Terri-Jane Yuzda


Discipline Committee Decision

Editor’s Note: Following are the details of an April 30, 2003, APEGGA Discipline Committee decision, arrived at after a panel heard a complaint against a member and a permit-holding company. In this case there are no findings against the member or the permit-holder, so their names and other identifying features have been removed before publication in The PEGG.


The allegations brought by the Investigative Committee before a hearing panel are:

1. That in or about March 1997, the company named in the complaint, Company A, submitted an engineering report on behalf of a client, prepared by the APEGGA professional engineer named in the complaint, Member A, and which report did not meet acceptable engineering standards in that it failed to identify all potential or contributing causes of failure of a piece of equipment, and which factors should have been identified in the report and indicated for further discussion.

2. That the conduct of Member A and Company A in the foregoing respects constitutes unprofessional conduct and a violation of Rules of Conduct #4 and #10 of the APEGGA Code of Ethics.


4. Professional engineers, geologists and geophysicists shall act for their clients or employers as faithful agents or trustees; always acting independently and with fairness and justice to all parties.

10. Professional engineers, geologists and geophysicists shall conduct themselves toward other professional engineers, geologists, and geophysicists, and toward employees and others with fairness and good faith.


The complainant performed a mechanical design of a unit fabricated by a company which he 51 per cent owned – Company B – and supplied to a plant operated by another company, Company C. The design of the unit followed the process design and data prepared by an engineering firm on behalf of Company C.
The unit began its service in August 1996 and failed in January 1997. The failed unit was redesigned and refabricated by the complainant’s company, Company B, and the new unit was back in service by February/March 1997.

As part of the investigation into the initial failure, Company C retained Member A of Company A to review the failure and to recommend repair/restoration procedures for the replacement unit.

The testing and evaluation of the failed unit was performed by Company A and the discussions regarding design/fabrication of the replacement unit included the complainant, Member A, and two other engineers

The panel heard evidence that the mood of the collective meetings between the complainant, Member A and one of the other engineers, rather than being confrontational were in fact co-operative and collegial. The purpose of the meetings was clearly to identify and correct the problem as opposed to a search for culpability.

It is clear that Company B was not singled out for blame for the failure because it participated in the redesign and reconstruction of the unit, and was fully paid for this work by Company C.

A report was prepared by Company A for Company C, dated March 21, 1997. The report was clearly marked “preliminary” on the cover page. The report identified that its purpose was to “determine the failure mechanism(s) and recommend a review/restoration procedure” for the failed unit.

The report identified a cause of the failure and said that original design contributed to failure of some of the unit’s equipment.

At the end of 1997, Company B received notice of a lawsuit from Company C’s insurers. Apparently this lawsuit was against Company C’s wishes.

The complainant sent a letter of complaint March 7, 2000, arguing that Member A’s report expressed opinions outside of Member A’s area of expertise and that those opinions differed from those offered by Member A at previous meetings. Essentially the complaint was caused by the lawsuit launched by the insurers, who were relying upon design criticisms contained in Member A’s report.


The panel concluded that the original meetings between the complainant, Member A and another engineer were held with the sole, mutually agreed purpose of solving the failure of the unit, rebuilding it and getting the process back on line. There appeared to be no intent to find blame on anyone’s part and the process appeared to be very professional and constructive.

The panel believes that Company A’s report was also issued as a constructive document with the clear intent of identifying and solving the problem. The language of the report did not attempt to lay blame and the discussion of design issues was part of the report but not its main focus. The report conclusions did not mention the complainant or Company B by name, and the panel concluded that the criticisms could equally have applied to the firm that designed the process and provided input data used by Company B.

The panel heard evidence from the complainant that his original reaction to the Company A report was positive, and there was no evidence presented that he complained about the report at the time.

Clearly the report was labeled “preliminary,” which would imply that it was not final and was therefore incomplete. The panel heard evidence that Company A completed a thorough investigation of the various failure factors. It may well be that Member A intended to supplement his preliminary report with these findings but was not asked by Company C to complete and issue a final report.

The panel’s opinion is that it was not the conduct of any APEGGA members that was the real cause of dispute leading to the hearing. Instead, the lawsuit brought by Company C’s insurers is the cause of this problem. The insurers, in our view, went on a “fishing expedition,” and in so doing used Member A’s report in a manner for which it was not intended, and also misinterpreted a discussion of design considerations as a direct criticism of the complainant, which we also believe was not Member A’s intention.

The panel therefore does not agree with the charges against Member A and Company A, and does not find them guilty of unprofessional conduct or in violation of rules of conduct #4 and #10 of the APEGGA Code of Ethics.

The panel however does wish to caution Member A that, when preparing future reports of this nature, he should be mindful that:

1) The report should clearly state its scope and purpose, and when a report is marked “preliminary,” the reasons for this notation should be explained together with a description of additional work yet to be completed.

2) Member A should be aware that reports are not always used solely for their intended purpose and that the wording of a report should be carefully presented and qualified in order to avoid potential abuse by third parties.

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