Summary of Decision and Reasons: James R. McGerrigle, P.Eng., and EFCO Canada Co.

In the matter of a hearing under the Professional Engineers Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. P.28; and in the matter of a complaint regarding the conduct of JAMES R. McGERRIGLE, P.ENG., a member of the Association of Professional Engineers of Ontario and EFCO CANADA CO., a holder of a Certificate of Authorization.

James R. McGerrigle, P.Eng. (the member), and EFCO Canada Co. (EFCO), a holder of a Certificate of Authorization, pled guilty to allegations of professional misconduct as defined in the Professional Engineers Act (the act) and Regulation 941 thereunder as follows:

(a)    The member and the certificate holder designed a falsework structure containing clip connections without making responsible provisions for complying with the applicable CSA standard, amounting to professional misconduct under subsection 72(2)(d) of Regulation 941; and

(b)    The member and the certificate holder designed a falsework structure without taking any or adequate steps to determine whether its clip connections could withstand the loads to which the falsework would be subjected, amounting to professional misconduct under subsections 72(2)(a), (b) and (j) of Regulation 941.

In respect of subsection 72(2)(j) of the Regulation, “conduct or an act relevant to the practice of professional engineering that, having regard to all the circumstances, would reasonably be regarded by the engineering profession as disgraceful, dishonourable or unprofessional,” the parties agreed that the conduct in question was “unprofessional,” not disgraceful or dishonourable.

The actions giving rise to the allegations relate to a bridge being constructed with rebar reinforced concrete by GBL Construction across the 18 Mile River near Lucknow, Ontario. The bridge required a falsework structure to provide temporary support for the bridge formwork while the concrete was being poured and had sufficient time to set.

The member and EFCO designed and supplied the materials for the bridge falsework structure. On or about November 5, 2007, the member sealed and signed a letter that certified that EFCO’s falsework installation conformed to EFCO’s erection drawings. On November 10, 2007, the partially-built bridge collapsed while workers were pouring concrete. Several workers were injured as a result of the collapse. It was agreed that the member and EFCO had not conducted any or sufficient testing to determine whether the clip connections were an adequate substitute for the bolts called for in the original design, including whether they could withstand the loads to which the false work would be subjected. It was also agreed that the member and EFCO had not taken steps to ensure that the clip connections complied with Canadian Standards Association Standard 5269.1–1975.

At the time of the hearing, McGerrigle was a retired member of the association who had no record of past disciplinary proceedings.

The member and EFCO were found guilty of professional misconduct under section 28(2)(b) of the act as a result of having committed acts of professional misconduct as set out in subsections 72(2)(a)(b) and (d) and (j) of Regulation 941 under the act.

In respect of the finding under subsection 72(2)(j) the panel found that the conduct in question was unprofessional, but not disgraceful or dishonourable, in accord with the Agreed Statement of Facts from the parties.

PENALTY DECISION

The parties submitted a Joint Submission as to Penalty, which the panel imposed with one minor modification. In the original joint submission it was proposed that the member maintain his status as a retired member and required him not to resume the practice of professional engineering. The panel was concerned, among other things, about its authority to order a member to maintain his membership status. The parties thus agreed to the wording in paragraph (d) below in place of the original wording. The panel thus ordered:

(a)    Pursuant to paragraph 28(4)(f) of the Professional Engineers Act, McGerrigle and EFCO Canada Co. shall both be reprimanded, and the fact of the reprimand shall be recorded on the register for a period of two (2) years;

(b)    The finding and order of the Discipline Committee shall be published in Gazette in summary form under paragraph 28(4)(i) of the Professional Engineers Act, with reference to names; and

(c)    Pursuant to paragraph 28(4)(h) of the Professional Engineers Act, either EFCO Canada Co. or McGerrigle shall pay a fine in the amount of $5,000 (five thousand dollars) to the Minister of Finance (for payment to the consolidated revenue fund) within 45 days of the date of pronouncement of the penalty decision of the Discipline Committee;

(d)    Pursuant to paragraph 28(4)(c) of the Professional Engineers Act, McGerrigle shall provide a written undertaking to the Association of Professional Engineers of Ontario that he will not resume the practice of professional engineering; and

(e)    There shall be no order with respect to costs.

The reprimand was delivered by the panel immediately following the hearing on April 13, 2015.

The written summary of the Decision and Reasons was signed by Brian Ross, P.Eng., as chair on behalf of the other members of the discipline panel: Charles Kidd, P.Eng., Rishi Kumar, P.Eng., Kathleen Robichaud, LLB, and Edward Rohacek, P.Eng.

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