In this Issue:

Physical Product Testing - Making the Theoretical Real

Cybersecurity Overlooks Largest Threat: Your Own Employees

ATA Implements New Robotic Survey Equipment

This Issue's Toolbox Feature - Products Liability and Testing


ATA recently defended an industrial gate manufacturer at a trial concerning a worker’s fall from an elevated gateway on a chemical plant mezzanine. The plaintiff alleged that the subject accident resulted from a defect in the design of the rolling gate’s track which allowed the track to become misaligned and produce a gate derailment. Misalignment of the track was indeed observed immediately after the accident, but that was more than ten years after the gate and track were first put into service.

The plaintiff alleged that a track alignment pin, which had been added to a later model of the track, would have prevented the accident. The pin’s absence was proffered as evidence that the earlier track design was defective. The gate manufacturer’s position was that the pin had been added only to aid with track assembly and that it had no structural purpose. ATA’s analysis and testing suggested that the addition of the pin would have had no relevant effect in the subject accident. ATA’s opinion was that the cause of the track misalignment was inadequate attachment of the track to the mezzanine and inadequate inspection and maintenance of that critically important attachment by the plant’s owner. ATA saw evidence of other irregularities in the way the gate and track were mounted to the mezzanine (work done by a third-party contractor) that were also likely contributors to the gate’s derailment.

In evaluating the plaintiff’s theory, ATA found that the force needed to shear the track alignment pin was relatively large, but that this misalignment resisting force would act only in the plane between the abutting ends of the track sections. Away from the joint, the pin could have done nothing to keep the poorly supported thin-walled steel track tubing from bending, and such bending probably would have also produced a gate derailment. A textbook analysis of the cantilevered section of the tubing near the joint indicated that yielding and irreversible, plastic bending of the tubing would begin at an applied load of only about 1/10th of the load needed to shear the pin. A more complex analysis suggested that a “plastic hinge” would develop in the tubing at a slightly higher load, but still only about 1/8th of the pin’s shear strength.

The physical effects of yielding and plastic hinging were examined in instrumented tubing bend tests conducted in ATA’s laboratory. Though not presented directly at trial, the test results served as a reality check which supported the theoretical machine design principles that formed the basis for ATA’s defense of the gate and track design. As expected, the calculated tubing yield point coincided with the onset of a non-linear relationship between deflection and applied load. Development of a plastic hinge, on the other hand, did not produce a distinctive change in the deflection vs. load curve. Instead, for a cantilevered length of square tubing, the plastic hinge point occurred when the applied load equaled about half the collapse load, i.e. that constant load which produces continuing, increasing deflection.



Surfacing in a variety of flavors, cybersecurity threats range from business email compromise (BEC) to ransomware and malware – the list of avenues into an organization’s sensitive underside is growing rapidly.

But recent breaches of private enterprises and government agencies show that the threat landscape is evolving, largely due to an uptick in breaches caused by insider threats. The amount of sensitive data that has been compromised over the last year has caused organizations to, in one way or another, halt business operations as a result of a bad egg in an organization.

Organizations are increasingly implementing collaboration strategies to make information sharing easier, recognizing that employees are the power behind any company. Unfortunately, some organizations have not put in appropriate security controls and, instead, simply trust employees to safeguard sensitive or proprietary data. This trust is frequently abused or neglected, and organizations are finding out (the hard way) that employees take more than memories with them as they plan their departure, leaving organizations open to insider threats.

What is an insider threat?
An insider threat is a malicious threat to an organization that comes from people within the organization – such as employees, former employees, contractors, or business associates – who have inside information concerning the organization's security practices, data, and computer systems. The threat may involve fraud, the theft of confidential or commercially valuable information, the theft of intellectual property, or the sabotage of computer systems. The following are a couple of examples of Insider Threats:

Example 1
Anthony Levandowski was an engineer at Waymo, a subsidiary of Alphabet (formerly known as Google). His role there was to accelerate the development of self-driving cars. In December 2015, he downloaded 9.7 GB of company files on his computer, allowing him to “work from home”. But in January 2016, Levandowski left Google and started Otto, a self-driving trucking company that was then bought by Uber. Waymo later sued Uber for trade secret theft.

Waymo alleged in the suit, which went to trial, that Levandowski stole trade secrets, which were then used by Uber. While the case went to trial, it was settled in February 2018. Under the settlement, Uber has agreed not to incorporate Waymo’s confidential rmation into their hardware and software. Uber also agreed to pay a financial settlement that included 0.34% of Uber equity, per its Series G-1 round $72 billion valuation. That calculated, at the time, to approximately $244.8 million in Uber equity.

Example 2
A husband who worked in the UK’s immigration office decided the best way to stop seeing his wife again was to place her on a terror watch list. This left her stranded in her native country of Pakistan, and unable to return to British soil.

Her pleas to return to her adoptive country were ignored for three years. Up for a promotion, the tampering was discovered only when authorities ran a background check on the husband. Sometimes the victim of an insider threat isn’t the business or organization itself, but a client or customer.

It’s an uneasy realization for any organization to know its employees may be the weakest link in the chain. Companies must rely on several preventative measures to protect against detecting insider threats, satisfying regulatory compliance and helping investigators respond quickly to loss incidents. Establish a relationship with an expert today and discuss how to implement the necessary security controls.



In years past, surveying was done either by an individual shooting points limited to their eyesight (meaning if you can’t see it, the machine is unable shoot it), or with a team of two; an individual operating the survey equipment, and an individual in the field holding a prism pole to retrieve points the machine is unable to shoot.

With the new robotic survey equipment, the machine can detect and follow the individual holding the prism pole as they walk in the field, and with a touch of a button the “pole man” can tell the machine up to 1,000 feet away to take a point. ATA Associates has determined this equipment to be safer for individuals collecting data on roads with heavy traffic. It is also more cost efficient since there is only one person needed to operate the equipment and it takes less time to collect data.


This issue’s featured topic for ATA’s Toolbox is Products Liability, which includes product testing. In the course of performing our traditional vehicular and boating incident reconstructions; it was only natural that we became heavily involved in product and component testing and analysis, as well as products liability investigations and products safety analysis.

For more information on this topic, visit the ATA Toolbox/Products Liability drawer.