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in 2021, a wildfire burned more than 10,000 acres in Presley, a small city on the edge of Florida’s Everglades. The fire damaged 86 homes, businesses, and other structures and caused over $40 million in damages. Wildfires require certain environmental conditions to spread, but the initial sparks sometimes come from electrical utility equipment and power lines. An investigation found that the origin of the Presley fire was a transmission tower, where one of the rows of hanging insulators had fallen to the ground. The insulators are designed to protect the tower from the electrical current flowing through the power lines, and they are hung with metal rings, called C-hooks. These C-hooks were manufactured by Seaborne Iron Works, Inc, who claims that the hooks should not wear more than 5 mm over a fifty-year lifespan. In cooperation with the power company, an independent investigator was hired by the city of Presley to collect data on a random sample of the C-hooks at various transmission towers in the area. It was found that several of the hooks were eroding at a faster rate than was promised by the Seaborne Iron Works when the local electric company purchased and installed them in the 1979.
The local utility company has blamed Seaborne Iron Works, Inc. for manufacturing parts that have worn prematurely. Civil litigation against the manufacturer has ensued, and a class-action lawsuit has been brought forth. In a class-action lawsuit, a certified group of individuals – a group called Presley Homeowners, in this case – sues the defendant for financial damages. The judge in this case has requested an impartial expert witness, and you have been brought in as a forensic engineer. Forensic engineers investigate the causes of failure in engineering projects ranging from faulty machinery to collapsed buildings. You will analyze the data you have collected and come to a statistically informed conclusion with a confidence level of 99% on whether the C-hooks used on transmission towers in Presley have passed their recommended wear of 5.0 millimeters.
The data provided by the independent investigator is below. Because it would be infeasible to test every C-hook in the area, eight transmission towers (labeled in the first column) were randomly selected, and the level of wear on the six C-hooks on each tower was measured. Does this sample data suggest that the average C-hook supplied by Seaborne Iron Works has passed 5.0 mm in wear?
You will provide your findings in a memorandum addressed to the judge, Tonye Wasilic, and copied to the defense attorney, Michael Solara, and the plaintiffs’ attorney Amena Hernandez. Remember that you are writing to convince the jury.
While the problem statement above is fictional. However, C-hook failures on a transmission tower were the purported cause Links to an external site.of the 2018 Camp Fire in California. The utility company settled with a bankruptcy court and agreed to pay $1 billion in damages from several fires in the area. Below are photographs of the C-hook installations to give you information on the object you will be writing about.
Figure 1: C-hooks are responsible for holding up insulators on towers, which protect the metal tower from electrical current flowing through the power lines.
Source: Gafni, M. & Peele, T. (2018, December 7). If was originally built in 1919. What failed on PG&E tower at heart of Camp Fire probe? The Mercury News. https://www.mercurynews.com/2018/12/07/it-was-originally-built-in-1919-what-failed-on-pge-tower-at-heart-of-camp-fire-probe/ Links to an external site.
Figure 2: The Broken C-Hook determined to have caused the 2018 Camp Fire
Source: Tube Time (2020, September 16)
https://twitter.com/tubetimeus/status/1306362075044667392 Links to an external site.
Figure 3: A worn C-Hook
Source: Van Derbeken, J (2019, December 7) New images of PG
&E hooks on Camp Fire power line released. NBC Bay Area. https://www.nbcbayarea.com/investigations/new-images-of-pge-hooks-on-camp-fire-power-line-released/2190709/ Links to an external
Review and evaluate the problem presented – Using the tools learned in IDL 3 evaluate the problem: what you know, the significance of what you know to the problem, and what information you have that can be used in a statistical problem. Determine the appropriate hypothesis test to use, given what input you have, the problem, and the statistical tools you have learned. Additionally, determine the appropriate use of the null and alternative hypotheses for the problem. If it helps you can sketch a diagram of the problem.
Complete the calculation – Complete the statistical analysis of the problem. Be clear that you understand all of the processes you have completed to get your answer, you will have to document it.
Develop your document for the assigned audience and purpose – As you will have templates to use with many professional documents you will create, this assignment has a format that you must follow – the Legal Memorandum Template. Download the Legal Memorandum Template.This format includes appearance and content. See the Exemplar Download Exemplarfor a visual guide.
Memorandum Header – This section of the document provides the information a reader needs to know to determine if they need to read the rest of the document. It must be consistent in layout and format so that it is easy to read. This section is graded on your ability to follow directions.
TO – The person you have been asked to address the memorandum to. Follow the exemplar, on paper a judge’s title is ‘Honorable’.
Why? This section and the CC section may be addressed to one or more person(s). The amount of information included for each is dependent on an organization’s level of formality and the role of hierarchy in the organization. National culture may also play a role in these decisions, as some may place greater importance on titles (such as Mr., Dr., or General). The person’s role title is often included, as it will dictate what type of information they need from you. Finally, the location of the addressee can be included, when it also suggests the type of information the document will include. When in doubt, it is better to be more formal and include too much information than to find out it was needed but not included.
CC – Emulate the format of the example. The name of each person being addressed is on a new equally indented line.
FROM – Emulate the format of the example. Use your name, your title is Forensic Engineer
DATE – Use the due date of the assignment format as Month, day, year (i.e June 22, 2022).
RE – For a lawsuit, this will have the suit name and then what it is about relative to the lawsuit.
Question Presented – Present specifically, and concisely the question you are being asked to address. This question must include a technical and legal component.
Brief Answer – Present specifically, and concisely the answer you got from your analysis. This answer must include a technical and legal component. The answer will not have details on your analysis or numeric outcomes.
Facts – This section will present the input you were given by presenting the context, the data and its meaning in the context, and how this input allows you to structure an analysis to determine an answer. It will not proceed into the analysis.
Discussion – This section presents the logic on how you analyzed the problem in language a non-technical audience can understand, starting with the most basic reasoning for the use of this analysis for the problem. This section will end with what you found through your analysis and what it means for the case.
Conclusion – This summarizes the entire document ending with the outcome of your analysis and its meaning to the case.
Appendix – This section is on its own page (use ‘insert/page break). For this section type out the mathematics, you used to calculate an answer in detail, ending with the outcome, what it means for the hypothesis test and the case.
This assignment will be completed as a (modified version) of a legal memorandum as documented by CUNY School of Law. (You should not reference their document, as a full legal memorandum is much more complex than what you will be doing.)
Document Length: Well done documents are generally 3 – 4 pages; 1.5 – 2.5 pages for the main part of the memorandum and 3/4 – 1 page for the appendix. Documents shorter than this are likely not well done.
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