Case Studies

Stove Burner Investigation

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The Situation

The renter of an apartment complex sustained burns on her legs and feet from hot oil in a pan that fell onto the ground while cooking. The renter claimed that the pan slid off the burner because of incorrect installation during maintenance conducted by the management company shortly before the incident. She also claimed that she was washing dishes near the stove when the pan fell to the ground.

How We Advised

J.S. Held experts inspected the stove in the plaintiff’s apartment, measured the stove angles, and then oriented an exemplary stove at the same angles. We then used an on-site photogrammetry application titled Digital Reverse Camera Projection (DRCP) to place exemplar stove elements, including the heating coil, drip pan, and trim ring, at the same location and orientation as photographs taken after the incident and claimed by the plaintiff to be representative of the time of the incident. Once the exemplar stove elements were placed and oriented to be consistent with the provided photographs, we tested the plaintiff’s story by cooking the same meal with timing and amounts as described by the plaintiff. The testing was recorded on video, demonstrating that the pan would not slip off the burner and fall to the ground. We also created a method for determining what angle the burner and pan would need to be at for the pan to slide off the burner. The same meal was cooked on a burner, and the angle of the burner was increased until the pan slid off the burner. Video recordings of this testing with a digital angle meter demonstrated a significantly larger angle was needed for this to occur and that at this type of angle, it would be improbable, if not impossible, to cook or even place the cooking pan on the burner.

Photo enhancements and analysis of embedded dates were conducted to compare the plaintiff-provided photographs taken shortly after the incident and those taken by the maintenance technician months after the incident. This analysis showed that the stove had been used during this time and that the heating elements had been manipulated and placed in a different and incorrect order between these dates. This evidence further demonstrated inconsistencies with the plaintiff’s story, which claimed that there was no knowledge of how to install, clean, or replace these elements and that the stove was not used during this timeframe as the plaintiff considered it too dangerous. The case settled shortly after our analyses and visualization materials were presented.

Key Contact

Toby Terpstra, AAS
Senior Visualization Analyst
Accident Reconstruction Practice
+1 720 907 6670
[email protected]

Related Practice Areas

> Visualization & Reconstruction Services
J.S. Held’s forensic visualization experts specialize in the production of animations, graphics, interactive media, and virtual reality environments that communicate complex concepts in a simple form.

> Accident Reconstruction
J.S. Held’s accident reconstruction experts deliver specialized expertise in forensic investigations, evidence collection and preservation, and scientific diagrams and animations.

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