January 17, 2015

Handwriting Expert Witness On Forensic Document Examination

In When is a Handwriting Expert Not a Handwriting Expert? handwriting expert witness Dennis Ryan of Applied Forensics, LLC, writes:

A handwriting expert is not a handwriting expert when they are called on to examine aspects of a document that do not require a handwriting examination. Most handwriting experts are actually Forensic Document Examiners (FDE’s). The expertise of a Forensic Document Examiner goes well beyond the examination and comparison of signatures, hand-printed or handwritten items. The Forensic Document Examiner (Handwriting Expert) can examine documents to determine if they are forged. For example, our FDEs have examined documents associated with a vintage automobile sale. The documents that were produced in the sale of the automobile were the window sticker, the bill of sale and other related documents. The price of the automobile was increased by a hundred thousand dollars ($100,000) when these documents were used in the sale of the automobile. Our examiners determined that the documents were fraudulent because they were produced using a color laser printer/copier. The documents appeared artificially aged.

The Forensic Document Examiner (handwriting expert) can also examine documents to determine the method of production of the document. Was the document produced by a typewriter, dot matrix, ink jet or laser printer? Does the document have a signature on it which appears original but is in fact a color laser copy of the signature and not the original inked signature? Does the ink jet printer have a defect that can identify the specific printer used to create the document?

A Forensic Document Examiner may also examine alterations, additions and deletions. Our office has examined documents ranging from medical treatment records to standardized school testing records for evidence of alterations, additions or deletions. The alterations are not always evident without a close examination using infrared imaging technology. Our examiners have examined hundreds of state standardized tests and have found, on occasion, the answers have been changed from an incorrect answer to a correct one.

The Forensic Document Examiner (handwriting expert) also does indentation analysis. An examiner could, for example, determine why handwritten initials from page one of a multi-page document do not appear on page two of the document, but the initials appear on the remaining pages of the multi page document. The answer could be that an alternative version of page two has been substituted. In another case, our office compared indentations from a 2008 document and those of a document dated 2014 which provided a clue in dating the document in question.

The Forensic Document Examiners (handwriting experts) in our offices have been asked to examine photocopied documents to determine if the copies are mechanical fabrications. Another term for a mechanical fabrication is a “cut and paste”. With the accessibility of desktop publishing so prevalent in today’s society, a “cut and paste” can be done with relative ease with only a computer and a scanner. A “cut and paste” can be very rudimentary or very sophisticated, it all depends on the time and effort one wants to put into creating the document.

As one can see the handwriting expert does not always fulfill the role of handwriting expert. The Forensic Document Examiner commonly referred to as a handwriting expert, conducts a myriad of examinations on documents called into question.



Applied Forensics
is a state of art laboratory of certified Forensic Document Examiners with offices in New York, Maryland, Boston, Connecticut, and North Carolina. Document examinations are provided in the following areas: handwriting, typewriter, photocopies, alterations, obliterations, erasures, and paper exams.

January 7, 2015

School Security Expert Witness On School Shootings Part 2

In Ten Lessons Learned From the Sandy Hook School Shootings, school security expert witness Ken Trump, MPA, President of National School Safety and Security Services writes:

Our team’s analysis of the Sandy Hook Final Report released by the Connecticut State’s Attorney continues with 10 key lessons learned for school security and emergency preparedness. While additional details may be revealed in forthcoming documents from the Connecticut State Police, 10 important lessons from Sandy Hook have emerged based upon the final report, information shared with us by individuals involved with the incident, and other published reports:

6. Assess physical security at each school due to unique designs and issues. The classrooms where children and staff died at Sandy Hook had connecting doors in the walls. Restrooms inside the classrooms helped as places for young children to lockdown. Each school district is unique and schools within each district are unique, requiring building-specific assessments and actions as appropriate to identify strengths and areas of concern.

7. Strengthen communications capabilities and create redundancy. The ability to activate the PA from multiple locations was helpful in alerting others of the shootings at Sandy Hook. As noted in Chuck Hibbert’s blog article this week, Connecticut State Police radios did not work inside the school. Have redundancy in communications in the event “Plan A” fails.

8. Recognize and address the elephants in the living room: Mental health, home dysfunction, weapons, violent videos, etc. These are largely home and community issues that must be recognized, acknowledged and addressed by parents and the community.

9. Think and act cognitively, not emotionally; and measured, not knee-jerk — and related to this lesson:

10. Stay focused on proven, tested and reliable best practices. Experienced school safety professionals, psychologists and many educators have expressed concerns since December of 2012 about far too many emotionally-driven ideas and actions based upon what people believed occurred at Sandy Hook. Bulletproof backpacks, bulletproof whiteboards, vendors and consultants pushing expensive classroom surveillance cameras activated by individual teacher panic alerts, software developers providing lockdown or shooter notification apps (that could result in not only first responders rushing to the school, but also undesired onlookers like the NY man who went to Sandy Hook to see what was going and got detained by police), and others have jumped into the fray with questionable proposals.

Many schools rushed to fortify their front entrance doors, failing to recognize that the Sandy Hook shooter shot out the glass next to the doorway, not in the actual doorway. Some mistakenly have downplayed and/or dismissed lockdowns as effective tools. Others have encouraged students and staff to evacuate and run anywhere and everywhere possible, which in the case of Sandy Hook appears to have adversely impacted police from getting inside the school once they arrived.

Teaching children and teachers to throw things at, and to attack, armed gunmen is another flawed theory put forth with greater emphasis after Sandy Hook. Yet the Sandy Hook principal and psychologist were instantly killed while moving toward the heavily armed gunman. The staff member who was near them and got shot went back into the conference room, locked down and lived. Students who locked down, even inside the inner classroom restrooms, survived. Classes on both sides where the shootings occurred quietly locked down and survived.

More lessons may follow, and some amendments to the above may be needed, with the release of additional documents. But for now, based upon what is known, the above lessons remind us to focus on proven, reliable best practices.


KENNETH S. TRUMP
, M.P.A., is President of National School Safety and Security Services, a Cleveland-based national consulting firm specializing in K-12 school security and emergency preparedness training, school security assessments, school emergency planning consultations, school security officers and school police issues, and related school safety, violence, crime and crisis consulting services.

January 2, 2015

Explosions Expert Witnesses

Explosions expert witnesses may consult regarding explosives, flammable materials, combustion, and related matters. In the news, fireworks manufacturer Entertainment Fireworks has been fined following a fatal explosion in June 2014. The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries investigated the accident and concluded that safety violations and improper training contributed to the explosion which killed one worker and injured two more.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives website contains detailed safety precautions in the use and storage of explosives.

Explosives Safety and Security
Federal explosives law and regulations provide requirements and standards for the secure storage of explosives materials. To maximize the effects of regulatory compliance, the following voluntary suggestions, developed in partnership with the International Makers of Explosives (IME) and the International Society of Explosives Engineers, may serve as a helpful guide for securing explosive materials.

Storage Requirements
The Federal explosives regulations at 27 CFR, Part 555, Subpart K, outline the storage requirements for explosive materials. Section 555.205 specifies that licensees and permittees must keep all explosive materials in locked magazines meeting the standards in Subpart K unless they are:
In the process of manufacture;
Being physically handled in the operating process of a licensee or user;
Being used; or
Being transported to a place of storage or use by a licensee or permittee or by a person who has lawfully acquired explosive materials under Sec. 555.106.

When none of the above conditions apply, this section mandates that you keep explosive materials in magazines that meet the construction and table of distance requirements of Subpart K. Any divergence from these requirements requires prior approval by the Director, ATF, in accordance with the provisions of 27 CFR, Part 555.22. Persons with questions on this issue should contact the Explosives Industry Programs Branch in ATF Headquarters at 202-648-7120 or through e-mail (EIPB@atf.gov).

December 30, 2014

Emergency Preparedness Expert Witness On First Aid Teams Part 2

In First Aid Teams, emergency preparedness expert witness Michael J. Ryan, principal at First Aid Depot, asks the question, “Does your organization need a First Aid Team?”

Training is only part of the First Aid Team question. Now that your associates have received the training they need the right tools. The right tools include all the equipment discussed in the First Aid and CPR/AED programs. These could include face-masks with one-way valves to eliminate direct mouth-to-mouth contact, triangular bandages for bandaging and splinting, and portable first aid kit(s) to be carried to the emergency stocked with the unique supplies for your work place emergencies.

Once your First Aid Teams are trained, in place, and equipped with the proper tools, they need to be managed. This can be accomplished in several ways. A self governing Safety Committee can oversee the First Aid Teams activities as well as scheduling coverage, checking supplies, and future retraining needs. The human resources department may take an active role in the First Aid Team; after all, it involves the employers’ associates caring for other associates. Human resources may be better able to deal with wellness issues. Depending on the size of your facility, the facilities manager may be best suited to manage the First Aid Team(s).

First Aid Teams in general are a great way to boost moral and at the same time ensures that the organization is providing appropriate emergency first aid. Being prepared for work place emergencies helps keep the company OSHA compliant. The investment in training and tools is a fraction of the payoff if an emergency occurs. As an example, training 10 associates in First Aid with Adult CPR/AED and then outfitting each member with a pocket facemask and 1 first aid kit is less than $800.00 dollars. AED (Automated External Defibrillators) have also dropped in price, approximately $2,000.00 each.

First Aid Teams are an all around wise investment in your associates and a commitment to their wellness.

Mr. Ryan's areas of expertise include citizen responders who provide First Aid, CPR and Automated External Defribrillation (AED) treatment; employer responsibility in the work place as it relates to emergency care/preparedness and EMS issues with respect to pre-hospital emergency medicine.

December 23, 2014

Child Abuse Expert Witness On The Role Of Whistleblowers

Child abuse expert witness Jill G. Jones-Soderman, Ph.D., MSHS, has been in the private practice of psychotherapy and psychoanalysis for over 35 years. Her work involves the study of the violation of civil rights and confidentiality in various provinces of the court system with particular emphasis on family courts throughout the country. On her website, she explains how whistleblowers serve a purpose in the judicial system.

For over a century, whistleblowing has been a vital element in the checks and balances of American political and economic life, exposing corruption and illegality in the system, too frequently overlooked or suppressed by official authorities. Idealistic insiders who come across evidence of foul practices in business, politics, the military, in non-profits and religious organizations, and in the judicial system must have platforms where they can air their grievances and expose corruption to the public. Whistleblowers are often shunned by their colleagues, are retaliated against by their institutions, and even have their lives threatened.

Famous American whistleblowers include Karen Silkwood, Jeff Wigand, Ida Tarbell, Frank Serpico and Daniel Ellsberg, who each made significant contributions to American society through their dramatic whistleblowing actions. Currently www.uswhistleblower.org has articles posted about malfeasance in various family courts and child protection agencies, articles about the NFL cover-up about head injuries to players, and even about animal rights issues.

The US Whistleblower website pledges to publish new information and to strictly maintain the privacy and anonymity of those whose information is published. The Foundation for the Child Victims of the Family Courts is a 501- C3 not-for-profit organization registered in New York. It is composed of an association of attorneys, clinical forensic legal advocates, family mediators, counselors, doctors and other professionals who are dedicated to directly assisting parties who have been harmed by the Family Court system, social service agencies and Child Protective Services across the country. The Foundation aggressively works with families, taking cases through the Family Court system, filing Civil and Federal Civil Rights cases, and fighting for justice and damages.


December 16, 2014

School Security Expert Witness On School Shootings Part 1

In Ten Lessons Learned From the Sandy Hook School Shootings, school security expert witness Ken Trump, MPA, President of National School Safety and Security Services writes:

Our team’s analysis of the Sandy Hook Final Report released by the Connecticut State’s Attorney continues with 10 key lessons learned for school security and emergency preparedness. While additional details may be revealed in forthcoming documents from the Connecticut State Police, 10 important lessons from Sandy Hook have emerged based upon the final report, information shared with us by individuals involved with the incident, and other published reports:

1. Invest in the people side of school safety. The principal and school psychologist lost their lives moving toward the shooter. Teachers and teacher aides in two classrooms died with their children. The office staff minimized their visibility and as shots were being fired in the hall still managed to call 911. The school custodian ran through the building alerting teachers to lock down as he helped lock classrooms. People are the first line of defense for student safety. We need to invest more in training and preparing our students and staff for safety, security and preparedness versus skewing our focus on security equipment.

2. Lockdowns work and are still one of the most effective tools available to get students and staff out of harms way. While 26 students and staff sadly lost their lives at Sandy Hook, many lives were saved due to students and staff locking down. The final report indicates that classrooms on both sides of the rooms where the killings occurred locked down and remained quiet with no one harmed. The shooter bypassed the first classroom that was locked down and had a piece of paper covering the window that remained from a lockdown drill the week prior to the shootings.

The principal told everyone to stay put, not to run or attack the gunmen, and one shot staff member made it back into the conference room, locked down, called 911, and activated the PA. Office staff and the school nurse locked down. We have been told that a secretary and nurse locked down so successfully that they went undetected during multiple police sweeps of the building and were detected only after police set up a command center in the office nearby where they were locked down.

The final report indicates the two rooms where the children and educators were killed had unlocked doors, showed no signs of forced entry, and keys were found on the floor nearby one killed teacher. This suggests not that these rooms were locked down and breached, but that they may not have had time to lockdown.

3. Diversify drills and make them reasonable but progressively challenging. Conduct lockdown drills between class changes, during lunch periods, upon student arrival, at dismissal, during staff-only in-service days. Remove the building’s leadership team and office staff to see how drills unfold without them, as was the case at Sandy Hook once the principal and psychologist were killed and the office staff’s ability to act was marginalized by an immediate threat.

4. Engage support staff. While schools are much better at doing so today, many still do not fully engage support staff such as food services, custodial and maintenance, office support staff, bus drivers, and others in training sessions, drills and crisis teams. At Sandy Hook, the custodian heroically ran through the building alerting staff and helping them by locking doors. The office staff members were the first to see the shooter.

5. Train and empower all staff. Prior lockdown drills were reportedly held at Sandy Hook which surely helped many staff quickly do so during the shooting. Evacuation planning, parent-student reunification and other best practices for training and planning are critical to school preparedness. Reasonable student training is also important.



KENNETH S. TRUMP
, M.P.A., is President of National School Safety and Security Services, a Cleveland-based national consulting firm specializing in K-12 school security and emergency preparedness training, school security assessments, school emergency planning consultations, school security officers and school police issues, and related school safety, violence, crime and crisis consulting services.

December 8, 2014

Emergency Preparedness Expert Witness On First Aid Teams Part 1

In First Aid Teams, emergency preparedness expert witness Michael J. Ryan, principal at First Aid Depot, asks the question, “Does your organization need a First Aid Team?”

When you look at the issue of a First Aid Team some thoughts come to mind. One thought is the first aid kit hanging on the wall somewhere, usually only opened for an occasional cold tablet, aspirin or band-aid or maybe you can recall a time when the local fire department or ambulance corps responded to your 911 call. Aren’t these things good enough for most work place emergencies?

Several issues should be considered when you establish a First Aid Team. Is the first aid kit properly stocked for your unique work place emergencies? What would happen if the responding 911 responders were delayed; is it appropriate to transport the patient by private vehicle, etc.? Even in ideal conditions the period of time in which you wait for police and/or an ambulance may be life threatening if the victim doesn’t receive oxygen or other life sustaining interventions such as CPR/AED. The issue of first aid training gained more exposure on December 6, 1991 when OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) mandated certain types of training to comply with Blood Bourne Pathogen issues in the work place. Additionally, OSHA requires that associates working in certain environments have the ability to be resuscitated in the event of life threatening work place emergencies.

To properly answer the question “does my organization need a first aid team” a review of your organization is necessary. First, assess the actual number of associates in the building and how many are on each shift. If your organization operates in multi-locations or multi-buildings that must also be considered; ideally, all facilities should be trained. Second, human resources should be consulted; they may be able to provide information on the potential sudden illnesses that may be encountered based either on past history or the associates’ medical history, assuming it was shared by the employee. Third, closely review the work place process. If your organization is a manufacturing facility, what types of injuries have occurred in the past and what may occur? Maybe your organization is a packager or distributor; are there dangerous moving equipment hazards? And lastly, most service industries are probably free of hazards, but not the potential for sudden illnesses.

If you determine that your organization can benefit by having several associates trained in emergency first aid procedures to provide prompt treatment the employer must decide what kind of training is necessary. You’ll want to ensure that there is at least one first aider to every 10 associates. This ratio allows for vacation schedules, sick time, etc. while still maintaining proper coverage. Usually, the first aid team is comprised of people interested in assisting in an emergency. These first aiders need to recognize that they will be expected to assist another associate in the event of a work place emergency and the consequences if they do not assist. Certain work place environments will dictate what type of training is necessary. For example, where there may be bleeding, fractures, or sudden illness a First Aid course is needed. If your environment includes the possibility for heart attacks, choking, or breathing problems a CPR/AED course is needed. Any full-service training agency should have a compliment of programs to fit most needs. Typically your organization will dictate the type of training required and the training agency will develop an appropriate training program to comply.

Mr. Ryan's areas of expertise include citizen responders who provide First Aid, CPR and Automated External Defribrillation (AED) treatment; employer responsibility in the work place as it relates to emergency care/preparedness and EMS issues with respect to pre-hospital emergency medicine.

November 25, 2014

Child Abuse Expert Witnesses & Midwife Neglect Case

Child abuse expert witnesses may advise regarding child abuse and neglect and the physical and emotional mistreatment of children. In the news, South Dakota midwife Judy K. Jones is charged with the death of a Nebraska infant she delivered. Court records state the baby developed medical problems and Jones allegedly failed to provide proper medical treatment. The baby was in grave condition when admitted to the hospital and died after being transported to a hospital in Omaha. Charges include manslaughter, practicing without a license, criminal impersonation, child abuse negligently resulting in death and child abuse intentionally resulting in death. Jones is living in South Dakota and awaiting a 2015 trial in Custer County District Court.

The Federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), (42 U.S.C.A. §5106g), as amended and reauthorized by the CAPTA Reauthorization Act of 2010, defines child abuse and neglect as, at minimum:

Any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation; or an act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm.” Most Federal and State child protection laws primarily refer to cases of harm to a child caused by parents or other caregivers..

BirthInjuryJustice.org defines midwife negligence:
… Negligent credentials: some midwives do not meet minimum state standards or licensing requirements.

Failure to assess the baby’s condition: midwives may ignore warning signs in an effort to provide a natural birth, at significant risk to the baby or delivering mother.

Failure to have in place and/or follow adequate policies and/or procedures regarding emergency delivery of babies.

November 17, 2014

Medical Malpractice Expert Witness On Legal Medical Causation Part 2

In CHIROPRACTIC / MEDICAL MALPRACTICE CAUSATION AND THE DEGENERATIVE SPINE, medical malpractice expert witness Richard K. Skala, DC, writes that the "chiropractic expert will be challenged by the opposing party during deposition and/or trial in terms of the foundation used to come to their conclusions within a reasonable medical probability." (See here for Part 1.)

EXPERTS WEIGH IN The defense chiropractic expert testified, on review of the medical record, noting the lack of full history disclosure on the part of the farmer in regards to prior medical treatment and imaging. Discussing also the DC examination findings and the absence of any red flags during the history and exam, the DC expert concluded that the standard of care had not been violated. The DC expert, relying on training in x-ray interpretation, testified that the initial MD was correct that the degenerative changes were age and occupation consistent. The DC expert also testified that the degeneration indicated a long standing and developing disc condition at L5/S1. Finally, the DC expert noted various treatment guidelines that indicate imaging is not mandatory in the absence of red flags.

The defense expert neurosurgeon testified that it was “unlikely” that the DC treatment significantly caused or worsened the farmer’s disc herniation. The neurosurgeon also testified that muscle weakness following Laminectomy, foraminotomy L5/S1 discectomy was not uncommon and cited multiple studies that listed leg muscle weakness as a risk of the surgery.
It was also revealed during trial by his own testimony that despite the work and activity modifications prescribed to the farmer by the DC that he had ignored these restrictions and continued to work and lift weights without limitations.

VERDICT
The jury unanimously found a verdict in favor of the DC, noting that he was not negligent in his care to the farmer.

COMMENT
The experts in this case for both plaintiff and defense could just as easily have been working on behalf of the opposite parties. Which party prevailed is not what is important. What is important is the variation in apparent understanding and application of simply relying on a conclusion of “reasonable medical probability” versus being able to support conclusions with a foundation, and thus convincing the jury.

SUGGESTIONS
This case demonstrates that proving chiropractic causation of injury is a multifaceted process. Experts on both sides made conclusions to reasonable medical certainty. The difference in who was able to better support the foundations in arriving at their conclusions was clear to the jury.
My observations have led me to suggest the following to counsel in chiropractic malpractice cases:
1. Have your expert review all of the medical records and give concise comments on findings, observations and questions.
2. Explore the foundations of all expert conclusions / opinions and look for each element of their foundations.
3. Come to a good understanding of the opposite side’s theories of causation on a medical, factual and, when possible, statistical basis.

A Doctor of Chiropractic since 1976, Dr. Skala provides consultation and expert witness services for attorneys regarding Personal Injury; Industrial Medical-Legal Cases; Standard of Care involving General Chiropractic, Manipulation Under Anesthesia (MUA), Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression, and Extracorporeal Shockwave (EWST); Chiropractic Licensure Compliance California, and Workers Compensation. Declared an expert witness by the California Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board, he is a California Qualified Medical Evaluator (QME), a Certified Industrial Disability Evaluator, and a certified AMA Impairment rater.

November 15, 2014

Automotive Expert Witnesses & Hyundai, Kia Settlement

Automotive expert witnesses may opine on automotive design, automotive technology, fuel economy and related aspects of the automotive industry. In the news, automakers Hyundai and Kia have agreed to pay a $100 million civil penalty to resolve alleged Clean Air Act violations. An EPA investigation found that the companies touted lower gas mileage and greenhouse gas emissions on 1.2M vehicles than test results showed. In a large number of tests, both Hyundai and Kia chose favorable data rather than average results. In certain cases, Hyundai and Kia relied predominantly on data gathered when test vehicles were aided by a tailwind.

In a 11/03/2014 press release, the EPA states: United States Reaches Settlement with Hyundai and Kia in Historic Greenhouse Gas Enforcement Case

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Justice today announced an historic settlement with the automakers Hyundai and Kia that will resolve alleged Clean Air Act violations based on their sale of close to 1.2 million vehicles that collectively will emit approximately 4.75 million metric tons of greenhouse gases (GHG) in excess of what the automakers certified to the EPA. The companies will forfeit GHG emission credits in order to put the companies in the place they would have been had they accurately reported the GHG emissions from these vehicles in the first place. The companies also will take measures to prevent future violations. On November 3, 2014, the EPA and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced this settlement, and lodged a consent decree embodying the settlement in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. The California Air Resources Board joined the United States as a co-plaintiff in this settlement.

Additionally Hyundai and Kia gave consumers inaccurate information about the real-world fuel economy performance of many of these vehicles. Hyundai and Kia overstated the fuel economy by one to six miles per gallon, depending on the vehicle. Similarly, they understated the emissions of greenhouse gases by their fleets by approximately 4.75 million metric tons over the estimated lifetime of the vehicles.

The EPA subsequently investigated the coastdown test protocol Hyundai and Kia used to measure the road load force of their vehicles. That protocol appears to have included numerous elements that, once aggregated, generated inaccurately low road load forces. For example, Hyundai and Kia restricted their testing to a temperature range where its vehicles coasted farther and faster and prepared vehicle tires for optimized results. In processing test data, Hyundai and Kia chose favorable results rather than average results from a large number of tests. In certain cases, Hyundai and Kia relied predominantly on data gathered when test vehicles were aided by a tailwind.

November 5, 2014

Child Abuse Expert Witnesses

In What is Child Abuse? Childhelp.org states: “Child abuse consists of any act of commission or omission that endangers or impairs a child’s physical or emotional health and development. Child abuse includes any damage done to a child which cannot be reasonably explained and which is often represented by an injury or series of injuries appearing to be non-accidental in nature.” Child abuse expert witnesses are effective advocates for children and may advise regarding child abuse and neglect, child maltreatment, and child sexual abuse. At Forensic Pediatrics Consultants.com, board certified doctors and experts in child abuse, pediatrics, and forensic interviews describe Forms of Child Abuse:

Physical abuse
Any non-accidental injury to a child. This includes hitting, kicking, slapping, shaking, burning, pinching, hair pulling, biting, choking, throwing, shoving, whipping, and paddling.

Sexual abuse
Any sexual act between an adult and child. This includes fondling, penetration, intercourse, exploitation, pornography, exhibitionism, child prostitution, group sex, oral sex, or forced observation of sexual acts.

Neglect
Failure to provide for a child’s physical needs. This includes lack of supervision, inappropriate housing or shelter, inadequate provision of food and water, inappropriate clothing for season or weather, abandonment, denial of medical care and inadequate hygiene.

Emotional abuse
Any attitude or behavior which interferes with a child’s mental health or social development. This includes yelling, screaming, name-calling, shaming, negative comparisons to others, telling them they are “bad, no good, worthless” or “a mistake.” It also includes the failure to provide the affection and support necessary for the development of a child’s emotional, social, physical and intellectual well-being. This includes ignoring, lack of appropriate physical affection (hugs), not saying “I love you,” withdrawal of attention, lack of praise and lack of positive reinforcement.

Expert witnesses at Forensic Pediatrics Consultants describe the content of a child sexual abuse forensic interview:

A forensic interview should not take the form of an interrogation. Note the child’s affect while discussing these topics and be tactful in helping the child manage anxiety. Young children may not be able to report all of the relevant information and disclosures commonly emerge over time. The examiner should explore the following:

whether the child was told to report or not report anything;
what relationship the child has to alleged perpetrator was;
what the alleged perpetrator did;
where it happened;
for multiple occurrences that are reported, when the abuse it started and when it ended;
number of times the abuse occurred;
if and how the child was initially engaged and how the abuse progressed over time;
if and how the alleged perpetrator induced the child to maintain secrecy;
whether the child is aware of specific injuries or physical symptoms associated with the abuse;
whether any photography or videotaping took place.

The Stepwise Interview Components and Protocol
Build Rapport
Ask the Child to Describe Two Specific Past Events
Establish the Need to Tell the Truth
Reach an agreement with the child that in this interview only the truth (not “pretend” or imagination) will be discussed.
Explain to the child that it is fine not to know the answer to a question. It is fine to correct the interviewer.
Start with general questions such as “Do you know why you are talking with me today?” Proceed, if necessary, to more specific questions such as “Has anything happened to you?” Drawings may help initiate disclosure.
Elicit a Free Narrative
Pose General Questions
Pose Specific Questions if Necessary
Conclude the Interview


Read more: Forensic Pediatric Consultants

November 2, 2014

School Safety Expert Witness On Playground Standards

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that each year in the United States, emergency departments treat more than 200,000 children ages 14 and younger for playground related injuries (Tinsworth D, McDonald J., Special Study: Injuries and Deaths Associated with Children’s Playground Equipment. Washington, DC, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, 2001). Tinsworth also reported that approximately 45% of playground-related injuries are severe – fractures, internal injuries, concussions, dislocations, and amputations. In QUESTIONS, ANSWERS and FALLACIES ON PLAYGROUND SAFETY, school safety expert witness Scott A. Burton, Safety Play, Inc., writes on ASTM standards s for the American Society for Testing and Materials.

ASTM creates safety standards for many industries, including playgrounds for public use, home use, children under two, soft-contained playgrounds, playground fencing, playground & sports surfacing, trampolines, sports equipment and facilities, amusement rides, etc.
Some or all of the playground safety standards are law in some states, and for some entities who have adopted it into their bylaws.

The current version of the ASTM Public Use Playground Standard is #F1487-11, published in November 2011. The current version of the ASTM Public Use Playground Fencing Standard is #F2049-11.

Although ASTM is a voluntary, non-profit organization, the Standards themselves are considered by some to be "voluntary" yet by others to be the "standard of care" (and are adopted into law in some states!). ASTM is always looking for potential members from various sectors. Interested parties are always welcome to attend meetings. They can become a member and learn the extensive process that we go through to make a Standard. Member categories include Manufacturers ("Producers"), Owner/Operators ("Users"), Consultants and General Interest. It is a forum for all concerned parties to express their own interests and ideas so that we can all come to an agreement on each issue at hand. This is a time-consuming process where, like laws, changing them reduces injuries and saves lives.

CPSC stands for the (United States) Consumer Product Safety Commission.
CPSC created the U.S. - CPSC Safety Guidelines on Public & Home Playground Equipment. CPSC also issues a checklist on Soft Contained Play Equipment (SCPE), as well as recalls of specific products of all kinds.
The CPSC "Public Playground Safety Handbook" #325 ("Guidelines") are law in some states and for some entities who have adopted it into their bylaws.

The original version of the CPSC Guidelines #325 was first published in 1981. The next revision was published in September of 1991. The revision after that was published in September of 1994. The revision after that was published in September of 1997, but was re-released in November of 1997 with minor corrections. The next revision was released on April 21, 2008. The current revision was released in November, 2010.


Read more: Scott Burton.

October 30, 2014

Contract Manufacturing Expert Witness On Contract Planning Risks

In Frequent Contract Planning Risks, contract manufacturing expert witness Robert G. Freid writes on the importance of the contract prior to the start of work.

- Customers have their greatest negotiating leverage before start of work. Once work starts it is often difficult to reverse course because of time constraints and resources.
- About a third of my outsourcing consulting services involves work as a consultant in legal disputes between customers and suppliers, and millions of dollars in damage claims. In most cases, no contract existed between the parties – at best, only an MOU. I've recently been an expert witness in such a matter with 10,000 pages of depositions and 1,000 exhibits from both sides. Very expensive.
- Contracts can take only a short time to complete. Time is reduced if the customer has a draft contract proposal ready when the supplier is selected, and if the draft proposal T&C's are within the range of industry practices.

Do not underestimate the project requirements
- Attitudes such as "what we need is not rocket science" or "the service provider is the expert" too often results in weak contracts and eventual unsatisfactory performance.
- Even major corporations make this mistake. For example, Boeing Aircraft said in a news article in the Seattle Times a couple years ago that the 787 program delay was due largely to their over-estimating key off-shore supplier capabilities.
- Also, be sure that your project requirements of the supplier comprehend the sometimes extensive requirements of your key customers.

Avoid using the bidder / supplier's templates
- Best practice contracts for the customer will in many cases, be almost entirely different than the bidder "standard" contract template.
- Bidder templates are often highly favorable to the service provider. Terms important to the customer either weak or missing entirely - for example: influence in selecting supplier's project manager (often a key factor for project success), contract termination restrictions on the bidder, liability limitations for the customer, comprehensive and relevant performance measures.

Plan for RFP language to be incorporated into the contract
- Be sure to consider how supplier responses will be incorporated into the contract. For example format of costing detail, expected PO lead-times, warranty, prices for potential future services – important if a multi-year contract.


Read more: Robert G. Freid.

October 12, 2014

Medical Malpractice Expert Witness On Legal Medical Causation Part 1

In CHIROPRACTIC / MEDICAL MALPRACTICE CAUSATION AND THE DEGENERATIVE SPINE, medical malpractice expert witness Richard K. Skala, DC, writes:

Proving or disproving Legal Medical Causation is based on testimony by expert witnesses regarding the “proximate” cause of negligence to a standard of reasonable medical probability. The plaintiff bears the burden of its expert being able to conclude to this standard that indeed negligence occurred and thus damage ensued. The defense expert bears the opposite burden of concluding to the same standard that there was no cause of negligence and thus no damage.

Regardless of which side of the argument an expert speaks to, their conclusions must be persuasive in terms of causation. The standard of reasonable medical probability essentially means that “it is more probable than not” that a chiropractor did or did not do something negligent during the course of treating a patient that resulted or caused some degree of damage. Experts on both sides of the arguments must be able to demonstrate that the conclusions they pose as “within reasonable medical probability” have enough evidentiary weight to convince a reasonable person that their conclusions are in fact correct.

The chiropractic expert will be challenged by the opposing party during deposition and/or trial in terms of the foundation used to come to their conclusions within a reasonable medical probability.

THE FARMER AND HIS DEGENERATIVE LUMBAR SPINE
In a recent case involving a 50 year old male farmer with no prior history of back pain who injured his low back in a fall and had low back pain he initially treated with his family physician (MD) for one month. The MD took x-rays and noted age/occupation consistent signs of degeneration at L5/S1. The treatment plan of medications and exercise provided no relief. After 4 weeks of failed treatment the farmer presented to a chiropractor with his complaint of low back pain. The farmer did not inform the DC of his prior MD treatment. The DC exam revealed only loss of motion and some muscle guarding. There were no abnormal orthopedic or neurological findings. No x-rays were taken. A treatment plan of side posture manipulation of the lumbar spine was initiated with three visits per week for three weeks. The farmer was also told not to perform his usual weight lifting routine and not lift more than 10 pounds or perform any forward bending motions. During the course of this plan the farmer indicated improvement and after four weeks, the symptoms were rated as slight, there was restoration of lost ROM and the farmer was discharged from the DC’s care. Four weeks after discharge the farmer returned to his family physician and provided a history of ongoing low back pain that had become worse, indicating that the worsening was directly related to the DC’s treatment. The farmer’s condition worsened, involving leg pain with numbness and tingling, which led to a referral to a neurosurgeon. The neurosurgeon had an MRI done with revealed L5/S1 disc herniation impinging the right S1 nerve root. Laminectomy, foraminotomy L5/S1 discectomy was performed. Post surgically the farmer suffered from permanent motor loss in the right leg. The farmer sued the DC for malpractice.

The plaintiff offered a chiropractic expert who testified that the DC had violated multiple standards of care. The basis of these conclusions was largely based on review of the medical records of prior MD treatment. The plaintiff also offered a neurosurgical expert, who testified that the DC treatment “significantly contributed to and likely caused the disc herniation,” basing these conclusions on professional experience and observations over the course of many years.


A Doctor of Chiropractic since 1976, Dr. Skala provides consultation and expert witness services for attorneys regarding Personal Injury; Industrial Medical-Legal Cases; Standard of Care involving General Chiropractic, Manipulation Under Anesthesia (MUA), Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression, and Extracorporeal Shockwave (EWST); Chiropractic Licensure Compliance California, and Workers Compensation. Declared an expert witness by the California Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board, he is a California Qualified Medical Evaluator (QME), a Certified Industrial Disability Evaluator, and a certified AMA Impairment rater.

October 9, 2014

Economic Damages Expert Witness On Future Earnings Part 1

In Personal Injury Litigation - the Difference Between Future Earnings and Future Earning Capacity, economic damages expert witness Ronald T. Luke, JD, PhD and Mary L. Hoane, CPA/CFF, MBA write:

This paper discusses one of many issues that can arise in calculating economic damages in personal injury litigation. The issue is the important distinction between projecting a person’s future earnings and a person’s future earning capacity. Earnings are defined as remuneration of a worker for services performed during a specific period of time. When projecting future earnings the economist is projecting the amount the person would have earned but for an injury. When projecting future earning capacity the economist is projecting the amount the person could have earned if he had chosen to maximize his earnings.

In litigation where the injured party remains alive and able to receive a damages award, the correct measure of damages is loss of future earning capacity; the amount the injured party could have earned had the injury not occurred less the amount he could earn given the physical or mental limitations resulting from the injury. When the injured party is deceased, the measure of damages in a wrongful death case is the amount of support the survivors would have received from the injured party. The starting point in calculating the amount of support is the projected earnings of the deceased: the amount the deceased would have earned and from which support could have been paid to the survivors.

Whether the difference between projected earnings and projected earning capacity is large or small depends on the demographic characteristics of the individual (e.g., age, gender, education, race/ethnicity, aptitudes, interests, physical limitations) and their individual life choices (e.g., child care, retirement plans, choice of occupation). When the injury is to a young person who has not established a career and perhaps has not completed his formal education, the economist must rely more heavily on statistics for the average person with the demographic characteristics of the injured party. When the injury is to an older person who has a lengthy work history and who has expressed his retirement plans, the economist can base his projections more on the specific characteristics of the injured party and rely less on statistical averages.

Dr. Luke and his colleagues have been accepted as expert witnesses in state and federal courts and before administrative agencies in more than 25 states.

September 27, 2014

Business Valuation Expert Witness Answers FAQ For Attorneys

In Do I need a forensic accountant or valuations expert in my case? business & accounting expert witness Richard Teichner, CPA, CVA, CDFAJ answers frequently asked questions attorneys have regarding forensic accountants and about business valuations.

Certified public accountants who provide litigation support services are often referred to as “forensic accountants”. They normally are used as experts in accounting related matters that are necessary in support of business or family law litigation matters. What makes forensic accountants different is that they are experienced in using multiple methods of financial and economic analysis to provide appropriate and objective conclusions on complex financial issues, often when the facts or data are incomplete. If you are representing a client in a matter that requires financial evaluation, such as a determination of economic damages, tracing funds that have been diverted, personal injury and other matters involving financial issues, then a forensic accountant can be a valuable asset to your case. If a business valuation is needed as a means to measure damages or for other purposes in litigation, in divorce matters, or regarding the purchase or sale of a business (or business interest), then a business valuator can assist in the process.

Forensic accountants often have experience in serving as an expert witness. When explaining complex financial analyses to the trier of fact, it is imperative that your expert witness is skilled at clearly and accurately explaining the details in a manner that can be easily understood. Expert witnesses also must be objective and utilize generally acceptable practices in order for their testimony to be credible and admissible.

How can a forensic accountant help my case?
Forensic accountants can assist throughout the litigation process. During discovery and fact-finding, they can aid your investigation by advising you on what documentation you should obtain. They can also help you identify the accounting and valuation questions pertinent to your case, which includes their assistance with formulating requests for production, interrogatories, and questions to be asked of witnesses at deposition and trial. Thus, this process can help you streamline your trial strategies and the focus of your case. The earlier you hire your forensic accountant in the litigation process, the more assistance and support you will likely receive.
What qualities should I look for in selecting a forensic accountant?

There are a number of qualities you should look for when selecting a forensic accountant to work with on your case. The following summarizes some of the factors to consider in selecting a forensic accountant or valuation consultant on a legal matter:
• Experience: How many years of practical accounting experience and expert consulting experience do they have?
• Education: Are they licensed as a Certified Public Accountant? Do they have any professional designations? Do they stay current with continuing education courses, books and publications?
• Ability to communicate: Will they be able to clearly express complex accounting theories and explain financial issues in a manner a jury can understand? Have they given presentations to attorneys and other professionals?
• Impartiality: Will they be objective? Have they served as a consultant both to plaintiffs and the defense in litigation matters?
• Credibility: Do they appear to be honest and believable? How do you think they will be perceived by a judge or jury?
• Support: In the preparation of your case for trial, how much advice and support do you think they will offer? Do they appear to be committed to your case without being biased?
• Confidentiality: Do they understand the importance of the attorney-client relationship? Do they have experience with handling highly sensitive documents?


Read more:
Mr. Richard M. Teichner
Teichner Accounting Forensics & Valuations, PLLC

September 24, 2014

Neurosurgery Expert Witnesses

Neurosurgery expert witnesses may consult on trauma neurosurgery, neurosurgeons, spinal surgery, and related matters. In Rules for Neurosurgical Medical/Legal Expert Opinion Services The American Association of Neurological Surgeons writes that "the American legal system often calls for expert medical testimony."

Proper functioning of this system requires that when such testimony is needed, it be truly expert, impartial and available to all litigants. To that end, the following rules have been adopted by the American Association of Neurological Surgeons. These rules apply to all AANS members providing expert opinion services to attorneys, litigants, or the judiciary in the context of civil or criminal matters and include written expert opinions as well as sworn testimony.

A. Impartial Testimony
1. The neurosurgical expert witness shall be an impartial educator for attorneys, jurors and the court on the subject of neurosurgical practice.
2. The neurosurgical expert witness shall represent and testify as to the practice behavior of a prudent neurological surgeon giving different viewpoints if such there are.
3. The neurosurgical expert witness shall identify as such any personal opinions that vary significantly from generally accepted neurosurgical practice.
4. The neurosurgical expert witness shall recognize and correctly represent the full standard of neurosurgical care and shall with reasonable accuracy state whether a particular action was clearly within, clearly outside of, or close to the margins of the standard of neurosurgical care.
5. The neurosurgical expert witness shall not be evasive for the purpose of favoring one litigant over another. The neurosurgical expert shall answer all properly framed questions pertaining to his or her opinions on the subject matter thereof.

B. Subject Matter Knowledge
1. The neurosurgical expert witness shall have sufficient knowledge of and experience in the specific subject(s) of his or her written expert opinion or sworn oral testimony to warrant designation as an expert.
2. The neurosurgical expert witness shall review all pertinent available medical information about a particular patient prior to rendering an opinion about the appropriateness of medical or surgical management of that patient. Revised 03/22/06
3. The neurosurgical expert witness shall be very familiar with prior and current concepts of standard neurosurgical practices before giving testimony or providing written opinion about such practice standards.

C. Compensation
1. The neurosurgical expert witness shall not accept a contingency fee for providing expert medical opinion services.
2. Charges for medical expert opinion services shall be reasonable and commensurate with the time and effort given to preparing and providing those services.


More information: https://www.aans.org/

September 20, 2014

Automotive Expert Witnesses & Recalls

Automotive expert witnesses may consult on auto defects, auto engines, automotive components, and automotive recalls. In the news, General Motors Co. is recalling some 2011-2014 Chevrolet Express compressed natural gas vehicles. About 3,200 vans may leak natural gas from the CNG high pressure regulator and catch fire.

SUMMARY:
General Motors LLC (GM) is recalling certain model year 2011-2014 Chevrolet Express compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles manufactured September 10, 2010, to April 28, 2014, and GMC Savana CNG vehicles manufactured May 23, 2011, to April 21, 2014. The affected vehicles may leak natural gas from the CNG high pressure regulator.

CONSEQUENCE:
A natural gas leak in the presence of an ignition source increases the risk of a fire or explosion.

REMEDY:
GM will notify owners, and dealers will replace the high pressure regulator, free of charge. The manufacturer has not yet provided a notification date. Owners may contact Chevrolet customer service at 1-800-222-1020 or GMC customer service at 1-800-462-8782. GM's number for this recall is 14321.

The NHTSA also announced this week that Adrian Steel Company is recalling certain model year 2012 Ford E-150, E-250 and E-350 Commercial Cargo Vans modified by Adrian between September 21, 2012, to September 24, 2012. The affected vehicles are equipped with certain propane fuel system conversion kits with an aluminum fuel line fitting manufactured by Roush CleanTech. Due to a reaction between the different metals, the affected kits may develop a propane leak where the aluminum fuel line fitting contacts the brass supply valve housing.

CONSEQUENCE:
A propane leak in the presence of an ignition source increases the risk of a fire.

REMEDY:
Adrian will notify owners, and dealers will replace the aluminum fuel line fittings with stainless steel fittings, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin in September 2014. Owners may contact Adrian customer service at 1-800-677-2726.

More information: Latest Recalls Announced by Manufacturers.

September 13, 2014

Pathology Expert Witness On Learning From Other Experts

In Expert Mistakes, pathology expert witness Dr. Judy Melinek discusses learning from other experts:

"An expert is someone who knows some of the worst mistakes which can be made in a very narrow field."
Niels Bohr

When I review others' reports and find mistakes I always try to learn from them because it is always easier to learn from others' mistakes than to make and learn from your own.

No one is immune to mistakes. It is what makes us human. The question is how do we, as scientists and experts, deal with our errors? Do we ignore them? Deny them? Or do we delve into the reasons why they occurred and make a change? And can we accept that by making a change in policy or procedure we will be opening ourselves up to future attacks by attorneys who will use the change as a basis to invalidate our previous opinions?

What are some of the worst mistakes? The worst I've seen are the result of arrogance. As an expert and legal consultant one needs to be confident and project that confidence when testifying. But knowing the facts of your case and showing proficiency in analyzing and conveying those facts is different from insulting or tearing down an opposing expert, criticizing the person instead of their opinion (ad-hominem attacks). I've been on the receiving end of those with opposing counsel making fun of me for having gone to Harvard or for my dress ("fancy"). Generally I know that if they are attacking me personally it is because they don't know how to attack me based on the facts of the case. I also know that the more obnoxious they get the more they will alienate the decision makers - the jury.

I have seen world-renowned experts, confronted with inconsistencies between their previous and current testimony, or between their testimony and a recently published article get defensive and even aggressive. They respond to legitimate questions with bluster and arrogance. Nothing turns off a jury more. The best way to deal with a direct attack is to address the specific issues at hand and simplify it for the jury. Explain to them why the case the attorney is asking about is different from the current case and how interpretations in science can vary based on these crucial differences. By the time the expert is done explaining, the jury will have either forgotten the attorney's challenge or gotten so wrapped up in the explanation of the facts of the current case that they will be right back along agreeing with the expert.

But how does an expert learn to keep her ego in check? The best way is to hang around people who know a lot more than you do. By teaching residents and medical students and working alongside staff in a university setting you are constantly barraged with questions that force you to challenge your assumptions and stay up on the scientific advances that drive the peer-reviewed medical literature. Take challenging consult cases: by sparring with attorneys on high-profile cases you are going to be confronted with sharp criticism and you'll find that you can't just rely on your experience and training - you need to stay current and sharp. And finally, go to professional meetings. Nothing humbles me more than attending an AAFS or NAME meeting, and sitting in lectures about the cutting-edge research others are conducting, or the challenging cases that others have successfully investigated. I can't sit for more than 10 minutes before having that "shoulda coulda woulda" feeling about some of my own cases. Yet at the same time, when I leave the conferences, I feel invigorated. Forensic science can be incredibly isolating, especially if you are the only doctor in a small rural Coroner's office. Lunching and dining with colleagues makes you realize that there is camaraderie and support; that we may not always agree on the best way to interpret an injury, or certify a death, but we can come together, break bread and do what scientists do best: collaborate.


Dr. Melinek is a American Board of Pathology board-certified forensic pathologist practicing forensic medicine in San Francisco, California as well as an Assistant Clinical Professor of Pathology at the UCSF Medical Center.

September 11, 2014

Security Management Expert Witness On Hospital Security Programs

In Sustaining Hospital Security Programs in an Environment of Decreasing Reimbursables & Increasing Demand for Services, security management expert witness William H. Nesbitt, CPP, writes that “many hospitals are facing a decrease in reimbursables, and sometimes, in an environment of increasing demand. When budgets get tight, unfortunately, security budgets become a target for belt tightening, sometimes at the expense on increasing liability. There are practical solutions to these challenges, but these solutions must be situationally determined because security is a situational discipline.”

The most logical first step is an objective assessment of your security program. Every security program is unique and should be driven by need. Security is a situational discipline which means that no two security programs are alike, nor should they be. We frequently find relatively good security programs that are none-the less inefficient and lacking in cost-effectiveness. The goal should be to do more, with less. The security assessment becomes the foundational basis for all that follows.

We believe there are two primary opportunities for cost savings for most hospital security programs, along with secondary options to further reduce costs. First, the application of CPTED (Crime Prevention Thought Environmental Design) and the application of technology, such as smart video with outsource monitoring. Applying CPTED strategies helps to ensure that the security program is truly synergistic and supported by all employees. CPTED has been around for many years, but not taken advantage. However the attack of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in 1995 and the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center caused security professional to look a broader based security strategies. As a result, CPTED principals are more in play than ever before.

Additionally, networked based security systems, especially video have had a substantial favorable impact on security budgets. Second, is the application of emerging technology such as smart video. In recent years technology has gotten better, and at the same time, less costly.
Clearly the security needs of hospitals have evolved since 1755, and continue to evolve to this day. Several years ago we had the privilege of working with Pennsylvania Hospital, one of the most unique challenges and most gratifying experiences we have ever encountered.
In recent years the outsourcing of security management has become an emerging trend. However, hospitals have outsourced departmental management for years for departments such as dietary, housekeeping, pharmacy, and facilities, to name a few. We believe that when it comes to outsourcing security management, the providing contractor should not have any conflicts of interest such as being a contract guard service provider.

Bill Nesbitt, who is a Board Certified Protection Professional (CPP) and the President of Security Management Services International, Inc., has been providing Security Litigation Support Services as a Security Expert Witness to law firms across the United States for more than 35 years.