Sample Forensic Cases

Forensic engineering is the science of failure. When products or engineered systems fail, personnel are injured, or property is damaged, we need to understand how and why. There are always root causes and contributing factors, which are very often technical in nature.

Our experts investigate cases for legal teams, plaintiffs and defendants, insurance companies, and property owners.

The following is a sample of forensic cases we have worked on.

  • Hard Drive Magnetic Field Susceptibility TestingDestructive testing to determine DC magnetic field intensity that modern hard drives can tolerate without data loss.
  • Electric Shock InvestigationWorker allegedly received electric shock due to improperly grounded equipment.
  • Grounding and BondingNeutral & grounding problems in a historic building alleged to be causing IT system interference.
  • Power Quality InvestigationTransients from lightning strikes were discovered to be causing damage to sensitive equipment.
  • Overheated CoilSolenoid coil overheats, damaging large 3-phase electrical equipment.
  • Electrical FireSafety device failure causes fire in HVAC electrical box.
  • Electrical FireFire in HVAC fan coil unit.
  • Overheated MotorAn electric motor overheating causes equipment & smoke damage.
  • Field MeasurementsMagnetic & electric field measurements determine exposure from power lines, electrical infrastructure or other sources.
  • Marine and Shipboard Power Systems
  • Electrical Fault AnalysisPost incident analysis of protective actions, electric code compliance and timeline reconstruction.
  • UPS & Battery SystemFailure analysis
  • National Electric Code Compliance ReportingConstruction phase and post construction

Recent Forensic Activities:

BATTERY FIRE

Client: Plaintiff

Synopsis: A high current lithium ion battery being transported experienced a fault, causing severe burns. My assignment was to produce a video re-creation of the event and determine causation.

ELECTRIC UTILITY WORKER ELECTROCUTION

Client: Defense

Synopsis: A utility employee working on high voltage overhead wiring was electrocuted. My assignment was to determine the causes of the accident.

ELECTRICIAN ELECTROCUTION

Client: Defense

Synopsis: An electrician working on equipment known to have defects, and on an installation with certain electrical code deficiencies, was electrocuted.

My assignment was to assess the electrical distribution system and determine what if any role the defects and deficiencies played in the accident.

ELECTRICAL INJURY

Client: Plaintiff

Synopsis: A consumer was shocked while using and electrical appliance. My assignment was to determine cause of the incident and investigate whether product defects existed.

POWER QUALITY

Client: Plaintiff

Synopsis: A manufacturing facility incurred major damage during a hurricane. My assignment was to assist with the insurance claim by serving as electrical expert and determining what equipment in the facility was damaged by electrical overstress (EOS).

PERSONAL INJURY

Client: Plaintiff

Synopsis: A malfunction of a radio controlled cart containment system was alleged to have caused injury to a person at a retail location. My assignment was to determine the mode of failure of the system.

ELECTRICIAN INJURY

Client: Plaintiff

Synopsis: An Electrician was injured during installation of underground cabling.

My assignment was to consult on Electrical Codes & standards, and to physically and mathematically model conditions that would have existed during the incident.

HEATING SYSTEM FIRE

Client: Defense

Synopsis: A structure fire is alleged to have been the caused by a defective component in a furnace.

Assignment: Equipment inspection, cause & origin report.

SHIP-SHORE POWER INVESTIGATION

Client:  Plaintiff

Synopsis:  A shore power facility serving a NOAA ship was experiencing excessive voltage drop and spurious breaker tripping.

My assignment was to identify errors & omissions by design engineer, determine root causes for the undesired operation, and investigate the existing design for sizing appropriateness and electrical code compliance.

HIGH VOLTAGE CONTACTOR FAILURE

Client:  Plaintiff

Synopsis:  A 5kV contactor trip coil failed resulting in destruction of a 700 horsepower air compressor.

My assignment was to determine cause of failure of the trip coil.

MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENT

Client:  Defense

Synopsis:  Nighttime motor vehicle accident resulting in death, where the circumstances of the accident made roadway lighting central to the cause investigation.

My assignment was to perform roadway lighting surveys and determine whether lighting was in accordance with generally accepted highway lighting design practice.

WATER MAIN RUPTURE

Client:  Plaintiff

Synopsis:  A 10 foot diameter underground water main ruptured, leaving large sections of a major US city and surrounding areas without domestic water service.

My assignment was to prove or disprove a theory that stray ground currents from surrounding railroad and electrical infrastructure played a role in premature corrosion of the failed pipe and fittings.

TRANSFORMER GROUNDING FAULT

Client:  Plaintiff

Synopsis:  Loss of a single utility phase revealed a high impedance ground fault due to installing electrician’s wiring error.  No protective action occurred, causing the equipment grounding conductor to melt and damage surrounding feeder conductors also.

My Assignment was to determine the cause of the accident and provide corrective design modifications.

DIGITAL COMMUNICATION SYSTEM FAILURE

Client:            Plaintiff

Synopsis:   Widespread intermittent failures in an automated digital communication system.

My assignment was to determine the cause of the failures and determine whether manufacturers allegations of power quality and proper grounding were to blame.

ELECTRICAL SHOCK INVESTIGATION, MANUFACTURING FACILITY

Client:            Defense

Synopsis:   A worker received a shock while using a sheet metal bending machine.

My assignment was to determine the cause of the shock and make recommendations for corrective action.

ELECTRICAL FIRE – WAREHOUSE

Client:            Defense

Synopsis:   A large warehouse was completely consumed by a fire alleged to have originated in one of two reciprocating compressors.

My assignment was to determine whether an electrical fault within compressors caused the fire.

ELECTRICAL FIRE – MANUFACTURING FACILITY

Client:            Defense

Synopsis:   An immersion heating element in a manufacturing building was accidentally energized in the course of making repairs to a fan motor, resulting in a structure fire.

My assignment was to determine whether the electrical contractor’s safety precautions were appropriate for the scope of work involved.

HVAC CONTROL SYSTEM FAILURE

Client:            Plaintiff

Synopsis:   Equipment manufacturer blaming building power quality for HVAC control system malfunctions following an extensive building energy efficiency upgrade.

My assignment was to perform power quality monitoring and determine whether any observed power quality anomalies could be responsible for the malfunctions.

STANDBY GENERATOR – E & O

Client:            Defense

Synopsis:   A 250kW standby generator installation at a school resulted in charges for extra services approaching 400% of the contracted installation quotation.

My assignment was to define implicit responsibilities of parties involved, identify errors and omissions by design-builder, and report on design flaws in material, workmanship and code compliance.

OVERHEATED CIRCUIT BREAKER

Client Name:  Plaintiff

My assignment was to determine root cause of, and assess any safety risk presented by an overheated circuit breaker serving critical hospital equipment.

ELECTRICAL SHOCK

Client: Defense

Synopsis:  Plaintiff allegedly received shock & burn from hair dryer that experienced an electrical failure.  My assignment was to analyze the failure and determine whether the conditions at time of failure would have allowed for the victim to receive a shock.

UNINTERRUPTIBLE POWER SUPPLY FAILURE

Client:  Plaintiff

Synopsis: A large redundant energy storage system protecting a data center experienced several catastrophic failures.

My assignment was to determine cause of the UPS failures.

HYDRONIC HEATING SYSTEM FAILURE

Client:            Defense

Synopsis: A hydronic heating system leak caused extensive flooding damage in a school.

My assignment was to examine and test electrical heating system components in order to identify root causes and contributing factors to the failure.

Permission to use or disclose my name in negotiations, or otherwise, or in any formal or informal way indicate that I am a consultant or expert witness in any matter, is not granted until I have been retained in that matter.