December 21, 2012

Top 10 Legal Expert Witness Articles of 2012

December 21, 2012
As 2012 comes to a close, we looked back to see which of our blog posts were most read this year. Here is our “Top 10 Most Read List of 2012:”

Our blog has a diverse readership, with readers from France, China, the Phillippines, Canada, United Kingdom, Poland, Germany, Ukraine , India, and of course, the US. Several topics were of universal interest: Expert Witness Management, Hiring Chemistry and Engineering Experts, M&A Due Diligence, and the role of chemistry in pharmaceutical and cosmetic products.

We hope our posts have been informative and interesting to you.  What types of topics would you like to see us post about in 2013?

Happy Holidays from The CECON Group!


December 3, 2012

Computers on Fire: Obscure Technical Expertise Helps in Popular Electronics Case

From the CECON Case Files  (#4505)

Situation:   A class action suit was brought against the manufacturer of laptop computer equipment accused of failing and causing residential fires.

Type of Expert Selected.  Heat-transfer expert.  The expert disassembled and examined failed and new equipment, reviewed the manufacturer's designs and procedures for manufacturing and quality control, and advised the plaintiffs' attorney.

Outcome:  Parties settled through mediation.

Of Note:   This case was initially labeled a premature computer part failure and the initial request was for an electrical engineer with consumer class action experience. Conversations with the CECON Project Manager led to the selection of an electrical engineer specializing in heat transfer.   The expertise needed to win a case is not always apparent on first inspection;  our technically trained Project Managers can add insight in selecting the right expert for a case.

Technology Background:  A few years ago, several manufacturers recalled laptops or their batteries after overheating was implicated in various injuries and fires. Read about the recalls in this PC World Article.

Some common sense safety tips for preventing overheating / fire can be found here. For more information on battery technology, see our previous blog posts; or view our battery experts here.

The CECON Group has been providing expert witnesses to attorneys since 1985. Our business model is unique in that our Project Managers are experienced chemists and engineers who can use their expertise in helping identify the right expert for a case

November 16, 2012

FDA Scrutiny of Medical Device Firms' Quality Systems Continues

This week I attended a review of recent FDA activities presented by the law firm Pepper Hamilton.  It was an interesting presentation, and while several topics were discussed, one that caught my attention  was the continued concerns for quality system deficiencies, especially for medical device manufacturers.

In 2011, 70% of FDA warning letters sent to medical device firms were for quality system deficiencies, with the most common related to Corrective and Preventive Action (CAPA) requirements.  Consistent themes included CAPA procedures that were lacking or inadequate, the lack of verification/validation of CAPAs,  and the inadequate implementation of CAPAs.   Inadequate CAPA procedures included:
  1. Failure to analyze all sources of quality data (e.g., complaints, adverse events, non-conformances, or deviations) with appropriate statistical methods to detect quality problems;
  2. Failure to initiate CAPAs in response to possible quality problems, and
  3. Inadequate documentation of CAPAs. 
Similar trends are recurring for 2012.

Much of my career has been spent in a manufacturing environment (not in medical devices), and these types of quality issues have been around for more than 30 years.  While good quality systems can be expensive to implement, the ultimate savings, good customer will, and improved plant (and company) culture they provide can be eye-opening.  These programs usually also require a culture change throughout the organization (not just in manufacturing), and they must be driven from top management to be effective.  Perhaps these commitments are why quality system efficiencies still exist today? 

The author of this blog, Mike Fisher, is the President of The CECON Group, Inc.  and has a background in engineering, marketing, and strategic planning.


November 1, 2012

Punkin Chunkin: Where Your Engineering Experts Go for Fun

Can’t find your mechanical engineering expert witnesses this weekend?   Maybe they’re in Delaware.

Sure, people spend four years in college and maybe more in graduate school to get engineering degrees so they can work, teach, consult, and maybe even utilize their training and expertise to become expert witnesses. But, what do they do for fun? 

They may spend their time designing a machine to propel an 8-10 pound pumpkin as far as possible.  If so, they will be in southern Delaware this weekend for the 27th annual World Punkin Chunkin Championship.

In case you have not heard of this event, what began as four men devising a method to propel a pumpkin 126 feet in 1986 has now grown to a weekend event with nearly 100,000 visitors and 115 competing teams from across the U.S.  While there is no prize money awarded, the bragging rights have provided enough incentive to elevate the engineering required to compete and win.

There are now several levels of competition, with the adult category having seven categories of propulsion: (compressed) air, centrifugal, catapult, trebuchet, human power, human power centrifugal, and torsion catapult. These categories are ripe for engineers - and any person with a technical bent – to provide creativity and ingenuity (including the use of components such as garage door springs and clotheslines).

However, all machines must meet required safety standards, and all pressure vessels must meet A.S.M.E.  (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) construction codes, have the manufacturer’s nameplate, and be inspected by the Delaware Division of Boilers. The engineering and sophistication of these devices has produced the current world record of 4,483.51 feet (air category).  

For more information on this unique tradition, check your local Science Channel or On-Demand Listings. The event website can be found here.

Interesting details about the event can be found here.

October 25, 2012

How Will The Nobel Prize in Chemistry Touch You?

Two American scientists are the recipients of the 2012 Nobel Prize in chemistry for their work in identifying the cell and DNA structure in the human body that allows cells to react to external stimuli.

The science behind their discoveries is fascinating: sensors on each sell’s surface, called receptors, transmit information about external stimuli through the cell wall, triggering a chain reaction inside the cell that changes the way the cell behaves.   About half of today’s pharmaceuticals are effective due to their manipulation of this chain reaction inside cells.


So, how does having more information about how these receptors work affect the average person?

The biggest benefit to pharmaceutical researchers is knowledge that will guide them in more directed research. A good portion of pharmaceutical research is trial and error. The scientists involved don’t often know why a certain drug affects the human body a certain way, they just know that it does. Informed research is bound to be more focused and effective, so this discovery may lead to an increase in the number of new drugs brought to market in a shorter time.

With a better understanding of this bio-human technology, scientists would be in a better position to find chemicals to directly affect specific body systems. An interesting hypothetical application could be engineered improvements in sensory perception – finding and delivering chemicals that could magnify hearing or visual acuity.

Is there any downside to having knowledge on how to manipulate human cell behavior?  Some may argue that the technology could be used for harm in the wrong hands.

For more information on this technology, click here.

October 18, 2012

Smoke Detectors: Which Type is Best? The Science Behind the Technology

Recently there has been a debate regarding the effectiveness of different types of household smoke alarms. Many common residential smoke alarms look similar on the outside but employ very different technology inside to detect smoke particulates and the by-products of combustion. Knowing the best choice for your home will ensure an alarm sounds, without delay.

The technology in question involves the two most commonly available smoke alarm types: Ionization and Photoelectric.

During combustion, microscopic particles and aerosols are produced. The ionization detector uses a tiny amount of radioactive material, usually americium, to ionize air molecules as they enter a chamber within the detector. The chamber contains positive and negative electrodes through which a small, constant electric current flows. When these invisible by-products of combustion enter the chamber, they become ionized and attach themselves to the electrodes altering the flow of electrical current and triggering the alarm to sound. Some would say that this detects ions not smoke; that’s true.

The photoelectric detector contains a chamber equipped with a light source and a photocell receiver. There are several types of photoelectric detectors.

October 11, 2012

Tips for Selecting and Managing Consultants

Many articles have been written giving advice on hiring consultants. The article below highlights some questions you should ask yourself to help define a project prior to interviewing candidates and offers some good questions to ask your candidates.

            Click Here to read the article

The CECON Group, Inc. provides science and engineering consultants and technical expert witnesses to corporations, small businesses, and attorneys.


October 4, 2012

Do You Disclose Case Docs to Potential Experts?

I recently gave a CLE course at the Philadelphia Law Library on Ethical Practices for Hiring and Managing Expert Witnesses.  One of the topics discussed was whether or not one provides case documents to an expert witness candidate before hiring, which sparked an interesting discussion.

A significant percent of CECON’s clients are law firms requiring technical experts.   While our non-legal clients do a good job in screening candidate consultants before they decide to engage them, I think it’s fair to say that our legal clients typically spend more time and diligence in vetting their potential expert witnesses. 
During an interview, the perfunctory details of the case and the parties are disclosed, with potential conflicts being explored.  The interviewing lawyer also probes for how the expert sees the case, hoping to get a sense if the expert is aligned with the arguments the lawyer is preparing. 

Once the lawyer feels s/he has found a qualified candidate, we see two paths that our clients can take:
A) Proceed with more verbal discussions of the case and make a decision then on engagement, or
B) Decide to send the candidate some files from the case (under a non-disclosure agreement) to provide more insight and let the candidate make a more informed preliminary opinion.  
Which path is “correct” or preferred raised a fair number of comments and insights into attorneys' methodologies and experience.

One group preferred Path A, which is certainly the cleaner and less risky approach, since no confidential information is released.  For them there would never be enough reason to disclose any confidential information before engaging the expert. 

Those preferring Path B stated that, in some cases (e.g. pharmaceutical), there is so much technical information to consider that a candidate cannot do justice even to form a preliminary opinion without better understanding some of the facts.  Path B burdens the lawyer with what information to send, since it would be impractical to send it all (and an unfair request of the expert’s uncompensated time), and it must be representative and balanced.  Path B may also be taken if the lawyer is not familiar or knowledgeable with all of the potential technical nuances of the case.     
Which path do you typically choose, and do you ever see Path B as a possibility?    

The author, Mike Fisher, is President of the CECON Group, a science and engineering consulting firm. 


September 28, 2012

IP Protection Tested in International Markets

An article in the September 17, 2012 issue of Chemical & Engineering News discusses how Landmark drug patent protection cases involving Bayer, Roche, and Novartis are advancing in India this month. Together, they will help determine how friendly the country is to Western pharmaceutical makers.”
“Although each case involves its own complex scientific and legal circumstances, drug makers and patient activists are watching the disputes for the tone they collectively will set about intellectual property protection in India. Some observers see India as a model for the developing world.” (Click here to read full article).

As emerging countries seek to expand into new technologies to spur economic development, there are an increasing number of lawsuits involving patent infringement and trade secret protection. Large pharma companies not only want to protect their potential for revenue generation, they also seek to ensure a level of patent profitability to maintain eligibility for grants from health agencies to fund research for new medicines. The counter argument is that public health considerations are addressed when new medicines are allowed to either enter or be manufactured in developing countries.

What side of the argument do you favor?


September 21, 2012

Why Should You Engage the Services of a Consultant?

You may not need a consultant. Yes, indeed. That’s possible. If you are certain that you have no problems at all – in Personnel, Manufacturing, R & D, Marketing, Sales, Finance, and so on – and that you have “maximized profits” such that it is impossible to earn more profit for your company, then you don’t need a consultant. Why spend the money when you are perfect already?

If that situation exists, then you are in an elite group of executives. It is so elite that you are the first member.

However, if you have any problems, like the ten, or fifty or one hundred problems that your competitors have, then you may think about engaging the services of a consultant. I didn’t say hiring; I said engaging the services.

A long time ago a very good boss of mine, while reflecting in a leisure moment, said, “You know, if you never get sick, and you never have a legal problem, and you happen to find an oil well in your back yard, you can live an easy and comfortable life. If that situation does not exist, then you have to adapt.” That can be extended to business. Just as a person may occasionally need the services of a doctor or a lawyer, a business may need the services of a consultant.

There are many executives who have consultants on a regular basis for checkups, just as persons go to their doctors for regular checkups.

Let’s look at the advantages of hiring a consultant:

1-      The consultant provides a fresh and unbiased look at the situation. Sometimes the executive is “too close to the forest to see the trees”. The executive doesn’t have to admit that publicly. He or she simply has to be aware of it.

2-      The consultant provides a service and can be utilized as defined in the contract. Such contracts usually have a clause that states that “…either party can cease this contract before completion of the objectives with X days notice.”

3-      The executive does not withhold employment taxes as in the case of an employee.

4-      The executive usually does not pay insurance for the consultant.

5-      The executive does not contribute to the pension plan of the consultant.

6-      The consultant concentrates all of his or her time on the project assignment. There is no dilution of effort or distraction from the project as happens by design with regular employees who have various other responsibilities and priorities. A primary advantage of a consultant is concentrated effort.

7-      The consultant usually brings some specialized knowledge to a project - for example, FDA regulations as they apply to a particular drug type for a pharmaceutical firm, or some analogous knowledge in engineering, banking, etc.
When a typical ROI (Return on Investment) calculation is performed, comparing the potential profits gained from the consulting project to the cost involved, that number – expressed either as a ratio or as a percent figure – is a pleasant surprise to the executive.

When the cost figures are computed and realized to be favorable, the executive can then concentrate on the consultant bringing an unbiased look, undiluted effort, and specialized knowledge to solve a problem.

Consider the following example:

The Mayor of a city hired a consultant to determine how the life of the bridge into the city could be extended. The bridge was 50 years old and thousands of cars traveled over it every day. A new bridge would cost millions of dollars.

The consultant examined the engineering drawings and observed the traffic over the bridge for several days. At the end of that time, the consultant submitted a report that contained a picture of one of the support beams of the bridge. A bolt was drawn on the picture as was an arrow pointing to the bolt. Nothing had to be torn down and new structures built. Only one bolt was needed in an existing structure. Submitted at the same time was the consultant’s invoice for $50,000.

The mayor, although pleased with the report, exclaimed, “$50,000 for one bolt!” I need a more detailed invoice than this. Please check your figures and resubmit the invoice.

The consultant did just that and submitted the following invoice.

City Bridge Project
Bolt ……………………………………....$10.00
Knowing where to place the bolt  …… .$49,990.00

Enough said.

 The author has 35 years experience in the Pharmaceutical, Pharma Consulting, and Pharmaceutical Packaging industries with extensive experience in the areas of Laboratory Management and Food and Drug Administration Regulations.

He likes to explore and instruct "the business end of science" as detailed in his books, Effective Financial Tools for Scientific Managers and most recently The Executive MBA for Engineers and Scientists, both published by CRC press. Details on both books can be found here.


September 13, 2012

Patent Infringement and Trade Secret Violations: When Does Application of an Insider’s Industrial Knowledge Cross the Line?

In the wake of a US court injunction on Kevlar rival Hepacron (read summary of issues here), some may have questions about what activities constitute patent infringement or trade secret violation.

We interviewed Dr. Stanley Tocker, CECON Project Manager about this topic.

What is the difference between a patent and a trade secret?
A patent is a registered invention, protected by the US Patent and Trademark office for 17 years from the issue date or 20 years from the filing date, depending on the application date.  A trade secret is a company’s proprietary process or technology, which is not disclosed to others and often protected by a confidentiality agreement with employees.

What constitutes a violation of each?
A patent is considered infringed upon if technology that is detailed in the patent claims is used without the patent holder’s permission.  A trade secret violation occurs when an ex-employee of a company reveals details about a company’s systems and processes that are considered to be proprietary.

How can companies and consultants check to see if a technology is under patent protection?
By doing a patent search through the US Patent and Trademark office. This can be difficult, time consuming, and expensive, but it is vitally important that it is done before incurring major expenses.  This search should be done by someone with a technical background related to the technology in question. A new technology may be anticipated in an old existing patent and knowledge of technical terms and processes may be needed to recognize this. Intellectual property or patent analysis experts can help with this process.

What if a technology is considered “common practice” in a field and a company or consultant is unaware of a patent protection? Before proceeding with a new product or technology, one has to be completely certain that the process designs and compositions  are not patented as well as do thorough technical due diligence. Ignorance of a patent is not a defense against patent infringement.

In the Kevlar case, the scientist accused of revealing trade secrets was sentenced to prison. Does this happen often?
Rarely – often cases don’t make it to trial.

You knew the inventor of Kevlar, Stephanie Kwolek, personally when you both worked at DuPont. Can you share a little bit about her?
I remember her as a remarkable person who was always willing to help her fellow researchers. She was one of very few female researchers working at the Experimental Station in the 1950s and 1960s and was a trailblazer for other female chemists.  Think of how many lives she has saved through her invention!

Read more about the DuPont v. Kolon Industries Inc case here.

The CECON Group, Inc, specializes in placing experts with many years of industry experience in science and engineering fields in consulting and expert witness jobs. Discerning whether technical information is protected by a current patent is a frequent consulting request.

September 6, 2012

Concussions: New Research, Awareness, and State Laws

There have been several studies conducted recently on the long and short term effects of concussions (see “Why Concussions Affect People Differently”) and breakthroughs found in treatments of concussions (see “Progesterone Seems to Protect Neurons After Injury”). This week, the National Football League (NFL) announced it is partnering with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the US military to raise awareness of the effects of brain injuries and channel funds for further research. The NFL has pledged $30 million for medical research to the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health for research on brain injuries and their long term impact. (Read the article in the Huffington Post)

Increased public awareness about the effects of concussions may help athletes, parents, coaches, injured soldiers, and car accident victims recognize the warning signs of a concussion and seek medical attention.

Several states have passed concussion laws in the past two years. Click here for a round-up by state.

The CECON Group provides science, engineering, and technology consultants to law firms and businesses on a short and long term basis.

August 29, 2012

ESI Management- Another Criteria for Expert Witness Selection

While you were probably already concerned about how your consultants and expert witnesses store and manage any electronically stored information (ESI) that is transmitted by you concerning your cases, now you have even more incentive.  In August 2012, the American Bar Association approved recommendations put forth from its commission on Ethics 20/20 that was formed a few years ago.  Recommendation 105A dealt with lawyers’ responsibility to reasonably safeguard their clients’ ESI.  While this was already a practice by many lawyers, this recent ruling addressed language to affirm and clarify this responsibility (although the definition of “reasonable” will be debated).  

How does this affect your handling of consultants/ expert witnesses?  An existing rule of professional conduct, Rule 5.3, states that when sharing information outside of the firm and to a non-lawyer, the lawyer should take reasonable assurance that the person’s conduct should be compatible with the professional obligations of the lawyer.  This existing rule, along with 105A, places more responsibility on lawyers and their expert witnesses to manage their ESI.

How candidate experts manage your documents may have been asked during your interview process, but going forward you may want to ensure this is a routine question – and yet another metric when sizing them up for the job.  Do they store client data on a PC, I-Pad, or thumb drive?  What happens if they lose that device?  Is the data encrypted or password protected?  Make sure they have answers.

The author,  Michael Fisher, is the President of The CECON Group and recently taught a course at the Jenkins Law Library in Philadelphia  entitled “Best Ethical Practices for Hiring and Managing Expert Witnesses.”  

August 16, 2012

Reflections of an Expert Witness

Dr. Stanley Tocker, who has testified in over 25 legal cases as a consultant and expert witness, recently shared some insight into his experiences as an expert witness.

Q: What makes a good expert witness?
Tocker: First, you must know your subject, especially the par­ticular area involved in the case in which you are testifying. Then, you must be able to document your expertise, through academic credentials and/or in-depth experience. Finally, you must look and sound as if you know your stuff.

Q: Why are expert witnesses needed?
Tocker: Prevailing in technical law cases often depends almost as much on the quality of experts as on the skill of attorneys. By quality I mean not only knowledge and credibility but also such factors as stage presence, creativity and self-control in court appearances.

Q: Why are an expert witness's qualifications so important?
Tocker: Opposing counsel can challenge your qualifications as an expert witness, in order to reduce the impact of your report and testimony. This challenge can range from probing questions - intended to embarrass you or throw you off your stride - to questions about your school grades, your licenses, your moral standing,  or your other witness work. You can't get impa­tient - sometimes you have to have a thick skin.

Q: Can you give us a personal experience about this?
Tocker: Recently I sat through a five-hour deposition while five attorneys were trying to disparage my credibility and testi­mony. The first 90 minutes were a tedious review of my back­ground, as well as irrelevant personal questions which were clearly an attempt to show that I was a "hired gun" who could not be trusted. Later they asked many questions related to the substance of the case in many different ways, to attempt to discover a contradiction.

Q: Should you agree to be an expert witness in every case?
Tocker: No - only in those cases in which, in good conscience, you can testify honestly and objectively. You should ask the attorney who retained you for all information he or she has about the case – both positive and negative – to make an informed decision about whether to testify. You should think of yourself as a teacher instead of an advocate for the party that retained you.

August 9, 2012

What Do You Do When Your Expert’s Opinion Disagrees with Your Trial Strategy?

A Federal Court judge warned Samsung on Wednesday to rethink its allegation that Apple improperly influenced its expert witnesses when Apple called a meeting to discuss changes in the expert’s report. (Apple lawyers pointed out what appeared to be a typographical error in the report, contends the expert. The complete story can be found here.)

In this case, expert tampering may not be an issue. But experts may often face pressure to amend their reports and this can present an ethical dilemma.

A client attorney may have an “answer” or prepared defense that he or she is hoping the expert opinion will  support. However, it is important for an expert to maintain independence and render an opinion without influence from the client. The expert’s testimony also has to stand up to cross examination in a trial or deposition, so the expert is obligated to render an independent opinion based on his or her expertise, regardless of the client’s trial strategy.

So, what happens when the hired expert reaches a different conclusion than the client had hoped for when hiring him/her?

Often, this means more work needs to be done. If the attorney’s theory does not hold up with his own expert, it most likely will not hold up in court. Modifying trial strategy may seem like a daunting task, especially if the trial date is looming.

Additional research or obtaining corroborating expert opinions can be costly and time consuming. In an ideal situation, information provided by the expert may lead to a minor re-tweaking of trial strategy or a subtle difference in approach only.

How do you handle an expert opinion that does not fit your strategy?

The CECON Group has been providing science and engineering expert witnesses to attorneys since 1985.

August 3, 2012

Best Ethical Practices for Hiring and Managing Expert Witnesses

Locating the RIGHT expert witness with the substantive knowledge, personality, and skills to work on your case can feel like a daunting task.

Once retained, questions often arise surrounding the scope of the assignment, duties regarding confidentiality and propriety information, fees, and other ethical concerns.

On August 15th, learn how to anticipate and address these issues while preparing your case.

Please join CECON President Mike Fisher on Wednesday, August 15th at 5:30 p.m. at the Jenkins Law Library in Philadelphia as he shares “Best Ethical Practices for Hiring and Managing Expert Witnesses.”  

Marla Tocker Palmer, J.D. will provide a legal perspective and participate in leading the discussion.

For more information and to register for this program, please click here:

Michael Fisher is President of The CECON Group, which manages a network of 1200 science and engineering consultants and has been providing expert witnesses to the legal community since 1985. Mr. Fisher has over 30 years of experience with large corporations and early-stage companies. He was formerly with Cabot Corporation, where he led sales, marketing and strategic planning for a $350 million division. Before Cabot, Mr. Fisher was with DuPont for several years in various engineering, marketing, and management positions. Mr. Fisher has a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon and an M.B.A. from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

 Marla Tocker Palmer, Esq. is a board member of The CECON Group.  She has over 20 years of legal experience in a variety of areas including insurance defense litigation, medical malpractice defense, personal injury defense, commercial litigation and, most recently, patent litigation and patent prosecution.  Ms. Palmer has a B.A. in Communications from Goucher College, a J.D. from Temple University School of Law and an M.S. in Biotechnology from The Johns Hopkins University.  Ms. Palmer is a member of the Delaware bar and is admitted to practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

July 30, 2012

Consultants Help Improve Olympic Athletes’ Performance

Olympic athletes take our breath away as we wonder how they can swim that fast, jump that far, or navigate that balance beam so effortlessly.

Do you ever wonder how they do that?

Athletes train to maximize performance, using techniques that have proven effective over time. Increasingly, however, athletes are consulting with engineers and using advanced technology to help improve their performance.

Click here to learn about the science and engineering employed by Olympic athletes in various events. The clip entitled "Maximizing the Long Jump of Brian Clay" shows the technology and engineering consultants one athlete's sponsor provided to help fine tune the physics and angles of his jumps.

Will these consultants and their high tech techniques make the Olympics attainable for more people?

July 19, 2012

Software and Apps that Can Help Organize Case Files on Your Phone, Tablet, or Computer

Gone are the days of lugging heavy briefcases full of files and case notes to court, depositions, and client meetings. Technology has made it possible to organize data via apps and software on your easily portable electronic devices.

But which app or program is the right one for you? We have compiled a few articles that compare and contrast some of the available options. (Note – we have not tested these apps and do not endorse any of them).

Using Evernote to Manage your Case Files
TrialPad for iPad
iPad Apps for Lawyers & Law Firms
The 8 Most Essential Free iPad Apps for Attorneys
Five Great Free Android Apps for Attorneys
Trial Director Trial Presentation Software
FastCase Legal Research App for Android,iPad,and iPhone
The Case File Case Management System

Do you have an app or program for organizing case files that you would recommend? Have you used a Technology Consultant  when making software choices?

June 28, 2012

Not in My Backyard: Safety of Bloom Energy Solid Oxide Fuel Cells Questioned

CECON Project Manager Dr. Stanley Tocker was appointed to the Delaware State Coastal Zone Industrial Control Board by Governor Markell in 2011. Stan’s role on the committee is to provide a scientist’s perspective on issues that come before the committee. Previously, Stan served for eight years as a member of the Delaware Environmental Control Board.

Last week, a hearing was held on proposed Solid Oxide Fuel Cells to be built in the state of Delaware. The prior approval of this new energy technology was being challenged. Stan’s insights on that hearing are below:

June 21, 2012

Top Ten Mistakes Made When Hiring Consultants

While some businesses and law firms hire consultants and expert witnesses routinely, others look to outside expertise infrequently and may not know what to look for. Mistakes can be costly to your project or case as well as to your company.

The article below offers some good tips, whether you hire consultants once a week or once  a year.

Click here to read more.

The CECON Group specializes in placing consultants and expert witnesses and can guide you through the process of obtaining the specific consulting services you need for your job.

June 14, 2012

It's Summer & Everyone Wants to Work from Home

Managing remote teams, whether they are employees, consultants, or expert witnesses, can be challenging absent a plan for coordinating efforts. Click here to read an article that provides some good tips.

The CECON Group has been placing science and engineering consultants since 1985. Our scientifically trained project managers can help assemble teams of consultants and provide project managers to coordinate the consulting services  on your project.

June 8, 2012

Expert Testimony Survives Daubert Challenge

A CECON food safety expert shares his experience of having his testimony successfully survive a Daubert challenge. A circuit court had ruled his testimony inadmissible, but on appeal this decision was reversed and his testimony was allowed.

Because the food safety expert sufficiently connected the proposed testimony with the facts of the case and because the food safety expert's extensive background in food safety circumstantially suggests he used a valid methodology in drawing his conclusions, his testimony survived the challenge.

Simply put, the Appeals Court believed that the food safety expert's opinion should be admissible because he explained precisely how the conclusions were reached and pointed to an objective source to show that his conclusions were based on a scientific method used by at least a minority of scientists in the field. The Appeals Court believed that the conflict between the positions taken by the parties regarding the food safety expert's conclusions did not render his testimony unreliable, but instead created a jury issue regarding the weight to be given to the testimony. Accordingly, the Appeals Court found that the circuit court erred in excluding the food safety expert's testimony.
The case was eventually settled out-of-court.

Details surrounding the decision can be found below.

June 1, 2012

Right Expert Helps Land $500 Million Award

Placement Expert with Scientific Background Instrumental in Selecting Expert

From the CECON Case Files:

Situation:  A generic liquid injectable drug was sold in vials large enough to be used on multiple patients (50 ml vial used for 10ml dosage). The plaintiff developed Hepatitis C following a colonoscopy procedure during which vials were reused and apparently contaminated. Attorneys for the plaintiff complained that the medical clinic did not follow prescribed drug labeling and use procedures. 

Expert Need: Attorney for the plaintiff sought a pharmaceutical consultant. The CECON Project Manager suggested that an expert with a slightly different background would be more appropriate.

Type of Expert Selected:  A former FDA Branch Director and now a consultant and expert on regulatory issues and innovative/generic drug labeling. Expert gave reports and testimony on best practices for use of the drug. 

Outcome:  Judgment was for the plaintiffs, with a $500 Million Punitive Award.

Of Note: Legislation was introduced  in both the Senate and House last month that would permit generic drug companies to update warning information about the drugs they manufacture, a change that could allow patients to sue the companies for failing to warn about the risks of taking their drugs. Click here to read more.

Current FDA regulations require a generic drug’s labeling to be essentially the same as that of the approved drug. Click here to read more.

CECON has over 180 distinguished pharmaceutical consultants with experience in drug discovery and development, documentation, regulatory matters, manufacturing, analysis and business management Pharma consulting is one of CECON’s core specialties.

CECON’s Project Managers are scientists and experts themselves with advanced degrees in technical disciplines and personal experience in various scientific and engineering fields. Their expertise allows them to provide insight regarding the exact expertise needed in different cases or projects.