Insurance companies, as well as their inside and outside counsel, often involve us when issues involving materials identification may provide insight into establishing liability. Because of our reputation for high level detailed analyses and unrelenting search for facts, we are almost always able to provide factual, supportable answers to specific questions, which help our clients, whether defense or plaintiff, to make informed decisions about liability and decide if settlement or litigation is the best course.
Assigning liability to product damage can be a complex issue, and a detailed analysis of the materials involved can lead to the establishment of factual information that can assist an investigation. For instance, following a fire, flood, crash, or explosion, questions of product or property spoilage often become relevant. Has a product been compromised and made potentially unsuitable for future use? Microtrace has conducted examinations of materials for soot or mold spores, identified residues and deposits, and examined product to see if its composition has been altered.
Microtrace has worked with plaintiffs and defendants in cases ranging from slip and fall liability, hit and run accidents, and cases of alleged exposure to potentially harmful chemicals. With analyses ranging from the identification of blood stains or other signs of an accident, to quantification of a specific chemical in a product, our analytical approach can be adapted to answer specific and often unusual questions.
The need for confirmation of failure or the determination of failure causation can arise over claims of alleged product failure. Ranging from the identification of sediment in wine to the delamination of printing inks, Microtrace has conducted analyses to clarify the cause of such events. In one instance, Microtrace established the reason why signatures on hundreds of Joe DiMaggio autographed jerseys had started to bleed into the fabric (read more here).
Upon opening a package of frozen spinach, a consumer notices what they believed to be a mouse inside. Our analysis showed that it was a female house mouse with a number of knife cuts to its body. We dissected the rodent and removed its stomach and lungs for microscopical analysis. The stomach consisted almost entirely of partially digested spinach leaves, which were recognized by their microscopic anatomical features and gastric liquid that was almost saturated with chlorophyll from the chloroplasts in the leaves. This left no question that the mouse was filling her stomach with the spinach she was happily gorging herself on when she met her end in the processing line.
When shipments of goods are stolen during transport, the thieves commonly substitute whatever debris is available in order to account for the missing weight of the stolen items. Microtrace has assisted shipping companies and their client’s counsel by locating and/or describing the geographic origin of dirt, sand, soil, bricks, and cement blocks through the analysis of their composition on a particle by particle basis. The reports provided to our clients describe all of the analytical results, photomicrographs, spectra, etc. on which our conclusions were founded. Read more about a case study.