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Forensic Engineering Case Studies of Machinery Product Designs

[+] Author Affiliations
R. Joe Thornhill, Ciro N. Ramirez, Clarence L. Long, Jr.

Thornhill, Ramirez & Associates, Inc., Leander, TX

Paper No. IMECE2002-32456, pp. 75-81; 7 pages
  • ASME 2002 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Safety Engineering and Risk Analysis
  • New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, November 17–22, 2002
  • Conference Sponsors: Safety Engineering and Risk Analysis Division
  • ISBN: 0-7918-3647-9 | eISBN: 0-7918-1691-5, 0-7918-1692-3, 0-7918-1693-1
  • Copyright © 2002 by ASME


Engineering case studies of two product liability lawsuits involving accidents with machinery are presented. The studies focus on the design, manufacturing, and marketing of these products and related legal issues. In the first case study a person riding on the access/egress step of a construction machine was injured when the step failed. Although the step had been damaged prior to the accident, the plaintiff alleged that the step design was defective, and this issue was further confused because the manufacturer had changed the design before the accident. The warnings on the machine and in the manual were adequate, but the judge ruled that neither the injured party’s behavior nor the manufacturer’s warnings could be discussed before the jury. In the second case study, a person was scalded by hot water and steam when he disconnected the inlet hose to a large sprinkler of the type used on a sports field. The product had a foreseeable design defect which directly contributed to the accident. There were also marketing and warning issues because no comprehensive manual was provided which adequately covered the integration of the subassemblies used in the product.

Copyright © 2002 by ASME



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