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Have you or your company/client ever been involved in legal action from liability?
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 Post subject: Liability and Legal Action
PostPosted: Sun Jan 15, 2017 1:20 pm 
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Joined: Mon Sep 17, 2007 5:00 pm
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Location: Scottsdale, Arizona
It’s no secret that the United States is a very litigious country.

Sometimes the more “interesting” interpretations that people use regarding codes, standards, design etc. tend to be more influenced by fear of lawsuits. I have had this conversation with many people over the years.

There are many reasons that legal action may be taken but this week’s question is very specific. It refers to: Liability from accident, injury, death, equipment failure. It applies to both the Plaintiff and Defendant.

Since this can be a sensitive topic, one of the answers is “can not answer”
Here it is:

Have you or your company/client ever been involved in legal action involving liability?
Yes
No
Can not answer


Stories are welcome if you are able to comment.


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 Post subject: Re: Liability and Legal Action
PostPosted: Sun Jan 15, 2017 4:29 pm 
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Joined: Tue Oct 26, 2010 9:08 am
Posts: 2174
Location: North Carolina
Generally speaking the results out of the court system shouldn't surprise anyone. However there are two exceptions. Any time a case gets decided by a jury, there is roughly a 10% chance that the jury comes back with a surprise. The second problematic case is with states with terms such as partial liability instead of all-or-nothing states. This sounds like a more fair way to do things but what happens in reality is that the courts spread some blame around to all parties instead of using the partial liability as an exception.

The worst one I know of is New Jersey. In that state essentially even if a worker's compensation case is settled, every X years they can reopen the case and come back for more money, over and over again, forever. And the system was designed where the burden of proof is entirely on the employer so the result is that most companies just try to settle as quickly as possible every X years to slow down the bleeding. The only practical solution in that state is to avoid worker's compensation cases like the plague, deny them at every opportunity, and move the business out of the state as quickly as possible.


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 Post subject: Re: Liability and Legal Action
PostPosted: Mon Jan 16, 2017 8:47 am 
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Joined: Fri Apr 15, 2011 7:43 am
Posts: 177
Location: Colorado
I have rarely seen electrical design become the subject of litigation but it does happen. I once heard there is somewhere in the neighborhood of 52,000 documents and standards that apply to electrical design yet most engineers and designers only use the NEC. I believe one reason is designers/engineers are held to "standard of care". This is much different than equipment manufacturers and constructors.

Any legal action I have been involved in has generally been over contract issues.


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 Post subject: Re: Liability and Legal Action
PostPosted: Mon Jan 16, 2017 9:50 am 
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Joined: Mon Jun 07, 2010 9:40 am
Posts: 119
Yes we have been involved, but the case had nothing to do with Arc Flash. Everything to do with product liability though.

We were involved solely because the injured party's attorney was including any body and everybody who had ever had anything to do with that item of equipment, looking for (IMO) a "deep pockets sugar daddy" that would rather settle than be involved.

After my deposition, we were dismissed from the lawsuit.
All the lawyer's doing, much more than mine. Largely in him preparing me, (and the fact that we never should have been involved in the first place).

[IMO it was about 75% the employers fault, and about 25% the employee, with perhaps a drop or two left for the OEM]
And yes I do believe in partial responsibility.


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 Post subject: Re: Liability and Legal Action
PostPosted: Mon Jan 16, 2017 9:56 am 
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Joined: Mon Jun 07, 2010 9:40 am
Posts: 119
And as a PS, while it wasn't arc flash related, it did have the effect of changing the way I approach what is, and isn't, included in all of my reports. Simply because I do not want to be involved in one again. If I am, the report will speak for itself, without me needing to explain why I included X, or didn't include Y, and exactly what I assumed, and why.


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 Post subject: Re: Liability and Legal Action
PostPosted: Tue Jan 17, 2017 10:54 am 
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Joined: Fri Jul 08, 2016 10:01 am
Posts: 227
Location: Indiana
No to liability as far as accident or injury occurred.

Yes, to contract disputes. 20-ish years ago or so I had to give a deposition about a project that went south for the contractor I was working for when the job was built. I had been gone from the company for nearly 2 years by the time depositions were being taken. It was several hours of the other sides lawyer asking me questions he already knew the answers to in an attempt to try to trip me up and put words in my mouth. After I figured out what that slimeball was trying to do I just started saying I couldn't recall with 100% certainty, which was true. (99% certainty, maybe, but not 100%.) I did not expand on any answers or volunteer any information. It was either yes, no or I can't recall with 100% certainty.

They eventually gave up on me and I never heard any more about the suit.

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 Post subject: Re: Liability and Legal Action
PostPosted: Tue Jan 24, 2017 2:30 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jun 07, 2010 9:40 am
Posts: 119
"the other sides lawyer asking me questions he already knew the answers to in an attempt to try to trip me up and put words in my mouth. After I figured out what that slimeball was trying to do I just started saying I couldn't recall with 100% certainty, which was true. (99% certainty, maybe, but not 100%.) I did not expand on any answers or volunteer any information. It was either yes, no or I can't recall with 100% certainty."

When they tried that on me, our lawyer would stop me from answering at all, and point out that I had already answered that question.


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 Post subject: Re: Liability and Legal Action
PostPosted: Wed Jan 25, 2017 1:16 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jul 08, 2016 10:01 am
Posts: 227
Location: Indiana
JKlessig wrote:

When they tried that on me, our lawyer would stop me from answering at all, and point out that I had already answered that question.


"My" sides lawyer (well, sort of, I no longer worked for the company the lawyer was representing, did give me some coaching before hand on not offering up any more than asked but he never stepped in and said not to answer during the deposition.

I was being asked specific questions for which I knew there was a paper trail. The guy keep hounding me about details from 2 or 3 years earlier. After a while I told him to get the records from the contractor as I knew they existed. He played dumb and said "we're interested in hearing what you know about it". Later on he whipped out those very documents he played dumb about and tried to grill me on any discrepancies between my memory and the documents. That's when I started giving no answer answers.

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