CONSULTING ON HIGH-PROFILE ENGINEERING PROJECTS
Dr. Miholits ponders on the type of forensic literature research he needs to
for an engineering incident (failure or accident).
an unbiased evidence base for the attorney's Court
arguments in accordance with the 1993 Daubert criteria in section 2. ——►
WHY DOES DR. MIHOLITS
SPECIALIZE ON THE EXPERT WITNESS AREA?
He is an excellent
forensic researcher who has the
ability to think in both directions. He can postulate an
accident scenario (before the fact) and re-create the sequence of failure
events (after the fact). Therefore, he can provide
the legal profession unbiased scientific evidence
they need to satisfy the criteria in the 1993 U.S. Supreme Court Daubert decision.
|Photos and illustrations:
(1) a statue of Rodin's Thinker; (2) U.S. Supreme Court; (3)
photo of Dr. Ernest
M. Miholits; (4) a caricature of Albert Einstein; (5-6) DOE-WIPP-defense nuclear
waste repository; and (7-10) the Comanche Creek Nuclear Power
EXPERT WITNESS ENGINEERING CONSULTANT
has designed his consulting service for a specific target audience.
That is, an audience that can and/or may encounter accident incidents and/or
design problems that will benefit from his expert witness consulting
services. He has identified this audience to include the
These groups include: (1)
legal firms and (2) engineering firms who provide expert witness
services to these legal firms. This includes the forensic research and
litigation support services generally needed when engineering-type
failures, accidents or other undesirable events/incidents occur at
sensitive/high-profile engineering facilities. A typical example is the
aforementioned wide-range of nuclear fuel cycle facilities in existence.
Also applies to non-sensitive and non-high-profile facilities.
- The science and engineering problems that can
result from these undesirable incidents include, but are not
limited to: (1) effects on the environment; (2) hazardous and toxic waste
releases; (3) structural failures; (4) radiation
exposures to people; (5) various forms of
nuclear fuel cycle consequences; and/or (6) some other
- The above
problems occur because of engineering-related
failures, accidents or other incidents that can occur at
research, manufacturing and/or other types of
high-profile engineered facilities.
Examples of these facilities are in Sections 2
and 3 which follow immediately below.
These failure or
can be followed by a
undesirable consequences that could lead to litigation
actions. They include, but are not limited to: injuries, death, health effects,
losses, et cetera.
aforementioned expert witness consulting services include: (1) forensic research;
search, analysis and evaluations; (3) report preparations;
depositions; (5) testimony; and (6) other litigation support
He also offers expert witness services on engineering
projects that are not normally classified as sensitive
and high-profile (e.g., sanitary waste, industrial waste
and worker safety). He includes these areas for two reasons: (1) he
has experience in these areas; and (2) these areas usually come into
the picture when there is a nuclear or civil engineering incident.
Dr. Miholits can provide
these services because of the following factors:
He had important roles
on nuclear projects covering the entire gamut of the nuclear fuel
cycle. In his role as an "Expert Witness," his forte
is conducting failure analysis studies for specific types of failure or accident incidents
as they apply to nuclear and civil engineering
projects. In this respect, his most significant roles were on two large and
complex nuclear projects and one non-nuclear project. The two
nuclear projects are described below on this "Expert Witness"
webpage in Sections 5 and 6. The projects are: the WIPP (Waste
Isolation Pilot Plant) and the Comanche Creek Nuclear Power Plant.
The non-nuclear project was the structural upgrade of a retaining
wall at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) to prevent the
wall from coming down during a high-magnitude earthquake. This is
described under the "Engineering Consultant" tab, in Section 2, Case
he undertakes engineering projects which have been built and are in
The strength and
diversity of his teaching, research and engineering experience.
Please click on —►
EXPERT WITNESS ENGINEERING PROJECTS
target audience are those
engineering and science consultants who have an active, strong and
successful Client base in the consulting areas of: Forensic
Research, Litigation Support and Expert Witness.
In reality, they are engineering firms who specialize in the
Expert witness business. With his skills, he is certain that
he could bring to this company a great deal of talent, most especially in
the high-profile areas cited herein.
Dr. Miholits offers his
services as a subcontractor to these Engineering Firms
to assist them in their research, analysis and evaluations of the applicable
literature. These services include: (1) special assistance on subjects out of
their skill areas (but within his experience base); (2) a sophisticated analysis and evaluations
of the literature in accordance with their needs; (3) special search
skills; (4) work overloads; and (5) et cetera.
Expert Witness Engineering Firms in-turn, are assumed to be already under contract with those attorneys who are engaged in litigation
because of undesirable engineering incidents. These events
are assumed to have already occurred on
an engineering and/or science project.
He would serve as a
Subcontractor and as such perform a great deal of
the literature research, analysis and evaluations. In addition, he
would provide inputs to the Expert Witness Reports.
- He offers
these services in the subject areas
specified on this web-page.
Typical engineering facilities are: water and wastewater treatment
plants; nuclear power plants; nuclear fuel cycle facilities; etc.
- However, he can deal effectively with most engineering and science
- He defines an
undesirable incident as: (1) civil (structural failures);
(2) a hazardous waste release both in terms of quantity and the
hazard of the chemical; (3) environmental and regulatory issues;
(4) health & safety incidents; (5) nuclear issues (radioisotope releases
and/or radiation exposures); and (6) et cetera.
will I provide as a Subcontractor?
ability to separate credible from non-credible literature.
ability to do research, analysis and evaluations of a wide
cross-section of science and engineering areas with a high-level
ability to work with probabilities in the analysis and
evaluation of information.
- The ability to
understand the strengths, weakness and limitation of the legal system.
- What kind
of work does Dr.
- He obtains evidence for his
Client to support the needs of
the attorneys in the development of their legal strategy and
arguments re: existing litigation.
- He specializes
in the high-profile engineering areas listed on this
web page. These projects can result in civil, environmental, health/safety,
radiation and/or nuclear engineering consulting. He can deal
with most all engineering and science areas because of his broad
experience and education.
- He conducts
a search and research effort on the applicable engineering
or scientific literature in accordance with the needs and
requirements of the assignment.
- He follows
this with a
detailed analysis and evaluation of the uncovered literature in
order to support
the litigation actions. Again the level of detail is in accordance with the
needs and requirements of the legal profession.
- He also can participate in the
deposition and court testimony phases.
- He then
determines the needs of the Client. He has determined that the
Clients needs for services is answered by the
following questions. Are you engaged in these project types? Are
there any regulatory controversies or disputable conundrums? Are any
legal actions in process or on the horizon? Do you require
assistance because of a work overload, the special talents I bring
to the table or other reasons. If you answered Yes
to any of these questions, Dr. Miholits has the expertise to
Miholits offers professional services after a problem has occurred
on an engineering and/or scientific
project and this problem has already led to the development of significant legal
- Dr. Miholits provide comprehensive technical evidence
(arguments) to the attorneys for their defense. The format of the
presentation is defined by the Attorneys.
His analysis and
evaluations will be thorough, exemplary and without bias. His
work product will be based on good science. His findings will be
derived by the use of good scientific methods and his reports,
depositions and testimony will reflect a complete and fair
analysis and evaluation of both sides of the scientific
knowledge base. This will permit
the legal profession to see all sides of the evidence and develop their arguments without bias to
satisfy the 1993 Daubert criteria. The Daubert criteria say that
any evidence provided to the attorneys will include analysis and
evaluations of the data on both sides of the subject in
accordance with U.S. Supreme Court rulings. As an example of
Court precedence, please see: The Application of the U.S. Supreme
Court's Daubert Criteria in Radiation Litigation (1993).
high-profile engineering projects addressed herein all have some form of
risky, perilous, hazardous, dangerous characteristics which can develop
or lead to very severe legal ramifications,
if there is a
failure or accident.
And then there is the associated health and safety areas risks
(hazardous waste, ionizing radiation, etc.). Additionally, severe
injury and death may also occur. Dr. Miholits provides the science
and engineering evidence required by the legal community to build
their legal arguments for their case. Evidence on both sides of the
argument will be studied, analyzed and evaluated in detail for the
legal community. The latter will be in accordance with the 1993 U.S.
Supreme Court decision entitled, the "1993 Daubert Criteria."
these criteria say the following. The 1993 U.S. Supreme Court
established a standard for determining the admissibility of expert
scientific evidence in litigation. This Court precedence, is described
in a decision entitled, The Application of the U.S. Supreme
Court's Daubert Criteria in Radiation Litigation (1993). This
Court precedence is now known as the
1993 Daubert Criteria,
named after the pertinent case, Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals,
Inc. The Daubert Criteria require that the Courts
determine whether or not: (1) the expert's work product is based on good
science; (2) the expert's work is thorough, exemplary and without bias;
(3) the expert's findings are derived by the use of an accepted
scientific method; and (4) the expert's testimony reflects a complete
and fair analysis and evaluation of both sides of the scientific
knowledge base. The preceding will then permit the legal profession to
see all sides of the evidence and develop their arguments accordingly
and in conformance with the 1993 Daubert Criteria.
HOW DOES DR. MIHOLITS DEFINE A HIGH-PROFILE ENGINEERING PROJECT?
Engineering Projects cited herein, are generally in the
Public Eye. The reason being that in many cases they are judged
on the basis of their public image and perception (e.g., nuclear
projects are normally considered dangerous and have greater risks). But
in reality, the facts may prove otherwise. In Dr. Miholits' opinion, the
goal of both Phases is to uncover the factual information
(the truth) and present the evidence to his Client in a
fashion which ensures legal success.
Miholits' definition of a High-Profile Engineering Project
High-profile engineering projects are most notable for being able to
create an undesirable incident. All of the project types named by
Dr. Miholits are projects which might be correctly called,
Risky or Perilous Engineering Projects. Definitions used
herein were created by Dr. Miholits.
Types of undesirable incidents which may occur from these
projects include: (1) civil engineering issues (structural
failures); (2) a hazardous waste release both (specific
chemicals possess a hazard based on their identity,
concentration and quantity of release); (3) environmental and
regulatory issues; (4) health & safety incidents; (5) nuclear
fuel cycle issues (radioisotope releases and/or radiation
exposures); and (6) et cetera.
Undesirable incidents may have a significant litigation risk
being the case, in the Engineering Problem Solving &
Design Analysis Phase we have assumed that the
undesirable incident has not occurred. So as an example, we can
do retrofits to prevent a failure and/or an accident from
incidents cited on the web pages herein, are primarily in
high-profile areas and include specific types of facilities.
These facilities include, but are not limited to: water and
wastewater treatment plants; nuclear power plants; nuclear fuel
cycle facilities; facilities with health & safety issues;
radiation exposure; et cetera.
Please note: Dr. Miholits is not limited to only working in
high-profile areas. He specifies this area for two reasons: (1)
he has the expertise to deal effectively with high-profile
areas; and (2) he has the broad-based abilities to cover many
other engineering and science areas which are out of his stated
area of specialty.
high-profile specialty areas are defined on this web page.
defines a High-Profile Engineering Project as one that is
generally more risky or perilous than others. Such an example is a civil
engineering structure such as the Raised Concrete Highway
in Oakland, CA which collapsed during the 1989 San Francisco earthquake.
Therefore, risky engineering areas include: civil; environmental;
nuclear fuel cycle; health & safety; radiation protection; et cetera.
Consequently, these project areas may have a significant litigation risk
potential. The kinds of risks include:
incident may result in health, medical, safety, injury, death and
other problems for Humans and other members of the
Plant and Animal Kingdom. These health and medical
problems may be short term or long-term.
incident may result in a significant loss in manufacturing
facilities or other real estate, as well as money,
incident may result in social, political and/or esthetic situations
incident may result in significant regulatory violations to develop,
incident may result in significant legal actions to be taken.
Based on Dr.
Miholits' experience, he believes that these types of High-Profile
Engineering Projects may have a significantly high probability of
engineering projects (e.g., construction of bridges, chemical
Hazardous waste activities (e.g., sanitary, industrial, hazardous,
toxic and medical wastes; landfill sites, etc.),
and safety activities (e.g., OSHA), and
fuel cycle engineering projects (e.g., uranium enrichment, nuclear
fuel reprocessing plants, decontamination of nuclear power plants,
nuclear waste repositories, nuclear waste transport, spent fuel
storage, radioactive waste, etc.); and related projects.
believes that the following items are applicable to the cited types of
High-Profile Engineering Projects.
projects may have a higher probability of proceeding to the Legal
Phase than other project types.
projects suggest that the qualifications of the consultant be
appropriate for the special characteristics of these projects. As an
example, nuclear projects require special education and unique
regard, Dr. Miholits has three degrees in civil engineering from two
top-ten universities (i.e., Northwestern University and the
University of Texas at Austin). He has over 25 years of experience in the
above cited engineering areas. In his situation, his experience in
these high-profile areas began in 1965. This was supplemented by:
(1) his teaching and research experience; and (2) his emphasis on
engaging in Problem Solving University-Type Paper Studies.
When all of these factors are combined, Dr. Miholits developed the
necessary attributes to be effective in the area of engineering
consulting and subsequent inputs to the Legal Process.
Please see other sections of this web-site for supporting
On this page, Dr. Miholits demonstrates how he can apply his
strong engineering skills and experience
That is, analyze a failure and/or accident for the legal
profession in the role of Expert Witness. To do this, Dr.
Miholits has set up an engineering consulting activity to
illustrate Dr. Miholits' experience in creating designs that
should not fail or have an accident. He believes that this
experience is necessary to make a person effective as an
The rationale for this opinion is based on his experience on
the WIPP defense nuclear waste repository and
the Comanche Creek Nuclear Power Plant. The
Expert Witness Services
in many engineering areas such as, civil, environmental,
nuclear, et cetera. To do this, a brief discussion is
presented on Dr. Miholits' role, as it applies to potential
failures and accidents that might occur at two large nuclear
& Comanche Creek).
facility design was critically analyzed by Dr. Miholits and
his staff prior to the start of the construction phase to
ensure that no failures or accidents occurred during the
construction and operational phases. The Comanche Creek
Nuclear Power Plant was analyzed solely by him via a
Both of these
are very relevant to
Expert Witness Consulting
for the reasons listed below:
engineer who is exposed to good designs tends to
recognize good, as well as potentially flawed designs
and/or design weaknesses at other facilities. WIPP
was a lesson in how to design well and prevent
downstream failures. Please see his Curriculum
Vitae via the hyperlink
engineer who is then exposed to marginal designs should
now be able to quickly identify what may become a
potential failure scenario.
- The key
to all of this is that a person can enhance their
Expert Witness skills by first or simultaneously
working on design projects that create good designs and
have a minimal number of failures and/or accidents.
WIPP and the Comanche Nuclear Power Plant
were chosen as examples because there was a
significantly higher potential that failures and/or
accidents could occur at these facilities. And the
failures could have monumental consequences and lead to
big litigation problems.
Failure Modes & Effects Analysis
was appropriate for the design phase of the
nuclear waste repository, and
was appropriate for the
Comanche Creek Nuclear Power Plant.
projects served as good projects for Dr. Miholits to
skills because he went through similar steps that one
goes through to prevent a failure, as one goes though to
find the cause of a failure.
Miholits' responsibility on both projects was to
provide the assurance that the designs would not
result in failures and/or accidents that could
result in injuries, death, financial and other
losses that could lead to litigation.
was done on WIPP by providing the
assurance that there was a strict adherence to
regulations, design codes, backup systems, etc.
the other hand, Comanche Creek was
more vulnerable on this issue because the overall
design and construction period lasted about 20
years. During this period there were many changes in
design criteria, codes and standards, social,
political and environmental influence, regulatory
changes, legal case history, et cetera.
Miholits' believes that his extensive exposure to good
enhanced his ability to develop an effective
Two-Way Analytical Thinking Process. That is,
from the design side he can see how the pieces fit
together correctly so there will be no failures. Then
from the operational phase, he can quickly see what
caused the failure. Because he is good at analytical
two-way thinking processes, Dr. Miholits thought it
appropriate to insert a picture of the
below his photograph.
Two-Way Analysis Thinking Process
skill is extremely valuable and effective in developing
failure/accident scenarios. To do this in the real
world, two things must happen, (1) an engineer needs to
work in the design world; and (2) he needs to possess an
effective two-way analytical thinking process.
two examples illustrate that the thinking process for:
(1) a failure analysis study; and (2) a design audit on
newly designed facilities (before construction) is
similar to the thinking process that could be used in
the reverse direction. That is, after a failure or
accident has occurred, the engineer must use reverse
engineering to find the cause of the failure and/or
accident for the legal profession. Dr. Miholits can do
this kind of analytical two-way thinking and analysis
(i.e., reverse engineering).
- For experience details
please see Dr. Miholits' Curriculum Vitae. Please click
WIPP - A DEFENSE NUCLEAR WASTE REPOSITORY
Dr. Miholits Performed Expert Witness Tasks (i.e. a Failure Modes and Effects Analysis
on the WIPP Design)
for the development of a Failure Modes & Effects
Analysis (FMEA) methodology to be used
to evaluate the design of a defense nuclear waste repository
2,150 feet below the surface of the earth in a bedded salt
deposit in Carlsbad, New Mexico. See sketch below.
This FMEA methodology is also
known as an Fault Tree Analysis, Event Tree Analysis,
Decision Tree Analysis, Probabilistic Risk Analysis, et
was done to ensure that the above-ground, shaft and
below-ground systems were safe for the workers during the
construction and operation phases.
WIPP project had a FMEA (Failure Modes
and Effects Analysis) performed after the design was
almost completed, but before the start of construction. A
forward and backward analysis was done of the design to
ensure that potential failures were identified and
ultimately determine if re-engineering was necessary. As a
result of this exercise, the process allowed Dr. Miholits to
get Expert Witness experience and credentials
because he analyzed the design for potential failures and/or
of the design was evaluated to ensure that a failure will
not occur. To do this, the engineering team had to identify
each designed system that could fail and the effect of the
failure. This information provided the team leader (Dr.
Miholits) with information to deal with the reverse
situation. That is, a situation where the failure already
occurred and in this role he would provide assistance to the
built his credibility by analyzing designs and solving
design problems to ensure that failures do not occur. His
skill in developing failure scenarios is drawn from being
successful in the design direction. If one knows what went
into the design, one knows the strengths and weaknesses of
the design. This skill makes reverse engineering easy and
makes him very suited to help the legal profession.
presented herein is simply that an engineer who has the
skills to analyze designs and solve design problems to
ensure that failures do not occur will be equally as
effective identifying and developing the accident and/or
failure scenarios for the legal profession. Dr. Miholits has
information and photos, please click on:
☺ ☻ ☼ ☻ ☺
COMANCHE PEAK NUCLEAR POWER PLANT
Dr. Miholits Performed Expert Witness Analysis (i.e., a Structural Design Audit on
Nuclear Power Reactor Building)
design and regulatory audit was conducted on the reactor building because
there was a 21 year span from the start of design in 1965 to
the time the first unit went on line in 1986.
there were many design changes to go along with regulatory,
design code and environmental changes. Each element of the
design was critically reviewed to ensure that everything was
done correctly and to ensure that nothing would surface that
would result in downstream litigation because of a failure
or accident related to the big time period and other
factors. The design audit provided this assurance.
Comanche Creek Nuclear Power Plant required a design
audit because the design was spread over a time period
approaching 20 years. As such, it was subject to a changing
set of rules and regulations regarding design standards,
earthquake standards, nuclear regulations, enhanced design
analysis knowledge, etc. This audit looked at all of these
features forward and backwards. In effect the design that
was audited was shown to be free of defects. It should not
result in any failures. To ensure this, all forms of reverse
engineering was done to simulate an accident/failure. None
was identified therefore, re-engineering was not necessary.
This process gave me another opportunity to gain additional
Expert Witness experience and credentials
because through this audit process, failures and/or
accidents were analyzed.
Expert Witness standpoint, this design review
also identified all of the design elements that could fail.
Therefore it provided the team leader (Dr. Miholits) with
information to permit him to do reverse engineering in the
event of a failure.
same argument is used as was used for WIPP.
That is, an engineer who has the skills to analyze designs
and solve design problems to ensure that failures do not
occur will be equally as effective identifying and
developing the accident and/or failure scenarios for the
legal profession. Dr. Miholits has these skills.
of Expert Witness Page —
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