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Expert Witness Services

O'Donnell Consulting Engineering Expert Witness

Engineering Expert Witness Services
O’Donnell Consulting provides expert witness services, litigation support, and forensic engineering – investigating structural failures, construction matters, industrial accidents, fire/explosions and product liability issues. We have investigated accidents involving a range of equipment including industrial, transportation, and energy applications.

With a knowledge of materials, metallurgy, fabrication practices and codes and standards, we determine how materials and products fail, including mechanical integrity of equipment that has deteriorated due to corrosion, fatigue, damage, exposure to fire, abuse, or improper manufacture. For over 40 years, we have been performing engineering design, analysis, troubleshooting and providing expert witness testimony – providing quantitative results and effective visuals/ animations. These results:

  • Are based on accurate engineering models
  • Clarify the root cause
  • Enables judges and juries to easily understand the technical issues
Coke Oven Battery
Coke Oven Battery Model
Coke Oven Battery Analysis Results

We were asked to provide technical expertise in a ($200 M) construction litigation regarding the structural integrity of a coke oven battery. Finite element analysis was used to calculate temperatures, deflections, strains, and stresses to evaluate the long term integrity of the roof and heating walls. The results showed that the battery oven walls would not deflect enough to induce instability. The construction imperfections had no meaningful effect on the structural integrity, robustness, or longevity of the battery.

To see more of the engineering and legal projects we have worked on, see Portfolio.
Our experience includes supporting legal firms in State, Federal & International Courts (on both Plaintiff and Defendant cases) as well as insurance companies – from simple to complex issues. This experience includes:
  • Recent plaintiff award over failed ductwork in an Allegheny County School (PA). Article
  • $98.8 M plaintiff award in a construction contract interference case
  • $7.8 M plaintiff award in Pittsburgh, PA. involving a stairway collapse
  • $590 M ICC binding arbitration investigation the design/ construction issues on a coke oven battery Read here
  • Served as experts into the cause of a major oil pipeline spill.
  • We have been recognized in the American Lawyer Media Top 100 Verdict Awards of 2006 and 2007.

In a range of applications:
Industrial: Plants, facilities, pressure vessels, pipes, pumps, valves, welding equipment
Oil/ Gas: Pumps, pipelines, compressors
Transportation: Rail structures, automotive braking & steering systems, wheels
Marine: Control equipment, steering systems, moorings
Chemical: Reactors, structures, vessels, heat exchangers
Civil: Bridges, towers, parking structures
Structural: Production equipment, welded assemblies, machinery
Construction: Roofs, scaffolds, demolition and excavation equipment
Consumer: Appliances, sporting equipment

Metallurgy/ Testing
We offer a full spectrum of metallurgical testing in conjunction with our engineering analysis tools to evaluate the root cause of component failure. Our testing includes:

  • Chemical and mechanical analyses
  • Metallographic examination
  • Material testing
  • Corrosion testing
  • Electron beam microscopy


Biomechanical Engineering

  • Accident Reconstruction
  • Vehicle Dynamic Analysis
  • Slip and Falls
  • Injury Biomechanics
  • Occupant Dynamics
  • Human Factors
  • Product Safety


Producing Results
The right expert can offer a powerful advantage during litigation - what sets us apart is our multi-disciplinary experience in engineering design, analysis and troubleshooting. 

We have an in-depth knowledge of design processes, materials, metallurgical and weld applications in the aerospace, oil/gas, mining, energy, and many other industries. When performing forensic analysis, we thoroughly investigate the issues - from taking data at the scene, to analyzing drawings, material specifications, and supporting documentation.

Our investigations range from simple engineering analysis, to more complex analysis involving Finite Element Analysis (FEA) which is used to evaluate design, materials and fabrication/ construction defects. These models produce accurate results (images or animations) which are used to help judges and juries understand the technical issues. (O'Donnell was one of the first engineering firms to use FEA in the Courtroom.)

We have worked in State, Federal and International Courts - including Canada, Mexico, South America, UK, Spain, and the Virgin Islands. See our list of Clients. 

Can't find what you're looking for? - See our Search Tool at the top of the Page.
See Resume Summaries of our senior engineers.

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Get the Latest Book
by Dr. William O’Donnell, PhD, PE : Founder and President of O’Donnell Consulting Engineers, Inc.

Learn from the experience of others. Especially when one such “other” is Dr. William O’Donnell, PhD, PE, Founder and President of O’Donnell Consulting Engineers, Inc., and ASME “Engineer of the Year” - his 50 years of experience in analysis of components including fatigue and fracture safety evaluations and failure analyses are now comprised in this volume. If you are interested in the fields of Engineering Design, Manufacturing and Construction, as well as Failure Analysis, then this book is a must have!

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* Does not include shipping, handling or tax.