A Bundle of Blogs: On bias in forensic work

I thought to gather these blogs together after posting the first one on bias in police work. There are good references attached to some of blogs.

Bias is alive and well and lurking in the shadows but, almost without exception, not deliberate by forensic workers.

  1. Is bias alive and well in police investigation? Posted September 20, 2022 This blog explains sneaky, implicit bias and offers some comment on how to deal with it plus some references. I’m certain the police officer’s comment prompting the blog was of the sneaky kind – he just didn’t know he’d been had.
  2. Ridding peer review of potential bias. Posted December 30, 2019 You have a choice on how to do this as explained in the blog. The six (6) choices go from best to least. There are also a few good references referred to in the blog.
  3. Are experts being broadsided by bias, unbeknownst to them? Posted April 12, 2018 I summarize bias as explained by three Toronto police officers at the two day Expert Witness Forum East in 2018. They identified eight (8) categories of bias relevant to forensic work then focused on two. Examples of bias are given including a serious one in Nova Scotia. This was a good conference; I was pleased to be invited to give a talk on the Principles Governing Cost Control in forensic work. (Ref. 1)
  4. Expert witness forum looks at bias and other touchy subjects in forensic work. Posted March 8, 2018 I give a brief summary of what took place at this conference and elaborate later in a detailed blog in April, 2018 (Item #3 above). I think what I was doing with this blog back in March, 2018 was giving readers a heads-up as soon as possible of a good conference. The blog does inform on bias and is worth taking a look.
  5. Biased experts cured with a soak in the “hot tub”. Posted January 31, 2017 This is a good read on an excellent method for ridding dispute resolution and insurance claim settlement of bias. The great success with this method in Australia, and the watchful eyes of newspapers like The National Post, will make it happen.
  6. Would I be perceived as biased? Posted July 2, 2014 I raise an interesting question in this blog: Would I be perceived as biased if I told counsel about literature that discusses both the technical and non-technical issues – including legal issues – of a problem in the built environment? Particularly if the literature proved to be of considerable legal interest and little or no technical interest. Hmmm? The question came up on the occasion of my researching the literature on the properties of a material used in construction in the built environment.

References

  1. Principles governing the cost control of dispute resolution and claim settlement involving experts. Posted July 30, 2019 with updates added September 24, 2020, March 18, 2021 and December 30, 2021.

(Posted by Eric E. Jorden, M.Sc., P.Eng. Consulting Professional Engineer, Forensic Engineer, Geotechnology Ltd., Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. September 27, 2022 ejorden@eastlink.ca)   

Is bias alive and well in police investigation?

I wondered this when I overheard a police officer comment, “The truth is somewhere in between”. He was investigating an incident and getting statements from different parties about what happened. Based on his comment, there didn’t seem to be any room in his thinking for one party’s view to be correct about what happened. I can’t say if he came with that mind-set – that’s the way all police officer’s think – or just how he thinks.

His comment is an example of implicit bias as discussed in depth by three Toronto police officers at an expert witness conference. (Refs 1, 2) The officers described implicit bias and explained how to deal with it. The two days of lectures on bias were excellent.

(I attended this conference and gave an invited talk on the principles governing cost control in dispute resolution. (Ref. 3)

Implicit can be defined as capable of being understood from something else though unexpressed. (Ref. 4) The problem is the something else is not explained. Is it reliable or no?

If the something else is the result of an analysis of the evidence leading to a conclusion like the “truth is in the middle”, that’s fine. But, generally, police officers on-the-run are not analysing evidence, they’re focusing on collecting it for analysis later by others.

And analysis itself is an exacting process. Think the scientific method. Also the two year course on data analysis offered by a college in Ontario – that’s two years learning the principles of data and evidence analysis. (Ref. 5)

I met a Nigerian chap who is in Canada enrolled in the two year course. He’s learning how to analyse data, facts and evidence to see where they lead. I mentioned the scientific method and he was quick to acknowledge that was part of it. I don’t think the police train like this, as a rule, to analyse evidence and statements by parties to an incident to see where the truth lies.

I’m certain police officers are trained in the collection of evidence, and analyzing it on-the-go in some situations. Witness what went on in Saskatchewan as I was writing this – police officers were analyzing evidence on-the-fly trying to find a mass murderer. But analyzing evidence as they collect it is not the rule.

You collect and analyse evidence by being thorough and objective, and on guard against implicit bias – a cardinal rule in forensic engineering investigation as carried out by experts.

We deal with implicit bias according to the Toronto police by: (Ref. 1)

  1. Understanding implicit bias
  2. Identifying the bias
  3. Reducing it
  4. Mitigating for the bias of your audience

***

I think implicit bias is alive and well but well suppressed by investigating police officers. It just manages to poke it’s head up from time to time. Bias saw the light of day for a moment in the comment by the chap I chanced to overhear but it’s not the rule. I know this to be true – police objectivity – from my 19 years volunteering with a police victim services unit and working with police officers.

References

  1. Virji, Aly, Staff Sergeant and Moosi, S. Ali, Constable, Toronto Police Service, Addressing Implicit Bias On and Off the Stand, 3rd Annual Expert Witness Forum East, Toronto, February 27, 2018
  2. Duncan, Peter, Instructor, Toronto Police Service, Addressing Implicit Bias: Interactive Session, 3rd Annual Expert Witness Forum East, Toronto, February 27, 2018
  3. Principles governing the cost control of dispute resolution and claim settlement involving experts. Posted July 30, 2019. Updated September 24, 2020 and March 18, 2021
  4. Merriam-Webster and Oxford Dictionaries
  5. Data Analytics for Business, St. Clair College, Windsor, Ontario

Appendix

  1. Expert witness forum looks at bias and other touchy subjects in forensic work. Posted March 8, 2018
  2. Are experts being broadsided by bias, unbeknownst to them? Posted April 12, 2018

(Posted by Eric E. Jorden, M.Sc., P.Eng. Consulting Professional Engineer, Forensic Engineer, Geotechnology Ltd., Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. September 20, 2022 ejorden@eastlink.ca)   

A Bundle of Blogs: On bundles of blogs

I decided to gather these bundles together on realizing that if there are several blogs on a topic it’s a useful reference in civil litigation, dispute resolution and insurance claim settlement.

These bundles gather 81 blogs together on the following seven (7) topics that are useful in forensic engineering investigation and expert services in.

I quickly reviewed the blogs in putting this one together. I was struck by the thorough research and careful writing needed in blogging on the standard of care and peer review; #1, #2 and #4. If you don’t mind me saying, I worked hard to get the state-of-the-art out there on these important tasks in forensic work.

  1. A Bundle of Blogs: On assessing the standard of care. Posted August 12, 2022. Contains a total of 5 blogs on the topic
  2. Update: A Bundle of Blogs: On the need for peer review in forensic engineering and expert services. Posted April 28, 2021 Contains a total of 2 blogs
  3. A Bundle of Blogs: On using visual site assessment in forensic investigation. Posted January 25, 2021 Contains 11 blogs
  4. A Bundle of Blogs: On the need for peer review in forensic engineering and expert services. Posted November 29, 2019 Contains 7 blogs
  5. A Bundle of Blogs: Aerial video of insurance and forensic sites taken with cameras mounted on drones. Posted October 31, 2019 15 blogs
  6. A Bundle of Blogs: How to manage the cost of civil litigation involving experts. Posted August 31, 2017 17 Contains 17 blogs
  7. A Bundle of Blogs: A civil litigation resource list on how to use forensic engineering experts. Posted November 20, 2013 Contains a total of 24 blogs

(Posted by Eric E. Jorden, M.Sc., P.Eng. Consulting Professional Engineer, Forensic Engineer, Geotechnology Ltd., Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. August 28, 2022 ejorden@eastlink.ca)   

A Bundle of Blogs: On assessing the standard of care

I thought to gather these blogs together after drafting the most recent one on ‘Multi-expertise…’ I realized again that assessing the standard of care is usually not easy and, regardless the ease, it’s always a responsible task.

There’s a lot of my explanation and thought on this in the following blogs, and reference material with the views of others accompanying the blogs.

  1. Multi-expertise is sometimes needed when assessing the standard of care and what a “reasonable person” would do. Posted July 29, 2022 I don’t think it’s a surprise that some tasks in most fields need input from more than one area of expertise or skill. This is obvious enough with a catastrophic failure in the built environment. It’s fairly obvious in some accidents causing personal injury like a nail gun accident. It’s not so much in more humble problems like that involving component failure, a house deck failure or the not so glamourous ground. I thought to illustrate this need for multi-expertise with this blog on two examples of humble problems.
  2. What happened to the “standard of care” – the degree of care that a reasonable person should exercise? Posted June 22, 2021 This blog was prompted by a newspaper report of a building failure in Ottawa. There seemed to be glaring absences of “reasonable people” at several stages in development of this structure.
  3. How the standard of care is determined when a failure or accident occurs in the built environment. Update. Posted October 30, 2020 This blog was updated to comment on the determination of the standard of care in an area that has not adopted the National Building Code (NBC). The NBC is a minimum standard for construction in the built environment. As such, it would be considered in what a reasonable person would do. This is a brief blog drawing attention to the issue noted in Blog #5 below. To be truthful, I’m not sure why I wasted your time with this blog; it’s all explained in Blog #5
  4. Is there a case for a multi standard of care? No. Posted June 27, 2019 This is a good read, informative, insightful and perhaps a tad funny in the odd spot. Also, some good reading in the References and Appendix.
  5. How the standard of care is determined when a failure or accident occurs in the built environment. Posted June 28, 2014 This is also a good and comprehensive read with recent updates and lots of References

(Posted by Eric E. Jorden, M.Sc., P.Eng. Consulting Professional Engineer, Forensic Engineer, Geotechnology Ltd., Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. August 12, 2022 ejorden@eastlink.ca)   

Multi-expertise is sometimes needed when assessing the standard of care and what a “reasonable person” would do

You need an expert when assessing the standard of care and identifying what a reasonable person would do during the investigation of an accident or failure in the built environment. (Refs 1) For example, an engineer who has investigated the cause of problems like the following:

  • Personal injury accidents
  • Component and catastrophic failure of structures
  • Ground subsidence
  • Landslides
  • Flooding
  • Potholes or tire-worn tracks in roads
  • Etc.

But what do you do when the problem requires an expert with two or more areas of expertise? For example, engineering design expertise and tradesman carpenter experience – like in house construction.

I thought this recently when repairing my balcony that is made of timber planks. And another time when underpinning a deck supported on a waste fill. In both cases I would need an engineer with tradesman experience to assess if what I did was reasonable – a slightly unusual combo of expertise.

Hmmmm…?

Repairing My Timber Deck

The tops of the outer ends of the inner two beams of four had rotted and no longer supported the deck planks properly. The beams had failed after 18 years. Why the inner beams and not the outer two? Also, why the tops of the outer ends of the beams and not the tops of the inner ends fastened to the house?

It was an easy call. It was a wetter environment at the tops of the outer ends of the beams beneath a lovely magnolia tree. The beams came to the end of their useful life for the environment they were in. All materials have a life in the built environment that engineers consider when designing.

Fixing the problem was an easy call too. Just replace the deteriorated beams with new ones. However, there is a difference in construction time and cost depending on how you do this.

The simplest, quickest, least expensive way involves installing new beams alongside the old ones. The old ones will rot away in time and the weight of the deck (dead load) and me and my family and friends walking around up there (live load) will slowly transfer to the new beams.

The more involved, slower, more expensive but possibly more conventional way involves temporarily underpinning the deck, removing the rotting beams and installing new ones.

Both repair methods will work but leaving the rotting beams in place is a tad unconventional. What would a reasonable person do, as required in a standard of care assessment? And where do I find such a person with lots of experience in both engineering and hands-on deck building?

I believe the bias in this situation would be to a person who has built a few decks but with some engineering experience.

Underpinning a Timber Deck

A friend’s deck had settled several inches over the years. The house and deck were built maybe 30 years ago. The wood deck and joists were supported on beams that in turn were supported by timber posts resting on concrete blocks. Typical residential deck construction.

Atypical was the concrete blocks resting on filled ground, not dense, natural ground typical of most of Nova Scotia. To make matters worse, the fill was a mixture of boulders, soil and tree stumps typical of waste material from a construction site. Fill, unlike natural ground settles over time; waste fill settles a lot.

But to give fill it’s due, the settlement decreases over time and becomes negligible in engineering terms. The time depends on a lot of factors including the type of fill and the natural ground below. I would expect a waste material like on my friend’s property to settle a lot and continue for a long time.

Measurements indicated the deck surface had settled about six (6″) inches midway between the corners at the rear. Examination of the bottom of the posts found a gap between the bottom and the top of the concrete blocks. The blocks had settled away from the bottom of posts as the waste fill settled. The gap was two (2″) at the midway post at the rear. Adding the size of the gap to the settlement of the deck indicated the surface of the waste fill had settled about eight (8″) inches in 30 years.

Fixing it was simple and easy, just install longer posts resting on the concrete blocks – a simple underpinning operation in engineering. But, what if the waste fill was still settling after 30 years and we come back a few months later and find gaps beneath the underpinning posts again?

Still an easy fix, install steel jack posts that can be adjusted in the future. The need for this adjustment would be apparent if the posts wobbled a little when examined later. Jack posts have a threaded section that can be screwed in or out like a big bolt – up or down in this situation – to remove any wobble.

But this requires periodic examination of the posts in the future. This could be avoided by excavating the waste fill at each post and supporting each concrete block on the natural ground below.

Another fix but a very expensive one, and a bit scary too because waste fills are unstable if you disturb them even after 30 years. Experienced engineers would leave the fill alone – let sleeping dogs lie – and experienced tradesmen certain to as well.

I believe the bias in this situation would be to a person with an engineering background who has built two or three decks.

***

Final thought on multi-expertise experts

The examples above are fairly simple but there are more complicated failures out there that require a team of expertise. What to do? For sure, be careful because there are those who claim more expertise than they’ve got.

The approach in engineering is to retain an engineer who would be the principal expert. S/he would identify the areas where additional expertise is needed and search for people in those areas and hire them. The principal engineer would then work with the sub-consultants/experts in determining cause. I did that when investigating the cause of a nail gun accident and also an old fuel oil spill.

References

  1. How the standard of care is determined when a failure or accident occurs in the built environment. Posted June 28, 2014 (The posted blog has been updated to October 30, 2020 as noted in the blog) A good read with lots of references.

(Posted by Eric E. Jorden, M.Sc., P.Eng. Consulting Professional Engineer, Forensic Engineer, Geotechnology Ltd., Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada July 29, 2022 ejorden@eastlink.ca)   

What nurtures expert engineers to do the right thing in dispute resolution?

The right thing requires experts to: (Refs 1, 2 and 3)

  1. Be independent from the parties who retain them;
  2. Provide objective, unbiased opinion evidence in relation only to matters within their expertise; and
  3. Avoid assuming the role of advocates for the parties that retain them.

***

The nurturing doesn’t get any better in Canada than that fostered by The Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer, and the presence of the iron ring on the working hand of an engineer. (Ref. 4) I thought this on realizing it was 100 years ago that the idea of The Ritual first came to mind and that 2025 is the anniversary of the first ceremony.

In 1922, H. E. T. Haultain, a Montreal engineer proposed the creation of a ceremony emphasizing a standard of ethics for engineers. The idea developed in talks with others at the time. He asked Rudyard Kipling to draft The Ritual after reading Kipling’s poem Sappers about engineers. The iron ring is given the engineer on recital of the Obligation during The Ritual.

You see the iron ring and know a Canadian engineer is wearing it and that’s important. But that’s about all you know because The Ritual is private for engineers and witnessed only by their peers and seniors in the profession.

Following is an abstract of the Obligation the engineer accepts when he answers the Calling. You can google the text in full as accepted by Canadian engineers for the first time in 1925 and most recently this spring, 2022. The iron ring is inferred in the Obligation by reference to Cold Iron:

“During The Ritual the engineer is called to morally agree, to the best of his knowledge and power, not to pass or be privy to passing bad workmanship or faulty material.

Nor refuse his time, thought and care towards the stability and perfection of any works in which he is involved.

He’ll take wages to which he is entitled and guard his reputation. But he will not belittle his fellows.

He knows he will make mistakes and asks forgiveness of his peers and seniors beforehand. He trusts that in the face of temptation the memory of his Obligation agreed to during the The Ritual may return to him to aid.

On his honour and Cold Iron he will abide by these things.”

You get some idea of the import of the Iron Ring on realizing it means more to many engineers than the piece of paper on the wall – the engineering degree. And that it serves as a subtle reminder – continuous nurturing – of The Ritual in which the expert engineer took part and the Obligation accepted.

References

  1. Stockwood, Q.C., David, Civil Litigation, A Practical Handbook, 5th ed., 2004, Thompson Carswell
  2. Principles governing the cost cost control of dispute resolution and claim settlement involving experts. Posted July 30 2019
  3. Civil procedure rule 55 in Nova Scotia
  4. Google The Ritual of The Calling of An Engineer also the Iron Ring

(Posted by Eric E. Jorden, M.Sc., P.Eng. Consulting Professional Engineer, Forensic Engineer, Geotechnology Ltd., Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada July 14, 2022 ejorden@eastlink.ca)   

Why do I still write and you still read – 10 years and 276 blogs later?

Why? Because I like to write, to compose something that didn’t exist before, like an essay – a blog. It feels good. Also because 10 years and 276 blogs is a respectable length of time and effort and it’s nice to keep it going.

I’ve learned that you like to read them too, if testimonials are any indication: A senior lawyer in Atlantic Canada said, “I love that stuff..!!”.  Another senior legal chap on the east coast commented, “…like reading them.”  And an insurance claim consultant said, “I read every one”.  It’s hard to beat comments like that.

I like to write at the interface between my field of study and others. I enjoy describing “…the nature and methods of forensic engineering and expert services” so you will understand.

It’s important that you understand because the dispute resolution process requires that you know something about the expert services that you retain and rely on. (Ref. 1) Same as I must know something about the process that I’m assisting as an expert. And, if I dare ‘fess up, I learn when I blog because I must research some topics, at least a little.

The title for this blog came to mind when I leafed through Ogilvy’s ancient text – 1963 -, “Confessions of an Advertising Man”. (Ref. 2) It’s all about stopping the reader in his tracks, getting him in off the sidewalk, and talking to him in plain English about a product – in this case, forensic work. A good read, still cited decades later regardless of what you write.

Then, as far as the actual blog is concerned I must never forget – like I do sometimes – to write in jargon-free English using short words, sentences and paragraphs. (Refs 3 and 4)

The fact that I like to write came to mind a few years ago. My daughters got after me to write a memoir about living and working around the world for seven years – in some interesting places and on some challenging engineering jobs.

One, the investigation and fixing of a railway embankment that failed in northern Australia, up near Thursday Island. I got to the site each day in a boat circled by crocodiles as we made our way across the estuary of a river.

Believe it or not some topics in forensic work are almost as exciting to write about as a crocodile that would like to eat you. I also want you to know about forensic work.

There are more reasons in the Appendix.

References

  1. The Advocates Society, Toronto, Ontario, Principles governing communicating with testifying experts, June, 2014
  2. Ogilvy, David, Confessions of an Advertising Man, MacMillan Publishing, New York, 1963, 1987
  3. Zinsser, William, On Writing Well, The Classic Guide to Writing Non- Fiction 7th ed., Harper Collins, New York 2007
  4. Mangraviti, James J., Babitsky, Steven and Donovan, Nadine Nasser, How to Write an Expert Witness Report, 2nd ed., 560 pages, SEAK, Inc., Falmouth, MA 2014

Appendix

  1. Why am I feeling good about blogging these days? Posted February 26, 2021
  2. Why do I blog? One reason: A blog is often like a mini expert report in story form. Posted August 15, 2019. Quite a good read.
  3. Why do I blog? – See a few good, perhaps one or two surprising reasons in the following. Posted July 13, 2018
  4. Why do I blog? Posted June 30, 2017
  5. Why do I blog on forensic engineering investigation? Posted July 22, 2016
  6. Why do I blog on forensic engineering? Posted August 7, 2014

(Posted by Eric E. Jorden, M.Sc., P.Eng. Consulting Professional Engineer, Forensic Engineer, Geotechnology Ltd., Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada June 30, 2022 ejorden@eastlink.ca)   

How to prevent claims and disputes – EPIC webinar

I’ve mentioned before that there are civil litigation and insurance claims waiting to happen in the built environment. We engineers see the potential often enough. (Ref. 1) Others do as well as evident by EPIC planning a webinar that will identify the signs and symptoms. Many of these occur during the project management stage. (Ref. 2)

EPIC (Educational Program Innovation Centre) is a company in Mississauga, Ontario that provides training and courses for engineers and technical professionals.

Many of their courses are well suited and easily understood by non-technical folk. For example, this one coming up on the warning signs of potential claims and disputes. It will be presented as a seminar on the web July 19 from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm Atlantic.

I was quite enthused when I saw the content as described by EPIC. It recognizes the value to those who cause the problems and those who are hurt by them. EPIC describe the course this way:

After attending this webinar, you will:

  • Learn about a large number of early warning signs of claims and disputes.
  • Learn what types of claims and disputes can arise from each warning sign.
  • Understand what must be done to prevent such follow on claims and avoid disputes.

Webinar description:

It is axiomatic that claims and disputes on a project do not simply appear out of nowhere. Experience indicates that when a dispute occurs, there is normally a back story or history of events, decisions, lack of decisions, etc. that can be traced back from a few weeks to several years that gave rise to the dispute. It is typically these past events or decisions that are identified as the “early warning signs” of claims and disputes.

Typically, it is only when claims are filed at the end of a project that attorneys and claims consultants review project documentation and interview the project team that these early warning signs are identified. And, in retrospect, many project team members comment “If only I had recognized that then!”

Research reveals there is little literature setting forth a detailed list of early warning signs of pending construction claims and disputes. Based on the collective observations of numerous construction claims consultants the Ankura Construction Forum collated these early warning signs into the typical phases of a project including:

  • Bid or Proposal Phase
  • Initial Contract Phase
  • Construction Phase

This webinar also identifies which party should watch for which early warning sign and what sort of claim or dispute may arise. 

This is a comprehensive seminar and worth attending. If there’s a hiccup in what EPIC is planning, it may be the omission of the design phase in project management, as in:

  • Design Phase
  • Bid or Proposal Phase
  • Initial Contract Phase
  • Construction Phase

Based on what I’ve seen over the years in my forensic engineering practice there’s no question that claims and disputes can arise out of the design phase in project management. Possibly witness the bridge failure in Saskatchewan hours after it was opened to the public. (Ref. 3) Fingers are pointing at the design engineer but, rightly so, the jury is still out.

It does seem as though the engineer was involved in all phases of the project – Design, Bid, Contract and Construction. I’m certain that EPIC’s webinar will throw light on what happened in Saskatchewan, as well as the signs and symptoms of claims and disputes on all projects.

References

  1. A reminder that failure and accidents are predictable even if the culprit is climate change. Posted May 11, 2022
  2. How is a forensic investigation different from a project? Posted April 30, 2022
  3. Did vested interests lead to bridge failure and trouble for the design engineer? Posted May 25, 2022

(Posted by Eric E. Jorden, M.Sc., P.Eng. Consulting Professional Engineer, Forensic Engineer, Geotechnology Ltd., Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, June 23, 2022. ejorden@eastlink.ca

Civil litigation and insurance claims waiting to happen?

I was annoyed at the back up in traffic on the approach to Fall River, Nova Scotia the last few days – at least till last Sunday when I was coming back to Halifax. It was kilometres long and took a good 3/4 hour to get past a highway construction site.

I was coming back to town after an engineering class reunion at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton. The back up was there on my way out of town the previous Thursday – four days earlier.

This kind of back up was not necessary, and it was dangerous too. It was caused by the heavy, bumper to bumper traffic in the two inbound lanes reduced to one at the construction site. The two outbound lanes were light of traffic in the extreme.

I don’t know why one of the heavy traffic lanes wasn’t directed across a temporary gravel road across the medium to one of the light, outbound traffic lanes. It’s simple engineering and been done before in Nova Scotia. Also, why wasn’t some of the heavy traffic directed onto the old road into town at one of the exits up the road? It too has been done before.

Dangerous as well like I said. The 4×4 Yahoos had no trouble dropping down onto the gravel shoulder and tearing up to an exit well before they should. Increasing the dangerous situation even more. Then there was the gravel dust kicked up by the Yahoos that the rest of us had to breathe.

I’m sure this avoidable traffic jam was an element in any later accidents in the area in the days or weeks that the avoidable jam was there. Also the cause of coughing and difficult breathing for some drivers and passengers.

There are civil litigation and insurance claims waiting to happen in the built environment – just ask an engineer – and they were there for a time at Fall River.

(Posted by Eric E. Jorden, M.Sc., P.Eng. Consulting Professional Engineer, Forensic Engineer, Geotechnology Ltd., Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, June 10, 2022. ejorden@eastlink.ca)   

How to get experts ready for Discovery

If most disputes are settled on the court house steps – I’ve seen 94% mentioned, one source said 98% – then the mistakes experts make during investigating and reporting are the ones that must be found out and corrected. This as compared to how tidy their CV looks, for example, or their demeanor and how well they answer questions during Discovery.

I would think the report is the hard evidence on the cause of the failure or accident, particularly if it’s been peer-reviewed. I repeat, if it’s been peer-reviewed. Wouldn’t this carry the day even if the expert messes up during Discovery?

The different categories of mistakes experts make and the numbers within each category have been identified, yet guidance for experts by different groups has emphasized report writing. There are lots of manuals out there including one big book that is 560 pages long, as well as guidance for experts by the judicial process on writing an opinion. It seems to me that says something wrt report writing.

I was prompted to comment on this when I saw the topic for the upcoming conference in St. Andrews, New Brunswick by the Atlantic Provinces Trial Lawyers Association (APTLA). It’s comprehensive and the speakers cover a lot on preparing an expert for Discovery – I wish I was free to attend – but it seems light on the expert’s Achilles heel – his report.

(Posted by Eric E. Jorden, M.Sc., P.Eng. Consulting Professional Engineer, Forensic Engineer, Geotechnology Ltd., Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, May 31, 2022. ejorden@eastlink.ca)