Excavation for Structures (Engineering SoundBites)

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Radiant heating has been in use since Roman times, and a common variant of this heating method involves placement of tubes that circulate heated fluids beneath floors, thus warming the floors that then in turn heat the surrounding structure. Even though metallic tubes once frequented this application, their cumbersome. Tulare County, CA Sup. One manufacturer recognized that rubber hose would be even easier to install than the somewhat rigid plastic conduits, and engaged a major rubber company to design a hose for the radiant heating market.

The rubber company supplied a hose formulation that was designed for and used in automotive cooling applications, which made some sense given that similar fluids at similar temperatures are circulated in both cases. The rubber company failed to test the newly developed hose under end-use conditions, and thereby neglected to detect a failure mode caused by hose hardening and embrittlement. Engineering experts for the plaintiffs conducted a simple end-use test that verified that the hose would degrade under foreseeable conditions, thus completing the step in the design process that was not performed by the rubber company.

On July 17, , during a tea dance in the vast atrium at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Kansas City, two elevated walkways collapsed onto the people celebrating in the lobby, killing of them and injuring more than The determination of what happened focused on the design and construction of the walkways. The story complex featured a unique main lobby design consisting of a foot by foot atrium that rose to a height of 50 feet. Three walkways spanned the atrium at the second, third, and fourth floors.

The second-floor walkway was directly below the fourth, and the third was offset to the side of the other two walkways. The third- and fourth-floor walkways were suspended directly from the atrium roof trusses, while the second-floor walkway was suspended from the fourth-floor walkway. During construction, the design, fabrication, and installation of the walkway hanger system were changed from that originally intended by the design engineer.

Instead of one hanger rod connecting the second- and fourth-floor walkways to the roof trusses, two rods were used—one to connect the second- to the fourth-floor walkway, and another to connect the fourth-floor walkway to the roof, thus doubling the stresses in the ill-conceived connection.

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Just prior to the collapse, about people had gathered in the atrium to participate in and watch a dance contest, including dozens who filled the walkways. It was the second- and fourth-floor walkways—the ones that experienced the design changes—that collapsed. Clearly then, in the iterative cycle of the design process, modifications to the original design need to be validated, and failure to do so can. Moalli et al. Further details of this event can be found in the second edition of this manual. Spanning a strait, the third longest suspension bridge of its time, the Tacoma Narrows Bridge opened on July 1, In November of that same year, it collapsed into Puget Sound.

During the design process, engineers failed to adequately account for the effects of aerodynamic flutter on the structure, a phenomenon in which forces exerted by winds couple with the natural mode of vibration of the structure to establish rapid and growing oscillations. In essence, the bridge self-destructed. It is fair to say, however, that aerodynamic flutter was not well understood at the time this bridge was constructed. Indeed, the term was not coined until the late s, years after the bridge collapsed. The root cause of this unfortunate circumstance was a desire to build a bridge with enhanced visual elegance i.

This should have led to a thorough testing and validation program to ensure that venturing into uncharted waters in bridge design would not result in unintended or unanticipated consequences. Those studies were completed and remedies proposed in November , just days before the bridge fell into the Tacoma Narrows channel. A substantial departure from the norm of appropriate testing and validation is an unacceptable application of the design process, and the collapse of this bridge is an all too sobering reminder of this. Automotive lifts are often used in dealerships and service stations to raise vehicles and provide access to components on the bottom of the vehicle for service.

To reduce the propensity for injury, ANSI and the American Lift Institute ALI promulgate standards that specify, among other things, the minimum resistance on the horizontal swing-arm restraints. The lift in question had a label on the lift support structure that indicated it was in compliance with these specifications, so.

This example is also further discussed in the second edition of this manual. The jury found for the plaintiff, implicitly recognizing the tenant of the design process that calls for testing and validation of design claims and features. After 2 years of construction the St. Francis dam in southern California was completed in and the reservoir behind it began to fill.

As the reservoir reached near capacity behind the foot-high concrete arch dam, the eastern abutment gave way shortly before midnight on March 12, , unleashing a wall of water over feet high that eventually dissipated into the Pacific Ocean some 50 miles downstream. The flood killed more than people and most likely more. The collapse of the St. Francis dam is one of the worst American civil engineering failures of the twentieth century. Mulholland had no formal education and was a self-taught individual.

While the ultimate physical cause of the failure was the proximity of a paleomegalandslide to the eastern dam abutment, a geological anomaly that geologists argue today as to whether such a feature could have been detected in the s, the inquest that followed the disaster determined that improper engineering, design, and governmental inspection was where the responsibility for this tragedy resided. Indeed, we now know that the design of this structure failed to meet accepted design principles already in place in the s. The dam height was increased by 10 feet at the start of construction, and another 10 feet midway through construction, bringing the final capacity to 38, acre feet.

No modifications were made to the base to accommodate this additional capacity, and there were a number of weaknesses in the design of the base. It is estimated that the factor of safety, which was meant to be above 4 in the initial design, may have been as low as 0. Geoforensics expert J. David Rogers enumerated many other design deficiencies associated with the St.

In this instance there simply was no credible design process from concept, through design, execution, and postconstruction surveillance. As a result, a massive failure ensued. On January 28, the space shuttle Challenger and its accompanying liquid hydrogen and oxygen external tank ET disintegrated over the Atlantic Ocean after only about 70 seconds of flight. The two attached solid rocket boosters SRB separated from the shuttle and ET and were remotely destructed by the range safety officer.

All seven of the NASA crewmembers were killed. We now know the physical reason for this catastrophe. Because of this, hot gases escaped through the breach created by the ineffective seal at the O-ring joint and led to the separation of the aft strut that attached the right SRB to the ET. This was followed by failure of the. Rogers, The St. Donald C. The massively uneven thrust created by the escaping hydrogen gas altered the trajectory of the shuttle and aerodynamic forces destroyed it.

Two investigations into the circumstances surrounding this disaster took place. Reports and findings were issued by the Presidential Rogers Commission 50 and the U. House Committee on Science and Technology. The Rogers Commission concluded that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration NASA and the O-ring manufacturer, Morton Thiokol, failed to respond adequately to a known design flaw in the O-ring system and communicated poorly in reaching the decision to launch the shuttle under extremely low ambient temperature conditions.

The House Committee concluded that there was a history of poor decisionmaking over a period of several years by NASA and Morton Thiokol in that they failed to act decisively to solve the increasingly serious anomalies in the SRB joints. Another way of stating what both reports essentially say is that the design process resulting in the double O-ring now a triple O-ring system was flawed. Moreover, NASA managers knew of this problem as early as Warnings by engineers not to launch that cold morning were disregarded.

Each SRB consisted of six pieces, three welded together in the factory and the remaining three fastened together at the launch facility in Florida using the double O-ring seal system. When originally designed, the O-rings were intended to remain in circumferential grooves. As a result, the design specifications were changed to accommodate this process.

The design itself, however, remained unchanged. If one considers that the original design concept was to ensure a seal between the SRB field-joined sections using two O-rings, the question on the table is whether the actual design and subsequent execution were consistent with the design process. Clearly this was not the case. First, the system performed differently than expected i. Validation and testing to ensure that. Second, the O-rings were known to have insufficient resiliency at temperatures substantially higher than those encountered on the day of the Challenger launch; therefore, launching at such a low ambient temperature equated to misuse of the system.

The unfortunate truth of all this is that an unsound design process most certainly will produce a flawed product. On July 25, , Air France flight , a Concorde supersonic passenger jet departed Charles de Gaulle Airport and crashed into a nearby hotel killing passengers, 9 crew, and 4 others on the ground. The physical cause was readily determined.

The Concorde was designed to take off without flaps or leading-edge slats as a weight-saving measure. Because of this, it required a very high takeoff roll speed to become airborne. This placed unusually high stresses on the tires. It had fallen from a thrust reverser assembly on a Continental Airlines DC that had departed minutes earlier. During its takeoff roll, the Concorde struck the metal debris and this punctured and subsequently shredded one of its tires. The tire remnants broke an electrical cable and created a shock wave that fractured a fuel tank.

The fuel ignited and an engine caught fire.

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The plane had reached a ground speed such that the pilot elected that it was prudent to continue the takeoff rather than abort. The crew shut down the burning engine. Unable to retract the landing gear, and now experiencing problems with the remaining engines, the crew was unable to climb and the aircraft rolled substantially to the left and contacted the ground.

In this instance, a design decision was made to save weight by not having retractable flaps and slats. This led to higher than normal landing and takeoff speeds. This in turn placed additional demands on the tires. They would be rotating at higher speeds and contain much increased kinetic energy. This meant that when one or more failed, the rubber shrapnel would be released with additional force. This led to a greater risk of puncture of the aircraft structure and therefore special consideration to ensure that the aircraft skin could maintain integrity in the foreseeable event of a tire rupture.

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Making the skin more resilient to puncture implied additional weight and this would work against the primary reasoning for not having the slats and flaps. And there we have the design conundrum. Having made what was initially regarded as a reasonable compromise in the aircraft design, the manufacturer subsequently gained experience with the Concorde, learning that tire failures could be potentially catastrophic the type. Between July and February , there were four documented tire ruptures on takeoff. In two of these instances, substantial damage was done to the aircraft structure, but the planes were able to land without incident.

Despite having these critical data related to the initial design assumptions and associated compromises in hand, no remedial changes were made to either the tire or aircraft design. After the crash, design changes were made to the electrical cables, the fuel tanks were lined with Kevlar, and specially designed burst-resistant tires were put into use. The Concorde fleet was retired from service in , with declining passenger revenues cited as the major cause. In the case of the Concorde, the record appears to indicate that designers chose not to alter the design, even in the face of significant data, until a fatal accident occurred.

Although these actions may be consistent with the above discussion on risk, and how it is perceived, the crash is illustrative of how the fundamentally simple design process works, and that departures from it can have serious consequences. It is less so the case for students who graduate with degrees in the basic sciences such as physics, chemistry, or biology or in mathematics. Typically, but not always, these basic science students will go on to earn graduate degrees.

In , U. Because these students are educated, as opposed to having been trained, one can never be quite sure how they will choose to use their tools, or add to the kit, or delete from the kit. Although carpenters share a common toolkit, we know the structures they build can be appreciably different in size, shape, and scope. So it is with engineers. One example that scientists and engineers can be one and the same is epitomized by Renaissance humanism during a period almost five centuries past.

Architects Norman Foster and Frank Ghery seized on recent advances in computer science and engineering to provide innovative platforms for architectural design that paved the way for radical changes in structural and visual renderings. This can be overlooked or ignored in the quest for limiting or excluding expert testimony. Without knowing how an engineer or scientist will use his or her toolkit and to what extent it will be replenished or modified as time goes on, it is not possible to begin to even second-guess what any particular individual may do to shape his or her career as time passes.

Being an engineer affords one the opportunity to continually remodel oneself as new and unexpected problems and challenges become evident. Even though it is an all too common tactic to attempt to confine expert witness testimony to the asserted domain of his or her named academic credentials, it is one that may necessarily lead to less-informed testimony than otherwise would be the case. This is a high price to pay when the desired outcome is finding the right path to both truth and justice.

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Licenses are required for engineering professionals in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, if their services are offered directly to the public and they would affect public health and safety. Licensed engineers are called professional engineers PEs. In general, to become a PE, a person must have a degree from an ABET 54 accredited engineering college or university, have a specified time of practical and pertinent work experience, and pass two examinations. The first examination—Fundamentals of Engineering FE 55 —can be taken after 3 years of university-level education, or can be waived in lieu of pertinent experience.

The FE examination is a measure of minimum competency to enter the profession. Many colleges and universities encourage students to take the FE exam as an outcome assessment tool following the completion of the education coursework. Students who pass this examination are called engineering interns EIs or engineers in training EIT and take the second examination after some work experience.

This is the Principles and Practice of Engineering examination. Whether an individual is licensed as a PE is neither sufficient nor necessary to establish his or her competency as an engineer. Furthermore, the two examinations test only for knowledge gained and assimilated at the undergraduate level.

It is therefore common for professors of engineering in colleges and universities not to have PE licensure—indeed, they are the ones who teach and prepare those who do take these examinations. Such an approach is unwarranted and inconsistent with the way in which engineers behave and think about the work they do. In the United States, accreditation is a nongovernmental, peer-review process that ensures the quality of the postsecondary education that students receive.

Educational institutions or programs volunteer to undergo this review periodically to determine if certain criteria are being met. ABET accreditation is assurance that a college or university program meets the quality standards established by the profession for which it prepares its students. This is made possible by the collaborative efforts of many different professional and technical societies. These societies and their members work together through ABET to develop the standards, and they provide the professionals who evaluate the programs to make sure that they meet those standards.

PE licensure is quite different from board certification for a physician or bar certification for a lawyer. Physicians and lawyers may not practice their professions without having such board certification.

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Such is not always the case for engineers and therefore it is not appropriate or correct to construe this to be so. In some states, businesses generally cannot offer engineering services to the public or have a name that implies that it does so unless it employs at least one PE. For example, New York requires that the owners of a company offering engineering services be PEs. In summary, licensing procedures and requirements are state specific, but such licensure is not a requirement to testify in federal court. As a postscript to this discussion, civil engineers often seek PE registration because of their association with public works projects.

This can be traced directly back to the failure and subsequent legacy of the St. Francis dam collapse in southern California in the late s. More about this disaster is discussed in Section III. Qualification Issues and the Application of Daubert Standards Engineers are treated like other witnesses when it comes to determining whether they can testify as factual or expert witnesses. Thus, if they have information regarding facts in dispute, an engineer can be a fact witness describing that information.

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In the context of the design of a product or the conception of an allegedly protectable method or device, that may take the form of describing what the engineer did to create the product or construct at issue, how he or she conceived of the subject of that product or construct, and how the product or allegedly. Daubert standards were established in the trilogy of cases, Kumho Tire Co.

Carmichael, U. Joiner, U. Merrell Dow Pharms. See generally Margaret A. As discussed above, engineers can also be expert witnesses. And as the court clarified in Kumho Tire , Daubert extends to all expert testimony, including testimony based on experience alone. Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26 a 2 B i , the expert report must contain the basis and reasons for all opinions expressed, and certainly the expectation is that oral testimony will do the same. Apart from opinions based purely on knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education, nearly all expert opinion is based on observations, calculations, experimentation, or some combination thereof.

When called as an expert in a products liability case, engineers will often complete a physical inspection of a failed product or accident scene. As a first step in the inspection process, engineers will typically document evidence or the accident scene using photography and videography. It may be worth noting that just as represents the first year that the official presidential portrait is digital, most engineers will record photos and video digitally.

Other measurements and readings can also be made at the initial inspection, as engineers establish the state of the evidence and attempt to determine if it has been altered subsequent to the incident. One important issue that often arises during an inspection is the destruction of evidence, and engineers sometimes argue as to whether testing is truly destructive. ASTM E provides some guidance that could be useful to the court in terms of providing a reference to engineers:. Destructive testing—testing, examination, re-examination, disassembly, or other actions likely to alter the original, as-found nature, state or condition of items of evidence, so as to preclude or adversely affect additional examination or testing.

In terms of inspections, destruction of evidence typically relates to disassembly or displacement of parts, and disputes can usually be resolved by establishing an agreed-on protocol between parties. If items that have physically broken or separated are at issue, it should be remembered that two fracture surfaces are created, each a mirror image of the other, and one can be preserved while the other is evaluated. Microscopic examination of failure surfaces, also known as fractography, is commonly used by engineers to determine the cause of failure.

Fractography can be used to establish such things as how the product failed overload versus a fatigue or time-dependent failure and whether manufacturing defects poor welds, voids, inclusions exist. After performing inspections of the evidence, engineers develop hypotheses as to the cause of what they are investigating and evaluate these hypotheses.

One common method of testing a hypothesis is experimentation, and engineers are educated and trained to conduct experiments, often to the displeasure of their. Although not intended to be an exhaustive list, these standards include:. Engineers can design tests to study kinematics motions and kinetics forces and to recreate accidents; to evaluate physical, mechanical, and chemical properties of materials; or to assess specific characteristics against claims in a patent. Because the circumstances surrounding accident and product failure investigation can be quite complex, and often novel as well, engineers sometimes must design experiments that have never before been performed.

This notion, experiments conducted for the first time for purposes of litigation, has been the topic of much debate. Although it is typically suggested that such work is biased and therefore ought to be excluded, an experiment that is designed and executed for the purposes of litigation is not inherently suspect. If the experiment has a well-defined protocol that can be interpreted and duplicated by others, articulates underlying assumptions, uses instrumentation and equipment that is properly calibrated, and is demonstrated to be reliable and reproducible, it should not be summarily discarded simply because it is new.

It is often the case that the precise matter in dispute has not been the subject of engineering or scientific studies, because in the normal course of events, the problem at hand was never addressed in a public forum and no peer-reviewed literature spoke directly to it. In typical engineering problems, because a multitude of factors can vary, it is often difficult to find suitable preexisting information, and the question at hand may not have been asked in such a way as is before the court.

The fact that problem identification occurs within the course of a legal dispute does not mean that the problem cannot then be explored directly using either the scientific method or the engineering design process or both to ascertain and understand the physical or chemical behavior of the issue at hand. In point of fact, an experiment that is designed for litigation will better fit the issues standing before the court, and either the plaintiff or the defendant is free to pursue this and to subsequently criticize the results.

Not only will experiments designed to specifically address the matter at issue be more directly relevant to questions at hand, they will also provide data the court can use in thoughtful deliberation. Indeed our personal experience has found this not only to be helpful in adjudicating complex issues for which no directly relevant prior work had been done, but in the end, after the litigation had been completed, peer-reviewed articles were written about the work that was done for the purposes of studying an issue for litigation.

Richard D. Muggli et al. Health ; M. Warner et al. Applied Biomaterials 73 ; Richard Hurt et al. Of course not all situations require novel techniques to be developed, and in those instances an abundance of standards for testing materials and products exist. Typically promulgated by organizations such as ASTM, ANSI, CEN, and others, these standards envelop everything from sample preparation, to sampling procedures, to test equipment operation and calibration, to analysis of data acquired during testing.

Although such a broad array of standards and guidelines exist, it is possible that some portion of even the more novel test may not be covered. It is also common for engineers to follow a standard to the maximum extent allowed by the circumstances and state of the evidence, and to note deviations from that standard in their protocols and reports. As part of this education, engineers learn how to derive equations based on scientific and mathematical principles, and consequently become aware of the limitations of a particular equation or expression.

Although it would be convenient if a single equation could be used to solve every engineering problem, this is clearly not the case, and so engineers must learn what principles to apply, and when to apply them. The difference between a good calculation and a marginal one is related to how applicable the equations used in the calculation are to the situation at hand, and how valid the underlying assumptions are. As mentioned above, it is the rare case in which an engineering analysis contains no assumptions. For example, there are well-known equations that relate the pressure inside a cylindrical vessel to the stresses in the wall of that vessel.

These equations assume, however, that the wall thickness of the pressure vessel is small compared with the inner diameter, and if this is not the case, significant error may result. If an engineer uses the more simplified approach, he should assess whether his analysis is conservative i. In the modern age, it is simple to download programs from the Internet that will make calculations based on input variables. Used blindly, though, without proper understanding of core assumptions or approximations, these programs can be precarious.

Computer programs should always be validated, and the simplest way to accomplish that task is to have the program calculate a range of solutions for which the result is already known. The program is then validated within that range. When hand calculations become overly tedious, or are too simplified to handle a highly complex problem, engineers will often use computer models to examine.

Quite distinct from the simple programs mentioned above used to solve an equation or two, these computer models employ enormous bodies of code that can solve thousands of equations. One of the most common techniques employed by these programs is the finite element method FEM , which can be used to solve problems in stress analysis, heat transfer, and fluid flow behavior. FEM is dependent on the computational power of computers, and basically divides the system or component into small units, or elements, of uniform geometry.

This mesh, as it is called, reflects the geometry of the actual system or component as closely as possible. Boundary conditions are established on the basis of known applied loads, and the fundamental equations of Newtonian mechanics are solved by iterative calculations for each individual cell.

The literally millions of calculations required for each time step can only be handled by a computer. In its early stages, FEM code could only be found in universities and corporate and governmental laboratories, and was executed by doctoral-level engineers who used separate programs to postprocess results into usable graphical output.

Today, commercial FEM programs are widely available, and are capable of generating eye-catching graphics that appeal to juries. Other software programs are available that create similar graphics for car-crash or mechanical simulations. This tool is as much an accepted part of the engineering design community as the slide rule was in the s. In addition, engineers involved in determining the cause of failure of mechanical systems have been using FEM since the s to determine the loads and strains at critical points in complex geometries as part of root-cause analysis efforts.

This is often a principal means to determine what actually caused something to break, and ultimately to determine whether a design or manufacturing defect or overload or abuse was ultimately at fault. FEM can, in certain circumstances, be a valuable tool to assess the cause of a design failure. To be sure, FEM, like any scientific tool, must be properly applied and interpreted within its limitations. It can be abused and misused, and because the output from these models can be made to appear extremely realistic, especially when coupled with computer graphics, their use needs to be carefully considered.

To summarily reject FEM as a simulation, though, would be to deprive a modern-day engineer of a tool that is regularly used. No matter how sophisticated the software, or how realistic the output seems, if the data fed to the program are inaccurate, the results will be poor, and thus can be misleading. The proper way to evaluate the efficacy of the model or simulation is to validate it, and this is usually done by processing known scenarios. Regardless of the qualifications of the engineer, if any mathematical model has not been validated within the boundaries at issue, its use in the courtroom should be carefully considered.

Additionally, once the model is used in litigation, engineers should be prepared to provide a fully executable copy of the model if requested during discovery. Engineers are trained to rely on literature as part of their work, and the literature they employ is nearly as varied as engineers themselves. Structural and mechanical engineers use codes and regulations when they design everything from buildings to bridges, and pressure vessels to heating systems an extended discussion on the use and misuse of codes is provided below.

Engineers rely on published standard methods when they conduct run-of-the-mill tests, scientific literature to test the efficacy of complex calculations and experiments, and textbooks to validate techniques and methods from their educational training. It is common for engineers to gather literature that addresses an issue about which they are testifying.

Industrial engineers may gather literature related to warnings, materials engineers may collect literature related to development and processing of a compound, and mechanical engineers may assemble literature related to stress analysis. Engineers may also rely on scientific and technical literature to assess the state of knowledge at a given period in time.

This is especially useful in matters involving intellectual property discussions related to prior art, best mode, and the like or product design state-of-the-art analysis. The topic of peer review is often raised concerning scientific and technical literature, and although the peer review process aids in the promotion of sound science and engineering, its presence does not ensure accuracy or validity, and its absence does not imply that a reference is scientifically unsound.

Engineers called as experts by either party in a products or personal injury case will likely review documents produced during discovery that relate to the design process of the product in question. From these documents, engineers can often assess whether appropriate actions were taken during the product design process, including product development, product testing and validation, warning and risk communication, and safety and risk assessment.

Because the specific constraints imposed on a design are not always apparent from internal engineering. Because engineers are problem solvers, their work frequently becomes the subject of disputes, which eventually involve lawyers and courtrooms. As a result, disputes involving engineering concepts and principles may be properly the subject of expert testimony from one or more witnesses qualified in the field of engineering. Just as there are a multitude of disciplines within engineering, there are a multitude of issues upon which engineers may be called upon to testify.

Some examples follow. Generally speaking, a product may be defective if it contains a design defect, a manufacturing defect, or inadequate warnings or instructions. Therefore, disputes regarding the efficacy or safety of products typically involve questions regarding whether the product was properly designed, tested, manufactured, sold, or marketed. The conception and design of a product is often a focus of dispute in a product liability case. An understanding of the way that engineers think and the engineering design process described above is essential to determine the nature of and extent to which engineering testimony should be admitted.

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  • For example, in medical device litigation, it may be significant to know the purpose for which the medical device was designed and the process by which the design at issue was. To gain that understanding, testimony from the product designer as well as testimony by engineers with experience in design may be helpful.

    The adequacy of testing done on a product is closely related to the issue of design defect. For example, an engineer skilled in fractography can testify regarding how and why a product failed. Russell v. Howmedica Osteonics Corp. Huntleigh Healthcare, F. Arctic Cat, Inc. Pride Mobility Prods.

    Ohio three engineering experts, including mechanical engineer with expertise as product designer, allowed to testify about defects in design of scooter ; Tunnell v. Ford Motor Co. See, e. Ingersoll-Rand Co. Mitsubishi Motors Corp. Synthes U. See Parkinson v. Guidant Corp. Exide, Inc. The manufacture of a product and the quality process through which uniformity of ingredients, processes, and the final product are ensured may properly be the subject of product safety litigation. Testimony of engineers with experience in designing and implementing manufacturing systems to ensure product quality may be critical in resolving product disputes and helpful to the court and trier of fact.

    Many product disputes involve claims concerning the adequacy of warnings that accompanied the product when it was first sold. In these cases, the focus may be on what was known through the conception and design phases of the design process and the necessity for and adequacy of warnings that accompanied the product in view of that knowledge.

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    Other disputes center upon the warnings that were added or could have been added after the product had been used and the company received feedback from users of the product. Thus, the case may be decided on the basis of whether the company conducted, or failed to conduct, design and testing activities in view of that information or whether the company modified the product or communicated to users of the product what it knew. But not all warnings issues are properly the subject of expert testimony, particularly with respect to products that are regulated by federal law.

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    But according to Thies, no loads will be suspended above those buildings. That crane had been erected on an unconventional foundation — it was attached to steel I-beams in an underground parking garage left over from an earlier, unfinished construction project on the site. The molecular engineering crane has the standard, concrete foundation recommended by its manufacturer.

    It is heavily reinforced. After the accident in Bellevue, the Washington state Legislature passed a law with new regulations for cranes, including more frequent inspections and required certification for crane operators. Thies said that Hoffman has always used certified crane operators on its projects. Operating the machine is done with two foot pedals and a couple of toggle switches.