Consulting and Expert Testimony

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Accident Reconstruction

Project: Alvarez vs. Cheney - Ladder Fall / Accident Reconstruction

Mr. Alvarez was a building inspector of work performed by Stone Cheney Construction at Arthur C. Butler Elementary School.  While Mr. Alvarez climbed a ladder to the roof of the school’s media room, the ladder slipped from the side of the building.  Mr. Alvarez fell approximately 20 feet to the ground and suffered a severe head injury.

We investigated the accident and determined that the ladder provided by Stone Cheney for Mr. Alvarez to access the roof was defective, too short to be used properly, and not tied to the building properly.  We determined that absent these deficiencies, Mr. Alvarez would not have fallen.  And we determined that Stone Cheney had alternate means for providing Mr. Alvarez access to the roof.

Project: Fielding vs. PG&E Excavation / Accident Reconstruction, Construction Site Accident

Leland Fielding, his brother Timothy, and two of their friends were playing in an open gas-pipe trench excavation when the sides of the trench collapsed on them.  Timothy and two of the boys managed to free themselves, but Leland remained trapped by the dirt.  He died while his mother and brother tried to free him from the trench.

We investigated this accident and determined that the trench was in a public right-of-way.  It was not properly shored or protected in any way to prevent a collapse. No precautions were taken to keep pedestrians from entering the site – including children walking from neighboring residences to their local school.  No alternate travel path was provided for pedestrians.  Children were known to play in the construction zone.  Cars and construction vehicles were allowed to travel adjacent to the trench in such a manner that they could precipitate a collapse.  And the trench was not protected to prevent entry into it.

Project: Wise vs. J&M / Accident Reconstruction, Construction Site Accident

Mr. Wise was filling his water truck while double-parked near at a fire hydrant on a construction site in Pleasanton.  As he was putting away his filler hose behind his truck, a second water truck ran into the back of his water truck and severed his leg between the two truck bumpers.

We investigated and reconstructed this accident.  First, we showed that the power steering failed on the second water truck.  Next, we showed that once the power steering failed, the second truck was unable to maneuver and there was not enough time for it to stop before impact.  We determined that the location of the incident was in fact city-owned roadway and that the California motor vehicle code applied.  We determined that Mr. Wise’s employer had instructed him to park illegally in order to fill his water truck.  And we determined that the second water truck was not being independently operated – instead, it was being operated under the direction of the general contractor on the job site.

Project: Sandoval vs. RM Harris / Accident Reconstruction, Construction Site Accident

Mr. Sandoval was in the process of attaching a pile driver to the tip of a crane boom as it lay on the ground between two freeway overpasses in Mountain View, CA. Unexpectedly, the crane operator started to raise the boom tip.  Mr. Sandoval jumped from the boom and broke his arm.  Mr. Sandoval claimed that the accident was caused by inadequate lighting, inadequate communications, and an inability of the crane operator to see what was happening.

We investigated & reconstructed this accident; this included a detailed lighting and visualization study.  We inspected incident scene at night and measured available lighting levels with and without similar construction lights.  We created 3D models of the scene with photo-realistic lighting using ray-tracing technology. We analyzed luminance and illuminance based on test data.  And we determined that the crane operator had a perfectly clear view of the situation and had reacted properly to hand-signals given by Mr. Sandoval’s foreman.

Project: Plavsic vs. Maiden Lane / Elevator Accident Reconstruction

Mr. Plavsic fell down an open elevator shaft and suffered a major head injury.  We investigated the accident and determined that the interlock system between the elevator car and the hoistway doors had failed and allowed the doors to open when the car was not present.  We also discovered that the interlock mechanism had been altered in such a manner that it masked this failure.  To demonstrate this failure, we created a 3-D model and animation.  We also built an exemplar interlock and demonstrated the actual failure mode and the masking alterations

Project: Dillard vs. BofA / Accident Reconstruction

Ms. Dillard broke her ankle while exiting a Bank of America lobby in San Jose.  She claimed that she tripped on obstructions on the floor.  We created a 3-D computer model of the lobby, matched it to the security video tape, and demonstrated that Ms. Dillard could not have tripped over any obstructions because none were present.  We also demonstrated that she had a torsional fracture of her leg that was caused by Ms. Dillard planting her foot in one direction, twisting on this planted foot as she turned, and breaking prior to her fall.  This was support by the medical evidence and experts.

Project: Estrada vs. Schoepp / Fire, Accident Reconstruction, Construct Defect, Product Defect

At 1:00 AM on September 15, 2005, Ms. Estrada was severely injured in a 3 alarm fire that killed three other people. WCP&A reconstructed this fire and determined that Ms. Estrada first smelled smoke in her 3rd story walk-up apartment in San Francisco’s Mission district. She arose to discover that her exit was blocked by fire in both her main and exit stairways. Her husband was killed by smoke inhallation. Her daughter burned to death trying to escape down the flaming stairs. And Ms. Estrada was severely injured after she fell from a third story window gasping for fresh air before the fire department could arrive. WCP&A reconstruction demonstrated that the entry fire door failed prematurely, the smoke detectors in the unit did not function, and the main fire alarm did not sound.

Project: Holly vs. German Blanco / Accident Reconstruction

Mr. Blanco was driving northbound in the number 2 lane of Highway 101 south of Salmon Creek overpass on a rainy afternoon when he lost control of his truck.  He slid across 4 lanes of traffic into the guardrail on the western side of the highway.  Ms. Holly drove her car into the side of Mr. Blanco’s truck and was severely injured.  WCP&A reconstructed this accident and demonstrated that substandard roadway drains, grading, and shoulder width caused a temporary pond in the number two lane after a 10-year-recurrence-period 15 minute rain storm; this pond caused Mr. Blanco’s truck to start hydroplaning.  We also demonstrated that a substandard cross slope to the highway allowed sheet flow of water down the highway instead of to the shoulder & gutter; this prevented Mr. Blanco’s truck from regaining steering control.  We also demonstrated that Mr. Blanco was not exceeding the speed limit, the main storm had passed, and only light rain was falling at the actual time of the accident.

Project: Chelbab vs. Paramount / Scaffolding and Shoring, Failure Analysis, Accident Reconstruction, Product Defect

This is an accident reconstruction and failure analysis project. Amidst the installation of a modern new steel canopy for a busy urban subway station, the structure collapsed, and a worker was severely injured. WCP&A was hired to investigate the cause of the accident; a thorough structural failure analysis report was produced to aid the plaintiff in winning this court case.

Project: Hernandez vs. Aluma Systems / Scaffolding and Shoring, Construction Site Accident

An accident at a construction site in the San Francisco Dogpatch neighborhood sent four workers to the hospital. During a concrete pour, a drop in the falsework deck was noted. Four carpenters responded to the incident and were working to raise the deck to its finished elevation when the deck collapsed, causing three workers to fall down a stair shaft between 10 to 30 feet and sustain multiple injuries. WCP&A was hired to investigate and analysis this incident.