Disciplining wayward profesionals

April 2004 » Columns » PERSPECTIVE
A few years ago, New Jersey's State Board of Professional Engineers & Land Surveyors began publishing a newsletter for state licensees. I have found the most interesting material appears in the "Disciplinary Action" section.
Alfred R. Pagan, P.E., L.S.

One of the recent newsletters listed 18 individuals in the text. It may be of special interest to note that: two were licensed as both P.E. and P.L.S., six were licensed as P.E. only, eight were licensed as P.L.S. only, and two were not licensed.

Does your state provide such information for publication to its licensees? (All individuals were named and their license numbers published.) An edited sampling of the charges filed and the actions taken in New Jersey follows:

  • A P.E. and P.L.S. was fined $1,000 for "failure to cooperate with the Board's written request."
  • The second dual licensee was fined $500 for failure to set appropriate corner markers and for omitting mandatory items from a survey. In addition, the licensee was fined $1,000 for unspecified violations of the state's licensing laws.
  • An (formerly) out-of-state P.E. licensee was fined $2,500 for dishonesty, fraud and deception, and misrepresentation in his failure to disclose the sanctions imposed against him by another state's licensing board.
  • A P.E. paid a civil penalty of $1,000 for engaging in the practice of engineering with a lapsed license.
  • A P.E. was charged a $10,000 penalty for professional misconduct for failing to determine and document the identity of his client prior to the commencement of work. [I am not aware of why this was "misconduct."] And also "failure to comply with the provisions of any regulation administered by the Board" and "failure to indicate a subtitle block on plans."
  • A P.E. was reprimanded [but apparently not fined] for failing to comply with provisions of the State Licensing Board Act, for affixing signature and seal onto plans not prepared by him or under his supervision, as well as a number of other violations [which must be considered minor, since no fine was incurred].
  • A P.E. received a two-year stayed suspension of license during which time he will be required to complete two courses in the area of ethics. Formally, he was reprimanded for violations of the P.E. Examination Certification for revealing examination content on the Internet, which is a violation of state law.
  • A P.E. was reprimanded for engaging in the unlicensed practice of engineering. He held himself out as a licensed professional engineer by utilizing the initials P.E. on a report during a period in which his license was expired.
  • In one case, a P.L.S. actually was cleared of at least one incident. The board ruled that "Previous action taken, as reported in the Summer/ Fall 2001 issue of the newsletter has been rescinded based upon newly submitted documentation, which was brought to the Board's attention." [I'm proud to note that my state's board would take such corrective action.]
  • A P.L.S. paid a civil penalty of $1,000 for failure to complete the required 24 credits of continuing professional competency for a twoyear cycle. The board said that subsequent to the completion of the required credits, his land surveying license shall be returned in good standing.
  • A P.L.S. paid a $1,000 penalty for not having a "Certificate of Authorization." [I'm not sure what that is.] He also paid $520 in restitution to a former client.
  • A P.L.S. paid a penalty of $1,500 for the preprinting of a corner marker notation on a survey and for failure to obtain a waiver to set corner markers prior to completing a survey.
  • A P.L.S. was assessed $1,250 for failure to obtain recommended field measurements to perform an accurate survey, failure to set appropriate corner markers, failure to show the point of beginning of streets and adjoining street names, and failure to show a metes and bounds description of the property.
  • A P.L.S. was assessed $750 for failure to identify a marker with a durable cap, disc, or shiner bearing the name of the surveyor or firm responsible for setting the corner; failure to obtain all pertinent data and documentation; and failure to describe on a plat of survey all boundary or corner markers.
  • A P.L.S. was fined $1,000 for "failure to perform a proper field survey, and to set appropriate corner markers." Also, two unlicensed persons were mentioned in the newsletter. No fines were incurred, perhaps because the state licensing board may not have the power to fine them:
  • One miscreant "consented to cease and desist from using the terms engineer and land surveyor, or any of their derivations on stationery, et cetera." Other activities also were proscribed. A written apology to a former client was ordered for "rendering engineering services for which he was not legally authorized or permitted to perform." Also, he had to pay restitution to a former client.
  • Finally, one individual was reprimanded publicly for engaging in the unlicensed practice of engineering.

The list of individuals and violations makes interesting reading. A new list of violations and fines imposed is due out soon. I look forward to it, especially since I am almost certain that my name will not be on it.

Al Pagan is a consulting engineer in Hackensack, N.J. He can be reached at 1-201- 441-9719. E-mail: pagan@cenews.com.


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