As a construction expert witness, I am often asked about the importance of using safety equipment. I have many years of personal experiences with the proper observance of safety procedures and appropriate safety equipment requirements.
I have been the retained expert witness by both the plaintiff and defendant to determine the causes of a variety of significant injuries that have happened as a result of improper cabinet and millwork installation practices. In most claims, if product abuse or deferred condition was not the reason for the injury, poor installation practices that have omitted required hardware was to blame. Architectural millwork injuries have occurred repeatedly in shopping centers and malls, hotels, hospitals, airports, and offices throughout the country. Casinos and restaurants are also routinely the location of significant cabinetry related failures leading to serious injuries. Many offices and industrial buildings that utilize modular furniture have had employees injured by improper or completely unattached components. In my other articles, improperly attached architectural millwork has been discussed. Heavy mirrors and headwalls have fallen upon hotel guests while they were asleep in bed. Generally, these failures occur due to lack of appropriate fasteners, missed structural connections, or product tampering.
Mechanical fasteners, when properly used as recommended by the manufacturer, almost always assure safe and secure attachment of a fastened product. In commercial and residential applications, injuries resulting from mechanical attachment failures have often been attributed to inappropriate usage of products, improper installation procedures, or the failure of a poorly manufactured fastening product. When a product becomes disconnected from its point of attachment, serious personal injury can result.
This article will discuss plastic laminated products only. Although many other laminated materials are used for residential and commercial applications, plastic laminates are one of the most common products involved in casework claims and personal injuries.
My job as a cabinetry and millwork expert witness is to inspect and evaluate casework, cabinetry, or millwork that may have either failed or may be deficient in some way. Many of the past cases where I have been designated as the cabinetry and millwork expert witness have involved analyzing products that no longer exist because they have either been replaced or destroyed. What is available for review is often in the form of architectural elevations (renderings), photographs of the damaged cabinetry, or shop drawings and samples of the materials that were used. Generally, there is a question as to what entity is responsible for the monetary loss sustained. The usual course of action by attorneys is to sue all parties in the chain of events, from design through installation.
Having recently testified as the door hardware, lock and security expert witness on a very serious elder abuse case involving the rape of a 93 year old resident of a retirement home, I am intimately aware of the potential for physical violence and neglect aimed directly at senior citizens. The following is about a completely different kind of abuse involving our senior population.
The first two questions that I am often asked by attorneys during deposition or trial testimony are "On what percentage of cases do you work for the Plaintiff?" and "On what percentage of cases do you work for the Defense?"
Most of the misunderstandings pertaining to contractor and homeowner relationships occur as a result of unclear or wrongly interpreted construction contracts. Upon entering into a building contract, the enthusiasm for starting the proposed work often creates a kind of glazing over or dulling of the senses on the part of the homeowner. Many times questionable terms and arrangements for payment scheduling are accepted or unknowingly agreed to as the homeowner's urgent desire to start work overshadows common sense. Often, the lowest priced contractor seduces the homeowner with promises of more value for the money.
As a Construction Expert Witness, I have been involved in numerous homeowner vs. contractor lawsuits that turned out to be directly created by contractor fraud. In this article, I have combined a few different actual cases, highlighting the various tactics used by dishonest contractors to bait and then hook the homeowner. In all of these cases, the homeowner prevailed.