Damage Control

A front-page article in the July/August 2012 ASFE NewsLog alerted readers to a peer-reviewed paper delivered live as a keynote lecture at GeoCongress 2012, then published in the proceedings. Titled "The State of the Practice in Foundation Engineering on Expansive and Collapsible Soils" and authored by William N. Houston, Ph.D., P.E. and John D. Nelson, Ph.D., P.E., the paper, left as is, could have been a boon for hired-gun experts by virtue of an obviously incorrect definition of the standard of care applicable to professionals, and the findings of research whose origins are questionable and whose currency has long since passed. The only way ASFE could neuter the potential damage was to develop "discussions" - actually, rebuttals - for publication in ASCE's Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering. The Board of Directors assigned the task to ASFE's Geotechnical and Legal Affairs Committees. Dennis Shallenberger, G.E. (Earth Systems Pacific) did the heavy lifting for the Geotechnical Committee. Ji H. Shin, Esq., (Earth Systems, Inc.) and ASFE Consultant Member Michael J. Byrne, Esq., a partner in the Gogick, Byrne & O'Neill, LLP law firm, did likewise for the Legal Affairs Committees. Now, after not just a little sturm und drang, good news: The Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering has said it will publish both discussions, presumably with a commentary from Drs. Houston and Nelson. We'll keep you posted. Let your attorneys know!

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