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Sample Case Descriptions

First responders treated a woman with lower back injures on a local golf course. Witnesses said that she was ejected from a golf cart as it was being driven by another woman from one hole to the next. She sustained major damage to her spine and hips. Forensic investigation regarded the presence/absence of safety devices such as safety belts, hand-holds or other restraints. Our conclusions contributed to the manufacturer being found negligent in their standard of care.

Company personnel discovered the charred remains of a maintenance technician beside a flaming oil well. The worker was performing routine maintenance duties on an old production site when the incident took place. Forensic investigation traced the source of the ignition to a faulty valve that had been installed on the pipe where the well came out of the ground. Our investigation discovered that the valve used was not the one specified for use by the owners of the well. In fact, the chain of custody showed that a distributor had substituted a valve meant only for use in water wells for the one that would have been certified for use in high pressure oil and gas wells. Even though the threads of the valve were significantly different from the mating pipe, a previous maintenance technician had somehow managed to cross-thread the valve in place, creating the opportunity for the valve to blow out violently, contributing to the fire ignition. Our investigation proved that the entire supply chain and maintenance company contributed to the negligence that caused the disaster.

A computer repairman was making service calls in Arizona in the middle of the summer. He was carrying his tool kit in the front seat of the vehicle. That kit included an aerosol can that was used for cleaning computer keyboards and removing other debris. His claim was that the can spontaneously exploded from the heat. He testified that the can hit him in the eye, causing his eyeball to dislocate and the loss of his vision. Our investigation concluded that the claim could not possibly have happened as alleged.

A youngster was electrocuted while attempting to charge the battery on his go-cart. The battery charger was very old and in poor repair. The boy was barefoot and the grassy field around the go-cart was saturated from a recent rain storm. The extension cord the boy used to reach the nearest outlet had the ground pin cut off because the older home had only two-prong, non-polarized receptacles. The issue addressed was standard of care in designing and manufacturing the device. Our investigation contributed to the manufacturer being found negligent.

Hospital personnel were unable to revive a young girl who was administered an incorrect intravenous medication. The youngster was admitted with breathing problems and an IV was ordered with a medicine designed to relieve her congestion. Forensic investigation revealed that the hospital pharmacy had dispensed a medication that had a very similar name, but was formulated to induce coma in seriously injured adult patients. Our investigation revealed that the automated prescription dispensing machine and safeguards to prevent erroneously dispensing drugs with similar names, as well as human error, were the causes for the fatality.

Investigators traced the origin of a house fire to a “boom box” in the living room of the home where members of a family perished from smoke inhalation. The CD player and radio were part of an entertainment center that was turned off during the night of the incident. Forensic investigation found that the plastic case of the device had ignited and dripped flaming plastic onto the surrounding furnishings and carpet. Most such entertainment devices are actually “on,” even when they are turned off. This is to allow remote control devices to be used to activate the main circuitry. Our investigation determined that the power supply, which was on continually, had defects in design and manufacture that allowed overheating of electrical connections to the point that they could cause ignition. Also, the plastic housing used by the Asian manufacturer was not flame retardant as required by their UL listing.

A major supplier of metal components to jet engines announced the recall of certain parts that may have contained contaminants that could cause failure in use. A customer located an included defect that could cause the component to crack and self-destruct inside jet turbine engines. Forensic investigation showed that there was a minor amount of included contamination that had made it through all of the inspections and tests at the factory and the components were delivered to a number of customers. Fortunately, none of the defective parts were installed before the defect was discovered. Our investigation revealed that the manufacturer had been purchasing minor amounts of raw material from a supplier that was not qualified to supply aircraft-grade material. In fact, the manufacturer had selected the supplier more than a decade earlier and had never actually performed their own qualification audits to ensure that the materials received were suitable for use in aircraft parts. Our investigation proved that the manufacturer’s extensive quality control procedures had failed to detect that this supplier had never been qualified to supply the materials, nor were they held to the ever-increasing level of scrutiny that had been placed on all other suppliers over the years.

A woman sustained serious back and leg injuries when she was thrown off her custom touring bicycle and hit the pavement. The handle bars apparently snapped from their mounting during a routine bike ride. Forensic investigation determined that a weld had failed on the coupling holding the handle bars causing them to suddenly detach, leading to the accident. The bike had been custom built from components from various suppliers selected by the manufacturer. Our investigations determined that the defective component was manufactured in Asia to specifications provided by to them. Unfortunately, the drawings did not specify how the weld was to be done. In the US, The American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM) provides standards for welding integrity that are imposed on welders to ensure reliability and safety. While such standards exist in other countries, there were no such requirements on the fabrication drawing. Our investigation proved that the fabrication methods were substandard.

Tom Taormina, CMC, CMQ/OE, FBP

Tom Taormina, CMC, CMQ/OE

"Tom brought a new perspective to defending our client that made determining standard of care more science than opinion."

Brian McMahon
McMahon Law Offices LLC