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Forensic Practices

C. B. Goldsmith & Associates, Inc. (CBG&A) follows rules and operating procedures based on the "Recommended Practices for Design Professional Engaged as Experts in the Resolution of Construction Industry Disputes," as published by ICED/ASFE and endorsed by the American Institute of Architects. Commentary regarding our methods of working within this framework are outlined below.

1.  "The expert should avoid conflicts of interest and the appearance of conflicts of interest."

Prior to accepting any project, CBG&A interviews each potential client for possible conflicts of interest. If any of our associates are involved in the matter at issue or if they've ever had a relationship with any of the organizations or individuals involved, we reveal any such relationship to the client and/or clients' attorney to determine whether or not the relationship could be construed as creating (or giving the appearance of creating) conflicts of interest.

CBG&A will not accept compensation, financial or otherwise, from more than one party for services on the same project, or for services pertaining to the same project, unless the circumstances are fully disclosed to, and agreed to, by all interested parties.

2.  "The expert should undertake an engagement only when qualified to do so, and should rely on other qualified parties for assistance in matters that are beyond the expert's area of expertise."

At times, CBG&A is asked to provide forensic consulting work on cases outside our area our expertise. In matters where our experience and knowledge are not enough, we will often bring in other experts or remove ourselves from the case. CBG&A will never accept a project that we are not fully qualified for.

3.  "The expert should consider other practitioners' opinions relative to the principles associated with the matter at issue."

CBG&A is often asked to evaluate reports and opinions from other professionals prior to writing a report. In those situations where our opinion differs, we make every effort to outline those differences and clearly explain why our position should prevail.

4.  "The expert should obtain all available information relative to the events in question in order to minimize reliance on assumptions and should be prepared to explain any assumptions to the trier of fact."

CBG&A strives to collect and review all available documents to identify the services in question and to determine if any restrictions or limitations may have applied. Our in-house library contains over 50 years of historic construction-related documents, including past codes, code-reference standards, industry standards and manufacturer’s literature. As a result, CBG&A has developed a reputation for being extremely thorough when investigating issues of fact, and our obsessive collection of reference documents eliminates the need to make assumptions.

5.  "The expert should evaluate reasonable explanations of causes and effects."

CBG&A has a combined 90+ years experience investigating a variety of construction failures and failure mechanisms. This experience has enabled us to minimize the time necessary to investigate, understand and evaluate each reasonable cause and effect related to the case. When appropriate, we discuss the issues with both manufacturer's representatives and other industry professionals in an effort to study and evaluate different explanations of causes and effects. We will never limit our investigation for the purpose of proving a position advanced by those who have retained us.

6.  "The expert should strive to assure the integrity of tests and investigations conducted as part of the expert's services."

CBG&A assigns projects only to qualified organizations capable of serving as an expert or factual witness with regard to the work they performed.

7.  "The expert witness should testify about professional standards of care only with knowledge of those standards that prevailed at the time in question, based upon reasonable inquiry."

CBG&A has developed a way to quickly research historic codes, product literature, and recognized industry standards that may have been in effect at the time of the building's design and/or construction. In addition to our traditional library, CBG&A maintains a digital library of archived standards, articles, eBooks, and other construction-related documents. Documents filed in our digital library are saved in a searchable format, allowing our team members to research information faster -- saving the client both time and money.  This extensive repository of searchable and indexed documents allows us to make quick determinations of the standard of care prevailing at the time in question.

8.  "The expert witness should use only those illustrative devices or presentations that simplify or clarify an issue."

CBG&A documents building deficiencies and preserves test samples for later use as potential exhibits to be shown to triers of facts. We have proven experience in preparing and assembling exhibits, including photographic documentation, charts, graphs and/or models for our client's use. Our intent in the preparation of all of these tools is to clarify and explain the issues. Illustrative devices or presentations are customized for each project to demonstrate relevant principles without bias.

9.  "The expert should maintain custody and control over whatever materials are entrusted to the expert's care."

CBG&A has an established procedure for the storage, identification and tracking of materials obtained during our investigations to preserve evidence and to ensure an effective "chain of custody" is maintained. In some cases, evidence is placed in environmentally controlled storage facilities.

10.  "The expert should respect confidentiality about an assignment."

By default, CBG&A assumes that all investigation work is confidential and follows the advise of counsel to manage and balance the demands of communication and to respect to the nature and form of those communications.

CBG&A understands the duty of confidentiality and that all matters discussed by and between experts, their clients and/or clients' attorneys are regarded as privileged. We will never reveal facts, data or information obtained in a professional capacity without the prior consent of the client or employer, except as authorized or required by law or professional Codes of Conduct. We will not disclose confidential information concerning the business affairs or technical processes of any present or former client or employer without his consent. 

11.  "The expert should refuse or terminate involvement in an engagement when fee is used in an attempt to compromise the expert's judgment."

CBG&A will never accept a case contingent on a potential outcome.  It is our policy to either refuse or terminate involvement in cases when preferences for outcome start to compromise objectivity.  We will not allow attorneys or other parties to substantially control, write, or otherwise unduly influence our analyses, judgment, reports, opinions, and/or testimony. We will never limit inquiry for the purpose of proving the contentions advanced by the attorneys who have retained us, nor will we write, transmit, adopt, or promote opinions, crafted by others or include legal opinions, under the guise of a professional opinion. CBG&A will only express opinions when they are founded on adequate knowledge of the facts, clear identification of all assumptions made, and a description of all additional information considered to provide an opinion.

12.  "The expert should refuse or terminate involvement in an engagement when the expert is not permitted to perform the investigation that the expert believes is necessary to render an opinion with a reasonable degree of certainty."

CBG&A will never accept or continue with a project if limitations will prevent us from testifying with a reasonable degree of certainty. We believe it is our responsibility as experts to inform the client and/or client's attorney about the scope and nature of the investigation in order to properly investigate the issues so that adequate conclusions can be drawn.

"The expert witness should strive to maintain a professional demeanor and be dispassionate at all times."

We subscribe to the business model that the client must be told the "Truth", only advocate our professional opinion, treat facts with equal conviction, and to never view a case as a competition between experts. In each investigation, it is our goal to maintain a high professional demeanor and focus, particularly when rendering testimony or during cross examination. This mindset is the foundation of a work ethic that has served us well for the last 50 years.

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