Expertly Speaking

Youth Football Expert Witness

The Football Fence Fiasco

Alan Caskey, Ph.D., Parks and Recreation Consultant ::::

In September 2009, the Plaintiff, then eleven years old, was playing tackle football in a youth league. When running with the ball along the sideline, the Plaintiff was tackled. The Plaintiff alleges that the tackle caused him to “fly through the air” for a distance of five to seven feet, impacting his left knee on a fence causing an injury.

Most youth football leagues and school teams follow the rules of The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFSHSA). Their football field requirements call for a 2 meter (6 foot) restricted zone (clear area) around the field. The football field at this park has a five to seven-foot clear area on the football field sidelines. Players and coaches are allowed within the restricted area.

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What Could the Truck Operator See? The 3D Evaluation of Surveillance Videos

Steven M. Schorr, PE, President of DJS Associates, and Laurence Penn, 3D Animations/Technical Assistant ::::



A collision occurred when a northbound pedestrian was crossing a city street and was struck by a right turning, southbound to westbound truck. The truck operator testified that the pedestrian was not visible to him as he executed the turn.

Two surveillance videos picked up portions of the movements of the vehicles prior to and at the time of the collision. A northbound facing camera showed the back of the pedestrian approaching and entering the roadway and showed the front of the left turning truck strike the pedestrian. A southbound facing camera showed the back of the left turning truck and portions of the front of the pedestrian approaching the collision area. The question that needed to be answered was, “could/should the truck driver have seen the pedestrian prior to impact?”

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Elevator Expert Witness

Elevator Maintenance at the Condo

J. Donald Kennedy, QEI, CET, Elevator/Electrician Consultant ::::

Case Synopsis: A resident of a high rise condo was descending on one of the elevators located in the building. When the elevator came to her designated landing, it decelerated normally and leveled into the floor where upon the doors opened to let her exit. While exiting, she claimed the elevator suddenly and without warning, fell downward causing her foot to momentarily get caught, which caused her to trip and fall forward hitting the floor and lobby wall.

Expert Analysis: Discovery documents revealed that the elevator in question had been modernized three months prior to the alleged incident, and contained all the requirements of the newest version of the ANSI 17.1 elevator code. Management of the condo association also maintained a log of all maintenance visits by the elevator company and documented any malfunctions reported to them by residents or guests. Management of the condo association checked the operation of the elevators when an incident was reported, and if there was a malfunction they secured the elevator out-of-service until the service company arrived and corrected the malfunction.

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Slip and Fall Expert Witness

Double Counting: Help Me! Help Me Again!

Irina Balashova, CPA, CIA, CFE, Forensic Accountant Consultant ::::

When assessing economic losses, be aware of potential double counting of damages utilizing different categories of loss.

Case Synopsis: A mechanic was involved in a slip-and-fall accident, injuring his back, which resulted in a partial paralysis. Plaintiff now requires assistance with most activities of daily living. Claims were made for future medical costs and for loss of household services (“HHS”).

Expert Analysis: The plaintiff’s future medical costs claim was detailed in a life care plan, which included assistance with activities of daily living, such as personal care activities, as well as HHS that plaintiff was unable to perform post-injury, such as cooking, cleaning, transportation and shopping. The annual loss amount in this category totaled approximately $50,000. The claim for lost HHS also included a variety of general domestic chores that could be performed by repair workers, maids, landscapers, cooks, and laundry workers. The annual loss amount in this category totaled approximately $8,000. Based upon the descriptions of services provided, it was apparent the plaintiff’s claimed loss of HHS included many of the same services included in the life care plan, as a subset of the activities of daily living.

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Gas station at night

Traffic Signal Pole and Cable Maintenance

Timothy O’Brien, PE, Traffic Engineering Consultant ::::

Case Synopsis: It was reported that a tractor trailer truck driven by the defendant pulled into the driveway entrance of an Open-All-Night gas station. As he pulled into the gas station, the tractor trailer impacted a low hanging traffic signal interconnection cable (cable). The force exerted on the cable caused it to pull down a light pole, a small tree and the metal traffic signal pole and mast arm. According to the gas station video tape, the plaintiff was the third vehicle traveling behind the defendant. The plaintiff was unable to avoid colliding with the collapsed metal traffic signal pole and suffered injuries.

Plaintiff sued defendant, the electric company, the township and the township’s signal maintenance contractor. The plaintiff claimed the defendant (truck driver) did not safely operate his truck thereby causing the accident that injured the defendant, and that the electric company failed to maintain the pole that supported the impacted wire. Lastly, the plaintiff claimed the township and signal maintenance contractor, failed to properly maintain the cable.

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Two Events, One Data Recorder

R. Scott King, BSME, Principal Automotive / Mechanical Engineer ::::

While standing at their property edge, waiting for a school bus, a father and son were seriously injured when they were struck by a passing vehicle that had crossed the opposing travel lane and departed the roadway. The vehicle traveled a short distance after the initial incident and came to a controlled stop in the roadway. Then, after a brief delay, the vehicle accelerated, traveled a short distance, and struck a tree. After the incident, witnesses reported the operator of the impacting vehicle was using her cell phone and appeared confused.

The vehicle operator reported no recollection of the incident and police investigators found nothing to indicate a mechanical malfunction. This conclusion was confirmed by an independent forensic examination, which included downloading data from the vehicle’s Event Data Recorder (EDR). The information from the EDR included five seconds of pre-crash data, as well as a crash-pulse record quantifying the crash severity. This particular EDR could record data associated with only one event. In this case, there were two events: the initial impact with the father and son, and the second with the tree.

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