40 Organizations Now Endorse Recommended Practices for Design Professionals Engaged as Experts in the Resolution of Construction Industry Disputes
Silver Spring, MD: Forty organizations now endorse Recommended Practices for Design Professionals Engaged as Experts in the Resolution of Construction Industry Disputes, an annotated list of 13 "shoulds and should-nots" originally developed by the Interprofessional Council on Environmental Design (ICED).
ASFE/The Geoprofessional Business Association recognized the need for the document and spearheaded its development through the ICED, an "umbrella organization" also including, among others, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE), American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC), and The American Institute of Architects (AIA), all of which are endorsers. ICED assigned ASFE responsibility for the document's publication and management, as well as gathering additional endorsers. Thirty-one additional U.S.-national organizations have endorsed the document. They include such well-known organizations as: the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME); American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE); Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IES); Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME); and American Association of Engineering Societies (AAES). The four remaining endorsers include an international association of national engineering organizations (the International Federation of Consulting Engineers) and three U.S. regional groups.
According to ASFE President James W. "Jay" Martin, P.E., vice president and principal of AMEC's Earth & Environmental Division (Nashville, TN), Recommended Practices for Design Professionals Engaged as Experts in the Resolution of Construction Industry Disputes is believed to have received more construction-industry organization endorsements than any other similar document or position statement ever developed. Created by ICED in 1988, "Recommended Practices..." has been used extensively in legal proceedings, especially in matters involving the standard of care. According to ASFE Executive Vice President John P. Bachner, "To find a design professional negligent, a trier of fact - a judge or a jury - has to believe that the design professional failed to uphold the standard of care. But first the trier of fact has to decide what the standard of care actually was at the time of the incident in question. As it so happens, the standard of care is a moving target. It's what's commonly done by peer professionals operating in a given area at a given time. Practices evolve, however. What is common today may have been unheard of just five years ago."
Bachner explained that courts almost always require an expert witness to explain the standard of care in terms the trier of fact - usually a jury - can readily understand. He went on to say, "All too often, however, experts testify about the standard of care based on what they would have done or what a book says to do, and either or both of these measures may be seriously out of sync with reality. Experts need to conduct research to know what the standard of care was at the time in question, and 40 prestigious organizations concur unanimously. Experts who are cross-examined need to be able to explain how they reached their opinion about the standard of care."
Some of the other issues addressed in the document include conflicts of interest, expert qualifications, research methods and integrity, illustrative devices, and confidentiality.
Copies of Recommended Practices for Design Professionals Engaged as Experts in the Resolution of Construction Industry Disputes are available at $15 each at ASFE's website (www.asfe.org) or by contacting ASFE staff at firstname.lastname@example.org or 301/565-2733.
Established in 1969, ASFE's purpose is to "maximize the geoprofessions' importance and value to the marketplace." Mr. Martin said that ASFE achieves its purpose by "reaching out to public- and private-sector owners, design professionals, contractors, and others to inform them about the time- and money-saving benefits derived by relying on qualified geoprofessionals, and developing programs, services, and materials geoprofessional firms use to enhance their business and professional practices in order to become their clients' trusted professional advisors."
Geoprofessional firms provide geotechnical, geologic, environmental, construction materials engineering and testing, and related professional services. All ASFE-member firms' technical activities are under the full-time control of an individual who is legally and/or ethically bound to hold paramount public health, safety, and welfare. ASFE's associate membership comprises geoprofessional educators; geoprofessionals employed by government agencies, not-for-profit organizations, and industry; and attorneys and other consultants to ASFE-member firms.