Expertly Speaking

School Bullying Expert Witness

School Bullying Litigation

Bruce Ira Levenberg, BS, MS, PD, SAS, SDA, School Bullying Expert

Some estimate that as much 90% of students in public schools have been harassed or bullied. According to the National Education Association (NEA), over 160,000 children refuse to go to school each day for fear of being bullied. Although public schools have strict protocols for reporting and investigation, only one in five (as estimated by of those occurrences get reported.

Bullying is unwanted behavior that is intended to harm others, aggressive in nature, characterized by a real or perceived imbalance of power, is usually marked by repeated behaviors and/or incidents, or that have the potential to be repeated over time. Categories of bullying include: Physical (physical actions), Verbal (cruel words, statements and/or name calling) Emotional/Social/Sexual (often in combination), and Cyber (using the internet for name calling, teasing and/or intimidation). All these actions can be done singularly or in combination by the bully aggressor in order to gain dominance and control over the bully victim.

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North American Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance Update

Leslie Lovre-King, Technical Assistant

Every year, the North American Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) conducts a coordinated, multi-day event targeting commercial trucks, trailers, and passenger-carrying vehicles. The purpose is to promote safety awareness within the commercial trucking industry and to ensure regulatory compliance. Each year, the CVSA selects one or two key safety metrics to highlight during its annual event. Data collected during these annual events help identify industry-wide safety deficiencies and help establish the focus of future events. International Roadcheck 2021 will focus on driver hours-of-service and vehicle lighting.

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Use and Performance of Gurney Restraints

John R. Yannaccone, Senior Mechanical Engineer

Case Synopsis: An ambulance service and their employees were named as defendants in a case where a vehicle crossed the centerline of the road and impacted the front of the ambulance. The plaintiff alleged that the ambulance crew failed to properly secure her to the gurney, which resulted in her moving forward during the crash and sustaining injuries that would have been prevented had she been properly restrained. According to the information available, the patient was still restrained on the gurney after the crash but slid forward, leaving her head and neck above the top of the gurney.

Plaintiff’s expert claimed she had been secured by the three cross straps, but that the ambulance crew had failed to use the shoulder straps provided by the gurney manufacturer. The expert opined had the patient been properly secured to the gurney using both the cross straps and shoulder straps, she would have been fully contained within the footprint of the gurney and would not have been injured during this incident.

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Furniture Expert Witness

Restaurant Lounge Chair Failure

Leonard J. Backer, Furniture Industry and Seating Expert

Case Synopsis: Plaintiff was an adult male sitting in an indoor lounge area of a restaurant, waiting to be seated for dinner. The subject chair was a heavy wood frame design with an upholstered seat and back. After sitting for several minutes, the chair frame loosened up and then completely separated at one of the critical frame connection points and the chair collapsed; plaintiff falling onto the tile floor and sustaining injuries. Plaintiff claimed that the incident was the result of a “manufacturing defect,” and an expert was retained by the defendant chair manufacturer.

Expert Analysis: Based on a review of certain documents, it was determined that the subject chair was over 7 years old at the time of the incident. In addition to reviewing the manufacturer’s sales literature and catalog specifications, a site visit was conducted to inspect the subject chair, along with exemplar chairs still in use after 10+ years.

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Swimming Pool

Hotel Pool Channel Proves Dangerous

Tom Griffiths, Ed.D., Aquatic Safety Expert

Several years ago, hotels began constructing indoor/outdoor pools with a connecting “swim-through” channel so that guests could swim from the indoor pool, through a channel into the outdoor pool. While this concept was unique, interesting, and attractive, it had several significant design flaws. Most important to this case, when built in the northern climates above the Mason-Dixon line, during the winter months the cold water in the outdoor pool would infiltrate and chill the water in the indoor pool through the channel. Because both pools were connected, and on the same circulation system, one pool could not be drained without draining the other.

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Rock Climbing Expert Witness

The Humpty-Dumpty Effect

Thomas Cocchiola, P.E., CSP, Mechanical Engineer

Case Synopsis: A school purchased a portable rock-climbing wall for summer camp sessions. For safety purposes, a belay rope is typically used to prevent climbers from slipping and falling. Most rock walls require a partner to hold a belay rope for each climber, but the manufacturer equipped the subject rock wall with an automatic belay fall protection system that eliminated the need for climbing partners.

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