Mike Panish is one of the most frequently retained consultants for all construction related services and trades with specialties in Doors, Door Hardware, Security, Automatic Doors, Cabinetry & Architectural Millwork. Mike is often used in the early stages of a lawsuit or claim, or prior to a law firm’s acceptance of a case to analyze the information provided by a prospective client. He is frequently called upon by insurance companies to evaluate a claim because of his knowledge and highly diverse background. He has been a retained expert witness in over 1450 legal cases since the year 2000, and regularly consults on issues that are not involved in legal disputes. Mike Panish is referred by attorneys that have worked with him or have been on the opposing sides to help resolve a potential claim or legal dispute prior to filing an action. Contractor fraud, dispute resolution for homeowners/contractors. Licensed in CA as a General Building Contractor, Electrical Contractor, Door, Lock & Security Equipment Contractor, Cabinet & Millwork Contractor, and Painting & Finish Specialties Contractor. 35+ years hands-on experience in all construction trades with over 1500 cases since the year 2000. Local to CA & New England. Nationwide Inspection & Testimony. Areas of Expertise:
Automatic Door Personal Injury, Wrongful Death Cases
Door and Door Hardware Personal Injury, Wrongful Death, Defects Cases
Cabinetry, Architectural Millwork, Furniture Personal injury, Defects Cases
Slip, Trip, Fall / Railings / ADA Personal Injury Cases
General Construction (all trades) Defects Cases, Personal Injury Cases, Wrongful Death
Premises Liability, Premises Security for Criminal Cases, Elder Abuse Cases, Wrongful Death
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.
The need to have increased security to public venues such as airports, schools, religious facilities, day care centers, shopping centers, and government buildings is nothing new. However, it has become apparent that many unexpected assaults and deadly attacks are coming from individuals that have gained a certain level of intimacy with the venues and organizations that they are invading. The attackers are not necessarily strangers, but people we know.
In December of 2012 a gunman broke into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut and viciously murdered 20 children and 6 administrators. Adding Sandy Hook Elementary School to a growing list of other tragic school shootings confirms that any educational institution should be considered a viable target for future attacks.
Every good attorney needs to consider the validity of every potential claim. As the most frequently retained door expert witness, working for both Plaintiff and Defense evenly, I have been retained on door injury and wrongful death claims that were not caused by malfunctioning doors or door hardware. As discovery has often shown, people in poor physical or mental condition who are left unattended or unassisted while moving through properly functioning doorways are often the genesis of their own injuries. All commercial venues have the responsibility to maintain their facilities to industry wide standards, seek proper routine maintenance, and provide daily inspections of their door systems. However, it is difficult to provide safe passage to every patron of their facilities when some of those patrons may include persons requiring diligent physical supervision, special assistance walking, or have special needs due to disease, mental incapacity, or other unknown infirmities.
One of the most common types of expert related calls that I receive pertains to some sort of door injury. Door injuries caused by automatic pedestrian doors, manual doors, or garage doors often lead to serious and potentially life threatening high dollar liability and personal injury lawsuits. My case load as a door expert witness is evenly split between plaintiff and defense. I have written articles, testified, and been consultant on many door injury cases throughout the country and abroad. In addition, my services have been utilized by defense teams representing cross defendants such as door maintenance companies also named in the chain of commerce.
As a door expert, I am called upon many times a year to evaluate garage door injuries. In my professional career as a general contractor and door & hardware contractor, I have installed many different types of garage doors. I have been involved with roll up doors, both for commercial warehouse applications and automotive repair facilities that allow the passage of a motor vehicle. I have installed and serviced life safety/fire drop doors typically seen in hospitals, pharmacies, labs, shopping centers and other commercial venues. I have placed sectional doors in apartment buildings, single family homes and condominiums. My company has custom built many types of garage enclosures that have had special cosmetic concealed purposes for themed attractions. Working on historic buildings has given me the opportunity to work on sliding barn type doors, hinged parting doors and old carriage style swinging doors. I have removed and replaced the older style, overhead vintage single panel pivoting hinged garage door from commercial and residential locations, and have installed a variety of newer and safer products.
The overhead or floor mounted concealed door closer is a very common type of door closer mechanism which is normally unseen and unnoticed. In the majority of installations, these concealed closers are used on aluminum glazed storefront doors, hollow metal stand alone, or structural framed window systems. The concealed door closer design concept was initially engineered as a self-contained product that featured a center pivot allowing a variety of door functions with no exterior arm or visible operating hardware.
During the past several years I have been contacted many times regarding door injury claims related to manual door closers. In response to numerous inquires asking if I have published any manual door closer articles similar to the primers I have done on automatic pedestrian doors, I am offering this article for general information to assist attorneys in determining potential issues relating to manual door closer mechanisms.
We are all used to opening and closing doors on a daily basis. Unless you encounter a problem with the function of your doors, you probably don't give their operation and component make up much thought. I am continually contacted by attorneys seeking my advice on an injury that took place because of an improperly adjusted or malfunctioning door. In this article, I am simply discussing manually operated doors. Nothing fancy or automatic about them, the kind where you grab a lever, push a plate or bang on a bar to enter or leave a room or building. So, if you want to learn to communicate professionally and simply with your door expert or even your building manager, read on.
If you run an active automatic door service company it is not a matter of IF you will be sued . . . it is a matter of WHEN ! What every door service provider can do to proactively protect their business.
As the retained expert witness on many overhead door injury and wrongful death cases, some of the injuries I have seen include injured or severed fingers and limbs, bodily trauma, and death. Disabling injuries often lead to involved lawsuits due to the combination of jobsite and employer, landlord and tenant contractual agreements, and property owner liability insurance coverage. Knowing who is responsible for maintenance and inspections of these doorways is essential.
In conjunction with many other articles that I have had published pertaining to high energy doors, or what most people think of when they say automatic doors, low energy systems can be equally dangerous and need to be appropriately and properly maintained.
Within the past few months, I have been retained as expert witness to evaluate revolving door injuries in over a dozen different locations nationwide. While I usually see an even distribution of sliding door, swinging door, and revolving door injury cases, the revolving door injuries currently seem to be the most prevalent. What is particularly interesting is that no two of my recent cases were created by the same problem.
I have been involved in many automatic door cases during the past few years working for both plaintiff and defense. As discussed in one of my previous articles (The Ins and Outs of Automatic Door Operation), automatic doors are highly complex pieces of equipment that require daily attention. Most injuries occur when some component of the automatic door system malfunctions.
A basic primer in how they work, what to look for, and how to analyze defects vs. deferred maintenance. Expert door contractor, Michael Panish, takes you through the basics for your case. A basic primer about Automatic Door functions.
Michael Fagan, QEC, is a nationally recognized Elevator Consultant with over 50 years of industry experience in elevator Design, Construction, Modernization, Maintenance, and Repair.
As a Managing Partner at JSG Elevator, Mr. Fagan interfaces with Federal, State, and Local governmental agencies and universities, owner representatives, architects, managing agents, and elevator code authorities in the locations of operations, new product availability, and reliability research.
Mr. Fagan's background includes working with NASA, the United States Navy, the United States Air Force, and the Veterans Administration on special projects, specifications for maintenance, repairs, and modernization. He has served as a National Elevator Industry Educational Program Instructor and is the author of numerous articles on elevator maintenance, modernization and repair for Building Operating and Management magazine.
Litigation Support - Michael Fagan has been a court approved Expert Witness for over 20 years. He has provided knowledgeable research and effective analysis in over 400 litigation cases and has been deposed over 200 times. Mr. Fagan provides litigation support, including mediation, investigation, and technical services to attorneys for both Plaintiff and Defendant, carriers, and manufacturers, in the areas of:
The demise of the hydraulic elevator was forecast with the introduction of the MRL traction elevator about 20 years ago; In spite of this new design conveyance, the hydraulic elevator is again beginning to thrive in the US market. The threat of replacement by the MRL traction elevator is now waning. Hydraulic elevators are still viewed by many within the industry as the best selection for many buildings, in most applications for travel of 50 feet and less, the hydraulic elevator will perform as well as a traction elevator. However, speed and travel is a limiting factor.
LECS (UK) Limited is an International Engineering Firm specializing in Lifts, Escalators, Facade Access and Funiculars (cable cars). With over 20 years of trading history, their specialized engineers are qualified, experienced and carry full professional insurances. Members of the engineering team have all worked for major contractors and have held positions including Senior Engineer, Project Manager and Commissioning / Test Engineers. As a result, LECS has over 150 years of accumulated experience within the key staff of the engineering team and currently employs 10% of the world’s graduates of the MSc in Lift Engineering from the University of Northampton.
LECS (UK) Limited is a member of independent bodies such as ACE, BSI and ConstructionLine. They have an accredited Quality Assurance scheme to ISO 9001 (2008) and are regularly audited. They provide services for many market sectors including overseas projects, hotels, retail, commercial health, local authority and heritage. The engineers at LECS (UK) have extensive experience as Expert Witnesses and Consultants in litigation involving lifts and escalators. Their services include preparing expert reports in accordance with Regulation 35 of the Civil Procedure Rules and also in Criminal cases. They are also available for adjudication and arbitration cases. LECS (UK) expert witness services have been called on in overseas situations including Gran Canaria, Dubai, Hong Kong, Spain and Turkey.
LGI Forensic Engineering, P.C., has built a reputation for being a leader in forensic engineering services on the East Coast. LGI is equipped with structural, civil, mechanical, electrical, and architectural engineers, and investigators who are available to analyze failures, perform necessary tests, and conduct research. LGI is also equipped with state-of-the-art machines in their newly opened laboratory to assist with all investigative needs.
All Forensic Engineering Disciplines
Evidence Collection and Retention
Laboratory Equipment and Services
Personal Injury Investigation
President and CEO, Steven Pietropaolo, PE, CFEI, CFII, is a Licensed Professional Engineer in the State of New York, amongst others. He is a Certified Fire and Explosion Investigator and a Certified Fire Investigator Instructor.
Mr. Pietropaolo has over 25 years of hands on engineering experience including electrical, mechanical, materials, safety, fire protection, and construction. He has knowledge of codes and standards used in construction and industry including building codes, safety codes, and industrial codes. He also has extensive experience in Utility Company procedures / equipment and investigating major incidents involving electrical, gas, steam system failures, and construction accidents.
Marc H. Richman, ScD, PE, has been actively engaged in Forensic and Consulting Engineering for over 45 years. He has personally supervised and conducted over 3,000 investigations for individuals, attorneys, insurance carriers, industrial firms, state and federal agencies and commission, and police and fire departments.
Dr. Richman's educational background at MIT was physical metallurgy and failure analysis. He taught as an instructor at MIT and ran the analytical Metallography laboratory there as well as set up the electron microscopy laboratory at MIT. At Brown, he was director of the Central Electron Microscopy Lab and was very active in Failure Analysis and Fractography as well as Analytical Metallography.
Dr. Richman has investigated failures of offshore drilling rigs and propeller shaft failures(Bethlehem Steel Shipbuilding), helicopter crashes on the Pan Am building and at Newark Airport (NY Airways and Lloyds of London), construction elevator failures (Gilbane Construction and Aetna), bridge failures (Mystic River Bridge upper deck - MassPort Authority), hydroelectric plant shaft failures (McCallum Enterprises), pressure vessel and machinery failures, military equipment and weapons failures, building failures and collapses (US Navy and others), and steel mill production (Italy).
Litigation Support - Marc H. Richman has testified for both plaintiff and defense in about 175 trials in civil and criminal courts. He has served as Technical Advisor to the US District Court (RI) on patent cases (Hon. Raymond Pettine) and has been a consultant for the US Naval Applied Science Laboratory, the US Army Materials and Mechanics Research Center, Battelle, Texas Instruments, etc.).
Dr. Richman has provided expert testimony from product malfunctions, to fatal car accidents, to peeling paint on the Pell Bridge, to the Pan Am Building helicopter crash, to water and gas main failures, to metallurgical examinations of murder weapons.
Quality Forensic Engineering, LLC is a full-service forensic engineering and accident reconstruction firm, providing engineering support to clients in the areas of collision reconstruction, premises liability, and product liability. With over 20 years of experience for each of our senior engineers, we utilize the latest technology for documenting evidence and retrieving data including FARO 3D scanning, aerial drone imaging, and black box downloads. Our forensic engineers are mobile, supporting clients throughout the U.S. Headquartered in Tallahassee, Florida with a satellite office in Jacksonville, Florida, we look forward to serving you.
Dr. Brian Pfeifer, P.E.,
With over 20 years of experience investigating and testifying in cases involving a variety of forensic engineering issues, Dr. Pfeifer is a leading expert in accident reconstruction, roadside safety, maintenance of traffic, and analysis of mechanical systems, and product failures. Dr. Pfeifer has a strong background in the design, development, and implementation of roadside safety hardware including guardrails, bridge rails, and crash cushions. Over 33 patents have been filed worldwide on behalf of Dr. Pfeifer and associated colleagues who invented safer guardrail systems and terminals, vehicle storage systems, shipping container handling systems, and material handling and storage methods. Dr. Pfeifer has published numerous papers to various organizations including the Transportation Research Board and Port Technology International, covering topics ranging from new guardrail systems, energy-absorbing guardrail terminals, and breakaway mechanisms incorporated in traffic signs to material handling technology. Dr. Pfeifer’s expertise has been shared with many organizations such as the Florida Justice Association, Palm Beach County Justice Association, American Bar Association, Defense Research Institute, and Alabama Defense Lawyers Association with presentations he’s made on topics including vehicle collisions, bicycle accidents, roadway constructions zones, and accident reconstruction expert witness utilization. Dr. Pfeifer is a registered Professional Engineer in three states and stays current with learning new technology in the field of forensic engineering. He has refined his skills and knowledge of accident reconstruction and roadside safety by taking dozens of continuing education courses over the span of his career.
Tractor / Trailer Collisions
Black Box Analysis
Product Failure Analysis
Maintenance of Traffic (MOT) evaluation
Restraint System Analysis
Ms. Traci Campbell, P.E., CXLT,
Ms. Campbell is an Industrial engineer with specialties in industrial accident reconstruction, including slip, trip, and fall analysis, human and environment interaction, forklifts, applicable standards and guidelines, and workplace-safety issues. Her expertise also includes vehicular accident reconstruction involving automobiles, trucks, tractor-trailers, and recreational vehicles, as well as, product failure analysis.
Slip / Trip / Fall
Retail Facility Safety
Human and Environment Interaction
ANSI / ASTM / Building Codes
Guarding & Warnings
Forklifts and Construction Equipment
Theme Parks / Recreation Safety and Facilities
Tractor / Trailer Collisions
Airbag and Black Box Analysis
Product Design / Failure Analysis
Mr. Chris Yates, P.E.,
Mr. Chris Yates, P.E., is a Mechanical Engineer with specialties in accident reconstruction, including electronic module downloads for both automobile airbag modules and tractor-trailer electronic control modules. His expertise includes auto accidents, tractor-trailer accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other roadway accidents. His expertise also includes seat belts, occupant kinematics, product failure analysis, and other general engineering issues.
Trusted by clients since 2001, Rauch Safety & Engineering specializes in guiding private and public clients through Complex Fall Protection and Confined Spaces Infrastructure Access and Maintenance projects across specific industry sectors and markets utilizing our global network of resources to provide comprehensive world class advisory and management services.
Infrastructure designs for newly built or modernization projects are becoming increasingly complex, presenting a challenge for future inspections and maintenance. The ability to safely, efficiently and cost effectively perform these critical services is an important component in maximizing investment and stakeholder expectations over the long term, while remaining true to the original design intent.
Rauch provides a value not currently available in the market, our scope of work is comprehensive, providing world class advisory and management services that run concurrently from the early design phase, through to vendor selection, equipment turnover, commissioning and training and if required, unbiased and impartial mediation in the event of dispute.
With methods and principles that reflect that of our architectural, engineering and contractor clients, who combine creative investigation, strong technical integration and long-range vision with conscientious adherence to a project’s goals and objectives, Rauch since 2001, has delivered over 1000 projects worldwide and we look forward to continuing to partner with our existing and new clients to deliver successful projects in the future.
Principal Areas of Specialization Include:
Auditing Evaluation of Corporate Fall Protection Programs and Confined Space Programs
Infrastructure Access Observation Program (IAOP trade;)
Structural & Façade Maintenance
Human Factors Engineering
Ladders & Scaffolds
Walking & Working Surfaces
OSHA / International / Consensus Standards and Recommendations from other Professional Organizations
Building Maintenance Units (BMU)
Installation & Commissioning – Specialized in commissioning BMUs, site testing, and hand over
Upgrades – Upgrades mechanical, electrical and controls to meet regulations and ensure equipment safety
Retrofit – Complete refurbishment, replace platform, mechanical, hydraulic, electrical and control system or Complete replacement
Service & Maintenance – Perform required 30 days service & inspection, 6 months, and 12 months service as per OEM specification
Training - Train on how to use BMU and operate under an agreement with OEM
Loading testing as per OSHA and/or in country and local Standards & Recertification
Custom Access Equipment
Installation & Commissioning – Commission, site testing, and hand over. Rauch can commission any equipment under the guidance of manufacture
Upgrades – Upgrades mechanical, electrical and controls to meet regulation and ensure equipment safety
Retrofit – Complete refurbishment or Complete replacement
Installation of Hands-Free system or dog lines as per OEM specification
Loading testing as per OSHA and/or in country and local Standards & Recertification
Infrastructure Applications Include:
Power Supply & Transmission
Current and Past Memberships & Affiliations
Society for Protective Coatings (SSPC)
Design Build Institute of America (DBIA)
The Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers (SNAME)
Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA)
National Shipbuilding Research Program (NSRP ASE)
National Association of Corrosion Engineers (NACE)
India Electrical & Electronics Manufacturers’ Association
Ranch Safety was appointed by the client to facilitate the development of a comprehensive, property wide fall protection strategy and to work with clients U.S. and international design and operations internal resources teams, together with external multicultural project critical members which included architects, engineers, government authorities and contractors