A few months ago, Mike Panish was contacted by a defense attorney who retained
his services as
door expert witness to review a claim made against his client. A woman had sustained catastrophic
injuries when a large commercial overhead door dropped unexpectedly on
her head. The defendant was a door service provider and the door installer
for the property where the injury occurred. Mike spoke with the defense
attorney in detail about what his client (defendant) had told him about
the claim. Mike suggested that a site visit be made so he could evaluate
the general conditions of the property, and have a face to face interview
with the defendant. The attorney arranged for the site inspection, and
arranged for Mike to meet with his client after my site visit.
When Mike arrived to inspect the subject doorway he found that it was significantly
different than what was suggested by the defendant. Major components of
the door mechanism had been cobbled together, safety devices had never
been installed, and the installation and weight of the door made safe
usage of this doorway almost impossible. The door had recently been furnished
and installed by the defendant for this specific location. The door appeared
to have been improperly manufactured, incorrectly assembled, and was the
wrong size for the opening.
As is typical during a site inspection, the opposing attorney was also
on site during the inspection. Even to his untrained eye, it was obvious
that there were problems with the product and installation. The plaintiff's
attorney had coincidentally retained Mike on a couple of past cases. He
knew in an instant that his client's case was legitimate and also
knew that Mike was unbiased and honest about his expert opinions. He asked
the attorney that had retained Mike if they could work out a special arrangement
where Mike would provide the information to both sides of the case. The
defense attorney, having had a long term relationship with this man said
he would have to think about it, and he would get back to him in a few days.
As soon as the defense attorney and Mike got into his car, Mike explained
in detail every defect of this installed door product. Mike hoped the
defendant had not actually done the work in the existing condition that
he saw. Mike asked him if it was in some way possible that someone at
the property had done some rework to the doorway, or some untrained workers
had altered the original installation. The defense attorney said, "I
sure hope so, because this is just about the worst workmanship that I
have ever seen, and I have seen some real messes!" Mike was glad
that we had arranged a meeting with his client after this site inspection.
Mike suggested that they not inform his client about his observations
as he just wanted to know what his client knew about this installation.
The attorney agreed, and suggested that Mike conduct the interview with
his client. Mike met the owner of the company, and began to ask questions
that would probably be asked by the opposition in an upcoming deposition.
The responses that he got were genuine, honest, and completely unguarded.
After a few questions, it was apparent to Mike that the owner of this
company (the defendant) was basically incompetent in his job. He told
him how his workman were trained, how he had learned his trade, and the
number of years he had been working in this field. His answers to the
questions basically proved his liability. Everything that he told Mike
made him more and more responsible for the plaintiff's injury. He
had no idea that what he had done was incorrect or that his installers
did not have any skills in their work. He did not even understand the
installation manuals that came with the door, nor did he have a copy of
any other installation materials in his office. This defendant was responsible,
grossly negligent in his duties, and was lucky that he had not been involved
in other lawsuits prior to this one. Mike left the office, had a quick
meeting with the attorney that hired him and suggested that he consult
with his insurance adjuster to make a reasonable settlement before any
further issues were uncovered. The case was settled less than a week later.
ATTORNEYS - GET ALL OF THE FACTS
Every good defense attorney wants to have all of the facts about his or
her case. He or she needs to know the good and bad points, and what strengths
and weaknesses the case contains. When a defense attorney is working directly
through an insurance company as in-house counsel, it has been our experience
that arranged settlements are generally faster and more forthcoming. The
insurance company does not wish to prolong a bad defense, nor do they
benefit from stretching out the claim. When an independent defense attorney
takes a bad case, this can be different. In many cases where Mike has
been retained as the Plaintiff's expert, we have noticed that some
defense attorneys create ridiculous costs for both the plaintiff and the
insurance carrier, when they know that their client is responsible.
Working for both plaintiff and defense evenly, as a truly unbiased expert,
it is always Mike Panish's hope that both parties to a claim will
understand and recognize the information that he provides is not weighted
in one direction or the other. Mike Panish has been retained on many cases
in the Canadian court system where when you provide expert services for
the court one of the basic requirements is that you provide unbiased information
that assists the court. Even though you may be retained by either the
plaintiff or defense, you must behave in a professional, unbiased, and
uncolored manner. Every attorney should appreciate that a true expert
opinion is applicable to both sides, whether you like the expert's
opinion, or not.
Retaining a truly qualified expert should be done early on in every case.
The invaluable assistance that a good expert provides can shed light on
the murkiest issues. Once you find the right expert to help you analyze
your case, you (the defense attorney) will know if the client that you
are representing is responsible for the claim or in need of a vigorous
opposition to that claim.
Mike Panish is one of the most frequently retained experts in his field.
He works evenly for both plaintiff and defense. He is unbiased and provides
a service to his clients that get positive results. Mike Panish is an
expert witness for most construction trades with licenses in General Construction,
Electrical, Cabinetry & Millwork, Doors & Door Hardware, Paint
Click here to link to his expertise.