A costly lawsuit was brought against a large American manufacturer of dishwashers after one of its machines exploded and killed the child of a suburban family. The child had been unsupervised in the kitchen while the dishwasher began to overheat, melting the circuit board and combusting. Though the model had been known to be defective, the company had not put out an enforced recall on the product. In the ensuing lawsuit, an electrical engineer who specialized in circuit boards was needed to testify on how they worked and whether the design of the dishwashing machine’s board had been both defective and dangerous.
Question(s) For Expert Witness
- 1. Do you have extensive knowledge in circuit board engineering?
- 2. Have you had any experience dealing with faulty dishwasher circuit boards?
- 3. Please explain the dangers a defective dishwasher can cause.
Expert Witness Response E-009823
I am very experienced with circuit board engineering and have worked on dishwasher fires in the past. I am able to analyze electrical and electronic engineered systems that can cause these fires using a variety of tools: system specification analysis, detailed circuit analysis, circuit overcurrent protection analysis, electrical and electronic application review, the inspection of circuit boards, Institute of Printed Circuits standards, and circuit layout implementation.
Dishwasher electronic circuits contain a mix of both low voltage control and high voltage power signals. Integration of both control and power in smaller, more compact forms poses additional risks to the developers of such products who are trying to reduce the costs of manufacturing. Design issues or circuit component weaknesses are most likely flawed when products fail in a repeatable fashion. There are many engineering factors to consider to ensure a safe and reliable product, like design guidelines and implementation, product testing, and the product development process. Dangers specific to dishwashers are generally no different than other consumer electrical products, except that dishwashers usually control the most ‘entities’ – water, electricity, pressure, and heat. A failure of any one component can lead to end effects that create safety hazards and death.