discuss that subject in my next installment where we will discuss, among other things, “overpressure devices.”

November 19, 2010

Dram Shop Expert Witness On Improving Public Safety Part 4

In Dram Shop Laws – Improving Public Safety, dram shop expert witness Maj. Mark Willingham of Alcohol Solutions, LLC, writes:

Standards for dram shop lawsuits vary widely among states. Those standards include prohibitions of service to intoxicated, visibly intoxicated or obviously intoxicated patrons or when it should have been known that the patron was intoxicated. One state prohibits service to a drunken person in a criminally negligent manner. Another allows a civil action when the service was to a person clearly intoxicated. Several states require proof that the alcohol service was done in a reckless manner or that the alcohol was provided with reckless disregard to the rights of others. Other states require proof that the patron was intoxicated to the extent he or she presented a clear and present danger to self or other. Florida allows a dram shop action only when the alcohol service was to someone habitually addicted to alcohol. This standard is particularly difficult because alcoholics do not carry or present identification cards identifying them as such and rarely make self-admissions to bartenders.

November 19, 2010

Risk Management Expert Witnesses

Risk management expert witnesses may provide reports regarding value at risk, risk management plans, the risk management process, and more. The Professional Risk Manager's Association explains that best practice governance and risk management do not attempt to eliminate risk.

Rather, they are designed to help organizations maximize the risk‐adjusted return on capital whilst, at the same time, transforming uncertainty ‐ which is unmanageable and unmeasurable ‐ into risk, which can be identified, assessed and may be measurable.

Decision‐making in business is predicated on a belief in potential rewards, balanced with the knowledge, understanding and appreciation of all of the risks taken to pursue those potential rewards. The key individuals involved in governance and risk management (see section IV of this document) have a responsibility to stakeholders, including the general public, as well as to financial stability. They must ensure that they do not give disproportionate weight to personal gain, or to the benefit of the organization, to the detriment of public good and of financial stability.

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November 18, 2010

Risk Assessment Expert Witnesses & Financial Decisions

Risk assessment expert witnesses may opine on risk analysis, enterprise risk management, financial risk management, and related topics.

Financial decisions, such as insurance, express loss in terms of dollar amounts. When risk assessment is used for public health or environmental decisions, loss can be quantified in a common metric, such as a country's currency, or some numerical measure of a location's quality of life. For public health and environmental decisions, loss is simply a verbal description of the outcome, such as increased cancer incidence or incidence of birth defects.

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November 18, 2010

Computer Expert Witnesses & Computer Crimes Part 3

In Testifying as an expert witness in computer crimes cases, Deb Shinder writes:

To testify as an expert, you must be formally qualified and accepted as such by the judge presiding over the case. This qualification process is generally “on the record,” with questions asked of the witness in court to establish his/her expert status (this is called a voir dire examination). Because juries tend to believe whatever a professed expert says without question, judges must be convinced that you are competent, knowledgeable, and credible before allowing you to testify. To establish you as an expert, the attorney that is calling you to testify will ask you questions about your education and training, skills and experience, awards and recognitions, and so forth. Some factors that help to establish your expertise include:

* Advanced academic degrees or advanced training in your field.
* Area(s) of specialization within the field.
* Recognition as a teacher, lecturer or trainer in your field.
* Professional licenses, if applicable.
* Membership in professional organizations; positions of leadership within such organizations.
* Publication of articles, books, and other materials, especially peer-reviewed works.
* Long-term work experience in your field.
* Technical certifications.
* Awards and recognitions within the industry.

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November 17, 2010

Aerosols Expert Witnesses & How Aerosols Work

Aerosols expert witnesses may write reports and opine on aerosol sprays, airborne solid particles, and household chemicals. The National Aerosol Association describes how an aerosol works:

The aerosol package is a self-contained dispensing system with three main elements:
1. Active Ingredients (soap or disinfectant, etc.)
2. Inert or Inactive ingredients (water)
3. Propellant

The propellant is a gaseous compound which pushes the product out of the container and produces a spray or foam. In most cases, the propellant also acts as a solvent to keep the product at the proper strength. In the United States, the most common propellants are naturally occurring hydrocarbons. A few products, about 10% of today’s aerosols, use compressed gases like carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide as propellants.

The final element is the container, which is usually a steel or aluminum can. The leak-proof can protects the product from contamination and evaporation.

All of these pieces work together based on simple scientific principles. An aerosol package is an air-tight, pressurized container. Pressing the actuator button opens the valve. Since the pressure outside the can is less that the pressure inside, the propellant expands, pushing the product up the dip tube and out through the valve. This system allows the product to be applied in a variety of ways; in a fine mist, a metered spray delivering just the right amount, foam, or even a long distance spray.

November 17, 2010

Architecture Expert Witness On Turnover Condition Reports

In New or Existing Building Turnover to Condo Ownership, architecture expert witness David E. Chase writes that no matter how many units are involved, a future condominium association should consider both the physical and financial status of any new or existing complex before Turnover to assume full ownership.

There are two areas of inquiry. Financially, what will be the required dollar reserves provided from the developer to the association and physically, what are the benchmark building and site improvement conditions at this point in time? Make no mistake, Turnover is the absolute factual benchmark in time which will forever trigger future responsibilities, financial obligations and duties by all parties to the Turnover process.

For instance, perhaps you are interested in purchasing a unit in a newly constructed condominium and you need to test the long term viability of your investment. What will be the capital building reserve responsibilities of the new condominium association after the developer turns the project over to the new individual owners. Or suppose for the last 15 years you have lived in a rental apartment complex that recently was purchased by a developer, intending to convert it to condominium ownership. What are the responsibilities of the developer to prepare the complex for a future condominium sale.

To begin with the association should retain the services of a licensed Architect or Engineer to perform a Turnover Condition Report to establish not only the actual status of the improvement as a benchmark in time , that includes the physical condition of building systems in the common spaces and individual units, but also to "test" the applicable building codes. To be clear, this Turnover Condition Report should not be confused with a "punch list" which contains a list of items to be completed, repaired, refurbished and/or replaced, prior to first occupancy of the project. Usually a "punch list" is required by the financial institution funding the construction phase, to authorize final payment to the developer and contractor(s).

November 16, 2010

Bicycle Safety Expert Witnesses

Bicycle safety expert witnesses may opine on bicycle design, bicycle maintenance, bicycle safet, and related topics. Here, the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute discusses Bicycle Helmet Standards:

Summary: The Consumer Product Safety Commission bike helmet standard is required by law in the US. Some of the Snell Memorial Foundation standards are a bit more difficult to pass, but are not often used. American Society for Testing and Materials continues to produce standards for other activities such as skating, skiing and downhill bicycle racing. Australia, Canada, Europe and others have bicycle helmet standards as well, and we discuss them below.

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November 16, 2010

Medical Malpractice Expert Witness On Chest Pain Part 3

In Chest Pain & Medical Malpractice, medical malpractice expert witness Barry Gustin, M.D. writes:

On the other hand, older patients whose chest pain increases with palpation of the chest wall may not only have benign chest wall pain particularly if their history, physical exam or ancillary studies suggest a cardiac or pulmonary problem. The same holds true for patients who have a history of stomach ulcers or esophageal reflux and who gain some relief with anti-ulcer/reflux medications. The physician should be careful no to overlook symptoms, signs or other clues which may point to an underlying co-existing cardiac or pulmonary life-threatening illness.

Physicians should not rely too heavily on the electrocardiograms or cardiac enzymes in the ER. The medical literature is replete with studies demonstrating prior acute AMIs in patients with normal electrocardiograms. This phenomena occurs in from 5% to 20% of patients depending upon the study. Cardiac enzymes may be normal in the emergency room too but become elevated hours later because elevated levels are not detected until 4 to 8 hours after the heart muscle is damaged. Therefore, a normal or non-diagnostic ECG and normal cardiac enzymes can not rule out acute cardiac disease or negate the decision to admit a patient with a possible AMI.

November 15, 2010

Truck Manufacturing Industry Expert Witnesses

Truck manufacturing industry expert witnesses may opine on commercial motor vehicles, trucking regulatory matters and related issues. In Class Action Lawsuit Alleges Eaton-Truck Maker Conspiracy, TruckstopUSA writes:

A class action lawsuit accuses truck makers of conspiring with Eaton Corporation to help Eaton maintain a monopoly in the Class 8 truck transmission market, forcing up the price of trucks containing Eaton transmissions.

On Oct. 4, the New York-based plaintiff's law firm Murray, Frank & Sailer LLP filed a class action complaint in the U.S. Court for the District of Kansas on behalf of a nationwide class of Class 8 truck purchasers who indirectly bought Eaton transmissions by purchasing Class 8 trucks from October 2002 to the present.

The suit alleges that Eaton cut deals with truck makers to cut other transmission makers out of the market, especially ZF Meritor, which was forced out of the market. ZF Meritor is a joint venture of ArvinMeritor and ZF Friedrichshafen AG formed in 1999. Although ZF Meritor still exists as a legal entity, ArvinMeritor said it was forced to stop selling transmissions because of Eaton's actions.

Because of this, the suit claims, truck buyers paid more than they would have if there had been serious competition.

November 15, 2010

Expert Witness Marketing Coach Part 1

In Your Competitive Advantage, expert witness marketing consultant Rosalie Hamilton writes:

Who is your competition, and how do you compare? Considering that most cases requiring an expert witness involve at least two experts and our society shows no signs of becoming less litigious, competition should not be your primary concern in building an expert practice. You will learn valuable lessons, however, from analyzing the practices of two or three experts in your field. Study their professional qualifications, appearance, communication skills, and reputation among their peers, and note how they market themselves and the fees they charge.

Excerpted from The Expert Witness Marketing Book by Rosalie Hamilton

November 15, 2010

Engineering Expert Witness On Pressurized Vessel Dangers

Engineering expert witness Philip J. O'Keefe, PE, writes that pressurized vessels can pose a danger for various reasons.

Suppose for instance that the substance leaking from it is flammable or toxic. An example would be when propane gas leaking from a storage tank mixes with air surrounding the tank. This can create an explosive mixture, readily ignited by static electricity or a nearby ignition source, such as a spark from a worker’s tool. When a toxic substance is released by a leak into an occupied area, it can be inhaled or come into contact with skin eyes, nose, and mouth, where it can enter the body and injure or kill.

It might be obvious that toxic, flammable substances can prove threatening, but it is not quite as obvious that some nontoxic, nonflammable substances can be just as dangerous. For example, a substance can be heavier than air, and as it leaks out of the pressure vessel, it will roll along the floor, sinking into adjacent low spots such as basements and tunnels. This substance would then displace the air, creating a suffocation hazard for anyone who is unlucky enough to be there.

November 14, 2010

Call Centers Expert Witnesses

Call centers expert witnesses may opine on telemarketing, call center agents, computer telephony, and related topics. The National Association of Call Centers writes in their State of the Industry Report that in the 2nd quarter of 2010 more call center jobs were gained in the United States than were lost creating a five quarter long job recovery from the recession low of 4th quarter 2008.

The number of call centers opening versus closing was also positive indicating that the call center industry is on its way to an economic recovery and hopefully stability. The call center job losses were most pronounced in the Financial Services/Banking/Insurance vertical and with the largest growth coming from the Telecommunications sector. Some states, such as Arkansas, had a strong growth in call center jobs while states such as Ohio, Massachusetts, New Mexico and Oklahoma showed a loss of call center jobs.

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November 14, 2010

Dram Shop Expert Witness On Improving Public Safety Part 3

In Dram Shop Laws – Improving Public Safety, dram shop expert witness Maj. Mark Willingham of Alcohol Solutions, LLC, writes:

Laws exist in every state except Florida and Nevada that place criminal and/or administrative responsibility on the bar or the bartender/server to monitor the behavior of the drinker and their consumption of alcohol. Once a drinker reaches the point where he or she reaches various levels of intoxication, and therefore, loses the ability to make rational decisions, responsibility for insuring the drinker’s safety and those the drinker may harm, shifts to the retailer through criminal and/or administrative prohibitions. Under these administrative and/or criminal laws, the retailer becomes his brother’s keeper.

Thirty-eight states and the District of Columbia have determined that their public policy interests are better served by placing some responsibility for over-service or over-consumption on the alcohol server or the licensee through the civil justice system. These dram shop laws provide a plaintiff legal standing to bring an action against a tort feasor for an alcohol related injury or death. Most instances that bring rise to a civil dram shop lawsuit stem from a traffic crash. Other causes of action, however, relate to homicide, sexual assault, and other incidents where the intoxicated patron loses the ability of self-regulation.

November 13, 2010

Defining Risk Management Expert Witnesses

Risk management expert witnesses may write reports and opine on forecasting, credit risk, and market risk. Here, risk management is defined:

Risk assessment consists in an objective evaluation of risk in which assumptions and uncertainties are clearly considered and presented. Part of the difficulty of risk management is that measurement of both of the quantities in which risk assessment is concerned - potential loss and probability of occurrence - can be very difficult to measure. The chance of error in the measurement of these two concepts is large. A risk with a large potential loss and a low probability of occurring is often treated differently from one with a low potential loss and a high likelihood of occurring. In theory, both are of nearly equal priority in dealing with first, but in practice it can be very difficult to manage when faced with the scarcity of resources, especially time, in which to conduct the risk management process.

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November 13, 2010

Computer Expert Witnesses & Computer Crimes Part 2

In Testifying as an expert witness in computer crimes cases, Deb Shinder writes:

If you’re an expert in computers, networking, and related matters, you might be able to qualify as an expert witness in court cases (both criminal and civil) that involve the use of computers and networks. Here’s what you can expect if you go the expert witness route.

NOTE: Prosecutors and defense teams also sometimes employ “consulting experts,” who provide technical explanations and opinion in helping the prepare the case, but don’t actually testify in court.
Qualifying as an expert witness

Court systems cover different jurisdictions (city, county, state, federal) and each jurisdiction has its own set of rules. Most are based on the Federal Rules of Evidence, which say, “If scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue, a witness qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education, may testify thereto in the form of an opinion or otherwise, if (1) the testimony is based upon sufficient facts or data, (2) the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods, and (3) the witness has applied the principles and methods reliably to the facts of the case.”

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November 12, 2010

Aerosols Expert Witnesses & The Aerosol Industry

Aerosols expert witnesses may write reports and opine on aerosol sprays, airborne solid particles, and household chemicals. The National Aerosol Association describes the history of aerosols:

The first use for an aerosol package arose during World War II, but the idea of using low-pressure liquefied gas to atomize droplets of liquid in the air was developed in 1924. Canisters filled with insecticide and propellants were used to protect U.S. servicemen from insects carrying diseases such as malaria. Shortly after the war, Robert Abplanalp, founder of Precision Valve Corporation (PVC), invented the first mass-produced aerosol valve. The patent was filed in September 1949 and was issued on March 17, 1953. From that invention, the aerosol industry quickly developed in the United States and around the world.

November 12, 2010

Copyrights Expert Witnesses

Copyrights expert witnesses may opine on copyright infringement, copyright notice, and copyright limitations, among other topics. In The Basics Of Trademarks, Copyrights And Patents, writes:

A trademark refers to any forms of marks which are registered to the USPTO. These are names, devices, images, and word identifying any goods which can be produce, manufactured, or natural.

Copyright is a way of protecting both unpublished and published literary, artistic and scientific works, and any forms of expressions as long as it is tangible. It means you can touch it, hear it, or see it. An essay, a play, a song, funky original choreography, HTML coding, or graphics can be protected. Laws of copyright grant the creator’s exclusive rights to distribute, display, perform, reproduce, and prepare derivative works publicly.

A patent is another form of IP (intellectual property). The right of a patent in the United States is granted by the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office) to the inventors. This is to prevent others from using, making, selling, importing, or offering sales of such invention over a limited period of time. The law concerning the United States patent is stated in the Patent Act, 35 U.S.C. The act contains clarifications on using jargons resolving some confusion and complexity.

November 11, 2010

Accident Reconstruction Expert Witnesses & Teen Crashes Part 2

Accident reconstruction expert witnesses may write reports on collision analysis, collision speed, and more. In State Farm Data Shows That October Remains Most Dangerous Month Nationally for Teen Crashes, the Accident Reconstruction Network reports:

Teens Are Conflicted. State Farm survey shows 70% of new drivers are nervous about being in a crash or hurting someone, yet 57% say they text while driving.

A recent State Farm survey by Harris Interactive shows that despite concerns about getting into an accident, most teen drivers still lack awareness about the true ramifications of dangerous driving practices. In the survey, of 14- to 17 year olds who intend to have or already have a driver's license, 70 percent of teen drivers admitted to being nervous about being in a crash or hurting someone. But despite these concerns, 57 percent of teens admit to reading or sending text messages while driving.

When we asked teens why their peers text while driving even though they know it is dangerous, the general response is that staying connected is more important than ever to Generation Y.

November 10, 2010

Telemarketing Expert Witnesses & TCPA

Telemarketing expert witnesses may give opinions regarding call center agents, computer telephony, and related topics. Here, the Telemarketing Connections Newsletter writes on recent telemarketing cases & statutes.

An Illinois court has ruled that a Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) defendant’s offer to settle plaintiff’s claim mooted that claim such that it could not be removed to federal court. Damasco v. Clearwire Corp. The court, therefore, dismissed the case which had sought class action status for recipients of text messages from the defendant.

New York
New York has amended its telemarketing statute to add required disclosures regarding negative option features and to expand the definition of telemarketing sales call to specifically include prerecorded messages and messages delivered to answering machines (New York Assembly Bill 8839). The bill also adds a disclosure required prior to the purchase of any good or service regarding negative option plans and that the customer’s account will be charged unless the customer takes affirmative action to cancel the sale.

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November 10, 2010

Copyrights Expert Witnesses & RIAA Case

Copyrights expert witnesses may opine on copyright infringement, copyright notice, and copyright limitations. The Recording Industry vs. the People blog reports that MP3Tunes moved for summary judgment dismissing an RIAA case.

In Capitol Records v. MP3Tunes, the defendants have moved for summary judgment dismissing the case. The blog offers this link to the defendants' memorandum of law in support of motion for summary judgment.

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November 9, 2010

Insurance Expert Witness On Healthcare Insurance Part 4

In The Second Coming Of Healthcare Insurance, insurance expert witness Stephen George, MBA-HA, writes:

As the fastest increasing cost in healthcare, Pharmacy plans run the gamut of fully-insured to discount-only plans. Typical plans provide coverage within 3 and 4-tier copayment plans. Almost all insured plans exclude medications, so getting the detail is very important. These plans can be substituted into traditional Major Medical Insurance, Scheduled Medical and even Medicare supplemental plans to reduce premium and out of pocket costs. Mail order medications have met a new plane of efficiency and save dramatically on deductible and out of pocket copayment costs. In some cases, Discount cards offer greater out of pocket savings than insured pharmacy plans.

This reprint by permission of The Self-Insurer and The Self-Insurer’s Publishing Corp. as it appeared in the July, 2007 Edition.

November 8, 2010

Engineered Composites Expert Witnesses

Engineered composites expert witnesses may opine on vinyl chloride polymers, electroactive polymers, and functional polymers, among other topics. Here, The American Composites Manufacturing Association defines composites.

Not all plastics are composites. In fact, the majority of plastics today are pure plastic, like toys and soda bottles. When additional strength is needed, many types of plastics can be reinforced (usually with reinforcing fibers). This combination of plastic and reinforcement can produce some of the strongest materials for their weight that technology has ever developed...and the most versatile.

Therefore, composites, also referred to as fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) composites is a combination of a:
* Polymer matrix resin, sometimes referred to as plastic, (either thermoplastic or thermoset resin, such as polyester, isopolyester, vinyl ester, epoxy, phenolic) and a
* Fiber reinforcement such as glass, carbon, aramid or other reinforcing material such that there is a sufficient aspect ratio (length to thickness) to provide a discernable reinforcing function in one or more directions.d more.

November 7, 2010

Trucking Expert Witnesses & Fuel Consumption Regs Part 2

Trucking expert witnesses may opine on emission requirements, federal motor carrier safety regulations, and related subjects. reports that the federal government proposed the first regulations limiting fuel consumption of work trucks — from big-rig trucks to concrete mixers, buses, even heavy-duty pickups — saying the rules finally address the thirstiest and most-polluting vehicles on the road.

Though the emphasis is on semi-tractor rigs and other big trucks, the regulations would apply to vehicles as small as those with an 8,500-pound gross vehicle weight rating (the safe weight of the truck and cargo combined) — a Ford F-250 pickup or equivalent.

The heavy-truck rules would join fuel-economy rules for passenger vehicles that require automakers to average 35.5 miles per gallon in 2016. A recent proposal would push that to as much as 62 mpg in 2025.

The government forecast the truck rules would cost the industry $7.7 billion, but save $35 billion in fuel.The regulations don't address the trailers that semis pull — requiring them to be more aerodynamic, for example — though they dramatically effect fuel use. Critics say the standards might not be high enough and should "do more to draw advanced technologies into the market" by giving added credit for hybrid drivetrains or advanced transmissions, says Therese Langer, head of transportation issues at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, an advocacy group.

The rules are a joint product of the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. EPA specifies fuel-use limits in grams of carbon dioxide emitted per ton-mile. NHTSA specifies gallons of fuel used per 1,000 ton-miles. They say their approaches complement each other.

November 7, 2010

Tile Expert Witness On Tile Job Problems Part 2

In Ceramic Tile & Stone Industry News tile expert witness Donato V. Pompo of Ceramic Tile And Stone Consultants writes on tile job problems:

Common failures are due to substrate cracking and excessive deflection, moisture problems (that can lead to mold), bond failure, and lack of flatness or slope. Thankfully, remedies exist for correcting substrate problems, but it is important to first evaluate the substrate and take any corrective action as part of the floor preparation process.

Is the substrate made of a suitable material allowing for the application of Tile & Stone? Concrete substrates are always best because they are the most stable and are not significantly affected by exposure to moisture. There are limitations to adhering to lightweight concrete, as it tends to have an unstable surface, but remedies for even this situation exist. You can bond to wood, wall board, and steel, but with limitations.

Is the substrate structurally stable? Deflection in the substrate must not exceed L/360 for ceramic tile or L/720 for stone. Excessive deflection is a big problem for installations over wood sub-floors and suspended concrete slabs. Structurally, these substrates need to be designed by a qualified engineer to ensure compliance with industry standards for tile and stone.

November 6, 2010

Accident Reconstruction Expert Witnesses & Teen Crashes

Accident reconstruction expert witnesses may write reports on collision analysis, collision speed, and more. In State Farm Data Shows That October Remains Most Dangerous Month Nationally for Teen Crashes, the Accident Reconstruction Network reports:

Newly analyzed State Farm® claims data shows the trend continues - October remains the most dangerous month of the year for teen driver crashes nationally. In California, the numbers aren't much different; February tops the list as the most accident prone month for teens, followed closely by October.

According to claims data spanning the last seven years, the highest number of injury or collision claims filed by 16- and 17-year old drivers continues to hit a high point in October, spiking by about 15 percent when compared to other months of the year. State Farm evaluated its extensive claims database from 2003 – 2009, and in every year, October continues to register the most claims across the United States and portions of Canada. About 70 percent of states show October as being among its top three months for teen accident claims.

"Car crashes remain the number one killer of teens and October continues to be our single biggest battleground month," said Laurette Stiles, Vice President of Strategic Resources at State Farm. "While promoting teen driver safety requires a year-round commitment, the fall time frame is critically important. As teens return to school, attend homecoming, and begin managing very busy schedules, we want them to keep safe driving practices at the top of their minds because our data shows this is one of the most dangerous times of the year for teens to be on the road."

November 5, 2010

Copyrights Expert Witnesses

Copyrights expert witnesses may opine on copyright infringement, copyright notice, and copyright limitations. The Recording Industry vs. the People blog reports:

In the Minnesota case Capitol Records v. Thomas-Rasset, law school professor Charles Nesson, who represents Joel Tenenbaum, in a Massachusetts case, has been admitted pro hac vice to assist in representing defendant. The defendant's lawyers are former students of his. The trial commenced November 2nd.
In addition,

-Prof. Nesson filed an amicus brief;
-the brief was rejected by the court due to no motion for leave to file having been made; and
-Prof. Nesson thereafter made a motion for leave to file.

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November 4, 2010

Medical Malpractice Expert Witness On Chest Pain Part 2

In Chest Pain & Medical Malpractice, medical malpractice expert witness Barry Gustin, M.D. writes:

Any patient who has unstable vital signs or who requires resuscitation should be promptly admitted to the critical care unit and the appropriate consultants should be accessed in a timely manner. Patients with "classic" presentations of life-threatening diseases such as acute myocardial infarction or dissecting thoracic aneurysms also require admission and immediate stabilization. Well-trained emergency physicians should not have any difficulty recognizing acute situations.

But how should the physician approach the patient with an atypical or confusing clinical picture and what should the criteria be for admission versus discharge? In general, patients who have clinical presentations clearly indicative of benign or non-life threatening diseases may be sent home. This would include, for example, a young patient with a mild, sharp chest pain which increases with deep breathing and movement who has no risk factors for pulmonary embolism or cardiac disease and has a normal electrocardiogram, chest x-ray and blood gas. This patient can be sent home even though a clear diagnosis may not be indentified in the ER. Of course, the patient must be instructed to follow up with his private MD sooner if worse, within 24-48 hours.

November 3, 2010

Polymers Expert Witnesses & BPA

Polymers expert witnesses may opine on conductive polymers, monomers, and related topics. In Canada's Announcement Regarding BPA is Contrary to the Weight of Worldwide Scientific Evidence, the American Chemistry Council's October 13, 2010 news release states:

In response to the Canadian Minister of the Environment today announcing the decision to list bisphenol A (BPA) as a toxic substance under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, Steven G. Hentges, Ph.D., Polycarbonate/BPA Global Group of the American Chemistry Council (ACC) made the following comments:

“Just days after the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) once again confirmed that BPA is safe for use in food-contact items, Environment Canada’s announcement is contrary to the weight

of worldwide scientific evidence, unwarranted and will unnecessarily confuse and alarm the public.

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November 2, 2010

Trucking Expert Witnesses & Fuel Consumption Regs Part 1

Trucking expert witnesses may opine on emission requirements, federal motor carrier safety regulations, and related subjects. reports that the federal government proposed the first regulations limiting fuel consumption of work trucks — from big-rig trucks to concrete mixers, buses, even heavy-duty pickups — saying the rules finally address the thirstiest and most-polluting vehicles on the road.

The proposal, which would take effect with 2014 models and ratchet up through 2018 models, requires a public comment period and other procedures, and wouldn't be final until next year. The rules would raise the cost of trucks and the diesel engines most of them use, but the government says the payback in fuel-cost savings would be as fast as one year for heavily used over-the-road trucks.

Even so, "We are concerned that this could price some buyers out of the market," says Kyle Treadway, chairman of the American Truck Dealers and owner of a Kenworth dealership in Salt Lake City. Lower fuel consumption is good, he agrees, but the federal proposal "is expected to add thousands of dollars to the cost per truck."

Read more:

November 2, 2010

Tile Expert Witness On Tile Job Problems

In Ceramic Tile & Stone Industry News tile expert witness Donato V. Pompo of Ceramic Tile And Stone Consultants writes on tile job problems:

#1 The substrate is the foundation of a ceramic tile or stone installation. When this foundation is unsuitable for whatever reason, then the products applied on top are automatically in jeopardy. Thankfully, remedies exist for correcting substrate problems, but it is important to first evaluate the substrate and take any corrective action as part of the floor preparation process.

#2 Compounded by the shortage of qualified installers, most ceramic tile and stone (Tile & Stone) floor failures are related to the lack of proper floor preparation. These floors are only as good as the substrate to which they are applied and the method of installation used. Substrate preparation, in turn, will determine whether a particular substrate is adequate for the intended use.

November 1, 2010

Accident Reconstruction Expert Witnesses & Workplace Safety

Accident reconstruction expert witness may opine on workplace safety, injury reconstruction, and related topics. In How To Fulfill Your Construction Safety Regulations, Construction Safety Blog writes:

Construction Safety Regulations are paramount in maintaining an accident-free construction site. If you fail to keep abreast of regulations, you not only run the risk of accidents occurring on and around your building works, but you face severe penalties whether you have an accident or not. We all work in a dangerous industry, and we have a unique awareness of the health and safety regulations dictated by the governments of the world. The trouble is that even a full knowledge of your skill and the problems encountered by building site workers may not be enough to save you when something goes wrong. Construction Safety Regulations are there to help you and those working with you, so it’s wise to follow them at all times.