About Amerisurv| Contact    
Magazine | Newsletter    
Flickr Photos | Advertise    
HomeNewsNewsletterAmerisurv DirectoryJobsStoreAuthorsHistoryArchivesBlogVideosEvents

Sponsored By

Software Reviews
Continuing Series
An RTN expert provides everything you need to know about network-corrected real-time GNSS observations.
Click Here to begin the series,
or view the Article PDF's Here
76-PageFlip Compilation
of the entire series
Test Yourself

Got Answers?
Test your knowledge with NCEES-level questions.
  Start HERE
Meet the Authors
Check out our fine lineup of writers. Each an expert in his or her field.
Wow Factor
Sponsored By

Product Reviews
Partner Sites







Spatial Media LLC properties




Home arrow Archives   The American Surveyor     

Vantage Point: Knowing When to Stop Print E-mail
Written by Wendy Lathrop, PS, CFM   
Friday, 02 May 2014

A 71Kb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine—complete with images—is available by clicking HERE

There have been two big automobile recalls in the last several weeks, accompanied by fines in the billions, due not just to defective features but because of the manufacturers' failures to notify the public of them. For Toyota and Lexus, the problem (attributed to 12 deaths) has been in two parts: stock floor mats that get stuck under the accelerator and plastic material in the accelerator pedal that could cause it to stick in a partially depressed position. For GM the problem has been a little more complex: an ignition part that was re-engineered but not given a new part number so that it has been difficult to tell which cars had the faulty part. The result of ignitions slipping out of the "on" position and cutting power to vehicles has been 13 deaths.

For both manufacturers, the design glitches had been known for years. And they are not alone. My husband likes the small BMW wagon, big enough to carry a dog and groceries at the same time. About five years ago, his car began to suddenly die out, losing power in some very inopportune places like ramps onto highways. He took it in to the dealer multiple times; they charged him vast sums of money; the problem persisted. The last time he was told that the cause was the higher sulfur content in US gas compared to European gas, resulting in engine corrosion so that compression was lost. Oh, and the warranty against this problem had just expired. My husband sold his car for parts and I will never buy from BMW, now revealed as a writer of stealth warranties.

Why do companies do these kinds of things? It's all a ratings game. The fewer recall notices put out and the fewer vehicles publicly identified as defective, then the better the rating of manufacturer. But the outcry when such tactics and disregard of dangers become public is probably worse than when a firm takes responsibility for its errors.

Cars and surveying: do these two topics intersect? Are stealth warranties like stealth surveys, with corner markers mysteriously moved in the night? Is ignoring a problem until it becomes life threatening related to avoiding owning up to survey miscalculations or insufficient research? While the consequences are not always as devastating, certainly that's possible, depending upon who is relying on surveying work for bigger projects.

Two cases about surveyors admitting errors (or not) come to mind immediately, both widely cited. The first, La Bruno v. Lawrence (166 A.2d 822; 1960), has been discussed here before, but is a perfect example of how attitude and pride get in the way of doing the right thing. To recap for those who don't remember, Lawrence had surveyed two adjoining lots in the past, and Smith, one of the lot owners, now wished to erect a fence on the common line. Lawrence re-staked that common line for him, placing a marker in the front, one in the rear, and one in the middle of the flower bed owned by neighbor La Bruno, who had relied on the first survey to install his now encroaching garden, patio, and walkway. Even when La Bruno visited Lawrence in his office to say that either one survey or the other had to be wrong, Lawrence's classic response was (quoted directly), ""I'll cross that bridge when I come to it." His reward for bad attitude was punitive damages for trespass (a negligent tortious act), since "[h]e demonstrated a willful and wanton disregard of the property rights of the plaintiffs, that was reasonably calculated to aggravate his original mistaken trespass by the consequent trespasses of the Smiths and [Smith's fence contractor]."

The second case, Enright v. Lubow (493 A.2d 1288; 1985), involves a mistaken easement location on a survey. The Enrights hired Bailey to survey property that was to going to be sold to the Lubows, and the resulting plan located a gas and electric right-of-way 30 feet from the house. On notification by the electric company that it would be cutting down trees "near their home", the Enrights suspected a problem--but didn't tell the Lubows. Their title company ordered a second survey from Bailey, which now showed the easement within six feet of the house. A third survey, by another surveyor, confirmed the second location. Result: sale falls through, suit filed, damages assessed.

In 2013 the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration asked Chrysler to voluntarily recall certain Jeeps with an increased risk of fire if rear-ended. Chrysler's first response was to refuse, claiming the vehicles met or exceeded all safety requirements when built and were among the safest vehicles in their respective classes. But within weeks, a "voluntary campaign" (not a "recall") was underway, with a massive public relations component to it. How will you handle your mistakes?

Wendy Lathrop is licensed as a Professional Land Surveyor in NJ, PA, DE, and MD, and has been involved since 1974 in surveying projects ranging from construction to boundary to environmental land use disputes. She is a Professional Planner in NJ, and a Certified Floodplain Manager through ASFPM.

A 71Kb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine—complete with images—is available by clicking HERE

< Prev   Next >

 American Surveyor Recent Articles
Thought Leader: Land is Too Important to Be Left to Land Specialists
A while back I was searching the Internet for an old treatise on land titles. A Google query yielded a book published in 1914. The author was Charles Claudius Kagey and the book was titled "Land Survey and Land Titles, a book for boys and girls, a reference volume for property owners, a text ....
Read the Article
Jason E. Foose, PS 
Decided Guidance: Wacker vs. Price - Irony in Sevenfold
This month's case takes us to Phoenix, Arizona in 1950. The Arizona Supreme Court went all guns-a-blazin' in Wacker vs. Price (216 P.2d 707 (Ariz. 1950)). Maybe it's just me, but I'm sensing plenty of irony and have taken license to point it out along the way. I like what the Court did with this case ....
Read the Article
Allen E. Cheves 
Around the Bend - A Visit to Carlson Software
The Ohio River is one of America's greatest, running near 1,000 miles between Pittsburgh and the Mighty Mississippi. Much of the coal and other products that fueled our nation's industrial expansion flowed between the shores of this maritime ....
Read the Article
Lee Lovell, PS 
Surveying & Mapping Economics Part 3 - Customers & Services
This article continues an inquiry into the economic conditions of the Surveying and Mapping industry (NAICS 541370) using data from the U.S. Census Bureau. This time we will look at customers and services. The data comes from the Economic Census conducted every 5 years on American ....
Read the Article
Jerry Penry, PS 
True Elevation: Black Elk Peak
Black Elk Peak, located in the Black Hills region of South Dakota, is the state's highest natural point. It is frequently referred to as the highest summit in the United States east of the Rocky Mountains. Two other peaks, Guadalupe Peak in Texas and ....
Read the Article
Larry Trojak 
Bringing The Goods - Mobile Scanning an Integral Component
When Jim Smith, Jerrad Burns and Charlie Patton left the Memphis division of a major construction company in 2015, they took with them the knowledge of how to get even the most complex jobs done and what equipment could best serve them in making that happen. So when they joined West ....
Read the Article
Lee Lovell, PS 
Test Yourself 41: Integers, Integers, and Integers
ABF is a 5:12:13 triangle, ACF is a 48:55:73 triangle, ADF is a 3:4:5 triangle, and AEF is a 7:24:25 triangle, all with integer sides and inscribed in a semi-circle. What are the lengths of BC, CD, and DE? ....
Read the Article
Wendy Lathrop, PS, CFM 
Vantage Point: Sunset or Sunrise?
While we often think of legislated government programs as static, they do change over time. Such evolution and opportunity for transformation are part of the dialogue in reauthorizing these programs. Every so many years there is a sunset on each government program, and this September is the ....
Read the Article


Amerisurv Exclusive Online-only Article ticker
Featured Amerisurv Events
List Your Event Here
contact Amerisurv


JAVAD Intros
Spoofer Buster

press [at] amerisurv.com
Online Internet Content


News Feeds

Subscribe to Amerisurv news & updates via RSS or get our Feedburn
xml feed

Need Help? See this RSS Tutorial

Historic Maps

post a job
Reach our audience of Professional land surveyors and Geo-Technology professionals with your GeoJobs career ad. Feel free to contact us if you need additional information.


Social Bookmarks

Amerisurv on Facebook 

Amerisurv LinkedIn Group 

Amerisurv Flickr Photos 

Amerisurv videos on YouTube 



The American Surveyor © All rights reserved / Privacy Statement
Spatial Media LLC
905 W 7th St #331
Frederick MD 21701
301-695-1538 - fax