W. Lynn Beason is an engineer who often serves as a consultant or expert witness in his
area of specialization, window safety. He became interested in this as an area of research
as a graduate student when the area in which he lived was hit by a tornado. He saw that
there were design problems with windows and he decided to try to clear them up. Now he
regards himself as a public safety advocate. Eschewing the label of "crusader,"
he says that he simply uses the public interest as a guidepost when undertaking his work,
especially as an expert witness. Noting that some engineers he knows operate as "guns
for hire" when serving as expert witnesses, Beason is very uncomfortable with this.
Instead he says to a potential client: "I will look at your case, and I will do my
best to understand the truth of your case, and I will tell you what I think; and it you
want me, thats great, and if you dont, just pay me what you owe me and
Im gone. And I tell that to everybody, you know, because thats very
This does not mean that Lynn Beasons life as an expert witness is easy. What he
says on the witness stand is not necessarily welcomed by all sides. Threatened with being
sued for over a million dollars for allegedly making false statements in questioning
someones window safety testing methods posed his greatest challenge. But instead of
backing off, he filed a countersuit and continued his campaign. Eventually his adversary
withdrew its suit against him. Undaunted by the unpleasantness (and potential costliness)
of all this, Beason remains dedicated to his cause. He describes himself as a very
stubborn, persistent person.
Reflecting on his approach to his work, Beason says, "I would like to feel good
about what I do, okay, and you know, you can do lots of things and not feel bad about what
you do, but I would like to feel good about what I do."
Discuss Lynn Beasons way of handling expert witnessing, including his rationale.