Omnia Forensis Ingenariae 
"All Things Forensic Engineering"

News and Views for the Forensic Engineer
and Their Legal/Insurance Clients

Richard A. Rice, PE - Editor
Edition IV - November 2016
Editor's Thoughts
It is our time of Thanksgiving.    
Thanksgiving Day is one of only a few American holidays that can be appreciated by all people no matter their heritage or belief.  Enjoy this time of year.
Two of my professional interests seem to be converging.  There is the subject of asbestos and the hysteria that goes with it, and the courts use of the Daubert standard to establish credible expert witness testimony.  For decades, plaintiff's experts have been using the "each and every exposure" theory to opine how someone got cancer from any type and level of asbestos.  Research has shown that this theory is flawed because it does not differentiate between the different types of asbestos, and that asbestos is naturally occurring.   Last month's edition of OFI had an article about how the Florida courts are pushing back on this theory.  Now we have Louisiana and Wisconsin.  See the "In the News..." section.


Subrogation and Hurricanes.  Two words you would not necessarily think go together.  Attorney Karen Fultz has written a brilliant article about recent updates to the building codes, and how those contractors who ignored them could be exposed to a subrogation action after Hurricane Matthew.  See the "In the News..." section.


In the spirit of the SCOTUS decision in North Carolina Dental Board v. the Federal Trade Commission, a recent law in Tennessee now gives the state legislature the power to completely regulate all state boards, including the professional engineering board.  The legislature now has the power to regulate "any rule, policy, or practice of a licensing board that affects a person’s ability to enter or continue to practice in a field."  See the "In the News..." section.


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Again, thank you.  If you have suggestions for OFI, please email me any time. 


Richard A. Rice, PE
In the News...
Louisiana and Wisconsin Follow Florida in Reining in the "Each and Every Exposure" Asbestos Theory Touted by Plaintiff Expert Witnesses.  
Apparently, plaintiff's experts in Louisiana and Wisconsin are having a hard time establishing the scientific validity of their asbestos theories.   For the complete Louisiana decision,  Click Here.  For the Wisconsin decision, Click Here.

As part of my research into why asphalt roof shingles are woefully inadequate compared to 40 years ago, I discovered a seemingly intentional gap in the knowledge offered by the news media and others regarding the dangers of asbestos.  Suffice it to say that to promote the absolute that all asbestos is dangerous is like saying all snakes are dangerous.  Please read my paper to educate yourself on the different types of asbestos, the inadequacy and dangers of asbestos substitutes, and to understand apparently why the courts are pushing back on the "each and every exposure" theory.

And Speaking of Reining In Expert Witnesses...
There is a team of two expert witnesses on Talc-Cancer cases who have testified for the plaintiffs in Missouri and New Jersey.  The judge in MO accepted the science of this team resulting in multi-million dollar verdicts.  The judge in NJ rejected the team because he thought the science unreliable.  Interesting.  For more on this story, Click Here.

Subrogation Potential You Probably Did Not Know You Had
The major US hurricanes over the past 20 years have prompted a beefing up of buildings codes.  Minimum wind design speeds have increased.  Structural member sizes and connections are larger and stronger.  The point here is that if you have a newer building that was damaged by a 60 mph wind when the design wind speed was 120 mph, why did this happen?  It could be that the contractor did not build to the updated code.  Please read the article by Attorney Karen Fultz on subrogation potential many insurance adjusters may not think about.  Click Here.

Tennessee Legislators Riding Roughshod Over All Professional Licensing Boards in the Volunteer State
As you know because you are a faithful reader of OFI, the SCOTUS has determined in North Carolina Dental Board v. The Federal Trade Commission that state licensing board members are "non-sovereign players" that are not protected from their actions because they are not supervised by the state.  To remedy this, and to address Tennessee's reputation as a "Top 15" state for burdensome licensing requirements, the new "Right to Earn a Living" law will allow Tennessee legislators to amend or delete the rules from all state licensing boards.  For the full story, Click Here.

Expert Testimony Regarding Philly Demolition Incident that Killed Six People
During the demolition of an old Salvation Army building in Philadelphia, PA, an unsupported wall fell and killed six and wounded thirteen.  The duty of the Salvation Army's and real estate investor's architect has come into question.  For the full story,  Click Here.

Stop the Spoliation!!!  Issue a Litigation Hold to Help Your Subrogation Efforts
To help with your subrogation action, attorney Jessica M. Skarin has written a great article on "Litigation Holds":  What are they?  Who should file them?  Click Here.

A Summary of Daubert Decisions!!!
From the law firm of Fish & Richardson we have "The Fish Daubert Digest" which summarizes recent decisions regarding the admissibility of expert testimony. It includes decisions in every area of law, from patent infringement to products liability, and is updated as new decisions are published.  Click Here.
Guest Writer - Pat Batchelor, PE

Pat Batchelor, PE graduated from Texas A&M University with a BS in Civil Engineering.  Pat moved to Atlanta in 1985 to work as a Consulting Civil Engineer on many public and private municipal projects.  

As a result of the economic slowdown in the early 2000's, Pat saw one door close and another open.  Pat discovered a knack for helping companies fill engineering positions, and working with engineers to help find those positions.  Pat eventually took the leap to become a full time Civil Engineering recruiter.  Pat has helped place dozens of engineers in civil, structural, and forensic engineering companies throughout the United States.   

Pat and I met several years ago when he discovered my resume and talked me into lunch to discuss a position his client needed to fill.   Even though the position did not work out, Pat and I continue to speak regularly.  He is extremely knowledgeable about what forensic engineering firms are looking for, and is very hands-on with his clients. 

Coffee Talk:  W hat Engineering Firms Look for in a Forensic Engineer?
Click Here for Pat's Article.  Thank you.
To contact Pat Batchelor, PE:
Pat Batchelor, PE - Executive Recruiter
Engineering Search Partners, Inc.
Did you know...?
The thousands of structures damaged by Hurricane Matthew will put pressure on the legal and insurance industries to quickly bring in qualified forensic engineers to assess the damage.  From the Florida Board of Professional Engineers (FBPE), we have the following:

  • ...FBPE has consistently taken the position that the actual testimony and related discovery actions in a court proceeding are within the purview of the courts and not subject to licensure requirement (as long as the testifying expert doesn't use the term P.E. outside of court or court documents). FBPE has held this position based on the fact that the decision as to who is considered an expert is for the court to determine.
But wait...there's more:

As for a licensed engineer engaged in engineering within the Courts; although possibly exempt from licensure requirement, FBPE has held that Florida P.E.s who opine in court settings, whether through testimony or reports, are still required to comply with Florida’s engineering standards requirements.

In a nutshell, while there is a legal exemption, if you come into Florida as a PE from another state to do forensic work, you are still bound by the rules of the FBPE board.  Thou shalt not lie.  Thou shalt not steal.  Thou shalt not violate the FBPE rules.  Amen.  To read the complete text, Click Here.
Expert Referrals
I have the privilege to work with many great forensic experts in the United States, Asia and Europe in the fields of Accident Reconstruction, Electrical Failures, Mechanical Failures just to name a few disciplines. Please allow me to refer to you a court tested expert for your next insurance claim or legal matter.  There is no charge to you.  I do not get a finders fee from anyone.  This is my way of helping you.  Plus, I can help my Forensic Engineering colleagues.  Please email me or call 404.395.7441. 

Note:   No warranties, expressed or implied, are made to the suitability of any expert referred to you.  Do your homework to make sure you have the right expert.
...about the Editor

Richard A. Rice, PE is President and Forensic Engineer for Mutual Engineering, Inc. - MEI.  Because of 30 years of continuous civil/structural design services, and his early and continued exposure to his friends and families many construction businesses, Mr. Rice is uniquely qualified to provide Civil/Structural Forensic Engineering services to the insurance, legal, and construction industries. Services include building design and construction, roadway design and construction, building inspection and code compliance, building/foundation collapse, construction site incidents, and other property loss subjects.  Mr. Rice is a licensed professional engineer in several states, and a Fellow and Board Certified Diplomate of the National Academy of Forensic Engineers (NAFE).

Mr. Rice has written a novel and numerous technical articles published in professional journals for NAFE, the National Association of Subrogation Professionals (NASP), and the Georgia Defense Lawyer Association (GDLA).  Please call/email Mr. Rice or visit his company's webpage:

Richard A. Rice, PE - Civil/Structural Engineer
Mutual Engineering, Inc. - MEI
(Office):  770.210.6644
(Mobile):  404.395.7441
Dr. Christine Jesup was a respected and loved obstetrician in the Low Country of South Carolina. Everything was good until tragedy struck. The ambulance carrying Dr. Jesup and her pregnant patient crashed on a defectively constructed road. Attorney Cephas Hampton, along with his forensic engineering expert, fight a corrupt road builder and an incredulous insurance company in an effort to help Dr. be made whole again.

" be made whole again"  is available now.   

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     Thank you!!!