Over the years, Dr. Jerner and J.E.I. Metallurgical have examined several kitchen pots and pans that fractured. One unusual case involved the sound of the metal fracture.
A plaintiff attorney called regarding a client who had purchased a cast iron skillet from a well-known cooking program. The client was excited to use her new skillet, placed it on the stove and lit the burner. Shortly thereafter the client heard a “loud explosion” with the handle rocketing past her head, barely missing her cheek. This frightening ordeal left her unable to cook in her kitchen.
The attorney explained that:
- No photographs were taken of the skillet, skillet handle or fracture surface where the handle had previously attached to the skillet,
- The offending skillet and handle had been returned to the well-known cooking program,
- The skillet was manufactured in China and no engineering drawings or specifications were available, and
- The skillet and failed handle had been lost and would not be available for analysis.
At first, I did not think J.E.I. Metallurgical could possibly assist. No photographs existed, no exemplar skillet with the same possible casting defect and all evidence had been thrown away. However, the sound that was part of the alleged explosion could be recreated. When a piece of metal fractures, a loud sound is often created. The stronger and more brittle the metal, the louder the sound produced at fracture.
I called the attorney back and explained that after considering the situation, J.E.I. Metallurgical could assist with the sound and metal fracture issues.
Samples were prepared, audio recording equipment was assembled, and our sound recording commenced. The sounds produced were sudden and accompanied fracture. The sounds were much like a pistol or rifle shot being fired. The sounds recorded were analyzed and sounds produced six inches from the source were greater than a 22-caliber bullet but less than a 38 caliber.
These results were sent to the client and the matter was settled as a PTSD matter.