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Re: [TCML] liability coverage was Re: Pole Transformers for sale

Hi Steve,

Whew, I don’t think Dave Leddon (I believe?) knew what a can or worms he was opening by asking about why T&R was not selling pole pigs to individuals any more! Your thoughts about your personal coiling endeavors with ‘man sized’ coils pretty much mirror my own, except that I have had my big ‘Green Monster’ coil at the same suburban home for some 13 years now.

Like you, I pretty much run it on occasion for friends and family (at decent hours on the weekend, weather permitting) and did have one incident on July 4th a number of years ago where the police did show up. He was investigating ‘who was shooting off fireworks’ since someone had actually complained about them and they are ‘technically’ illegal in my municipality. When he saw the beast sitting out on my driveway (though not running), he was obviously curious and asked about it. Once I described what it was and what it did, he naturally wanted to see it in operation ;-) Once I fired it off, he was amazed and after he left, he returned about an hour or so later with his partner. It was getting toward 10 pm by then and I was in the process of putting her up. He begged me to run it once more for his partner to see and when I mentioned that I may be in danger of ‘disturbing the peace’ by running her so late (just to show how considerate I was of the local ordinances) ;-)), they said that they would “handle” any noise complaints. Naturally, I felt compelled to comply with the request of the peace officers and ran it once more for their delight. :-)

Anyway, I agree with you that when you engage in a potentially dangerous activity that the safety police haven’t had enough exposure to raise any public safety concerns, it’s probably best to keep your cards ‘close to the vest’ and not broadcast your activities too loudly. 

Happy and safe coiling to all,

Sent from my iPhone

> On Apr 28, 2018, at 2:27 PM, Steve White <steve.white1@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> I live in a suburban neighborhood where I am known as Mr. Wizard or the mad scientist. I occasionally run my big SGTC (8 foot sparks) in my backyard. The neighbors always come over to watch and love it. I suppose there is the remote possibility that one of them could be hurt by it somehow even though I take extensive precautions. I don't know if my homeowner's insurance would cover that, but I am willing to take that small risk because if we let the lawyers and insurance companies dictate everything that we do, then nothing will be fun or interesting. I have always believed that almost everything in life that is really fun or very interesting has an element of risk to it. If other people want to go through life wrapped in 12 inches of bubble wrap then let them but their life will be pretty boring. I suppose if I wanted complete assurance, I would not let anyone come into my yard to watch my coil. If I did that, I would be the only person that ever saw it and what would be the
>  point of even building it?
> On a related topic my brother, and others, at various times have suggested that I contact the local TV station to see if they wanted the news department to do a story about my big SGTC. I have even thought of that myself because I live in a small city where no one else does this sort of thing. But then I have second thoughts about the publicity. Before I built this coil, I read the city ordinances in fine detail. There is nothing in there to prevent me from operating this coil in my backyard other than if someone made a noise complaint, which has never happened. I have been operating this coil for about a year with no problems, at most once every few months. But then I think if a news story about it was broadcast, then there would suddenly be a swarm of "safety police" coming out of the woodwork trying to figure out a way to shut me down possibly resulting in a new city ordnance specifically aimed at me. Or my homeowner's insurance company hearing about it and canceling my po
> licy. Because of these possibilities, I just let people know by word of mouth that I will be operating my coil on a certain day if they want to watch. Last Halloween I ran it for several hours with hundreds of people stopping by to view.
> Steve
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "jimlux" <jimlux@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
> To: tesla@xxxxxxxxxx
> Sent: Saturday, April 28, 2018 1:29:14 PM
> Subject: [TCML] liability coverage was Re:  Pole Transformers for sale
>> On 4/28/18 10:25 AM, Edward Wingate wrote:
>> David,
>> The reason T&R quit selling to individuals is because they were 
>> threatened with a lawsuit. Why would they subject themselves to huge 
>> lawsuits for the profit on a single pole transformer when they can sell 
>> dozens at a time to entities who use them as intended....on top of a 
>> power pole, not as a power supply for a Tesla coil where the potential 
>> for an accident is high. Not to mention a use the pole transformer was 
>> never designed for. It has nothing to do with absurd or ignorant sales 
>> terms, it has to do with corporate well-being.
>> Condenser Products stopped selling to individuals for the same reason, 
>> they were threatened with a lawsuit. I worked with them to get a TC line 
>> of capacitors, which was for naught after that happened.
>> Bottom line is if an individual buys dangerous commercial products from 
>> a supplier who is willing to sell to them and gets hurt they need to 
>> lick their wounds and move on, not threaten litigation and ruin it for 
>> everyone else.
>> It's called personal responsibility! A commodity that is currently in 
>> short supply.
> Indeed, but sometimes, it's out of the original person's hands (i.e. the 
> dead or injured coiler) - Once the "bad thing" happens, and there's 
> insurance payouts (i.e. medical or life insurance), there's a sort of 
> "casting about for other sources of funds" on the part of the insurance 
> company.
> The coiler may have been perfectly happy to accept responsibility, they 
> probably even signed pieces of paper saying that.   But that doesn't 
> stop the filing of claims (or subsequent lawsuits) to try and recover 
> the costs incident to the event.   The cost to make the claim and 
> threaten the law suit is small, even if ultimately, the claim is found 
> to be unfounded.  But the company has to deal with it anyway (or, in 
> most cases, their liability insurance carrier deals with it).
> This afflicts a lot of "dangerous activities" - people who provide 
> resources to such activities (horse riding instructors, for instance) 
> carry big liability policies, which might have small premiums, depending 
> on the *actual* loss exposure and the *number* of claims - The insurance 
> company has finely calibrated the cost to beat back unfounded claims and 
> the cost of actual damages - if you're in a field where claims are 
> common and payouts not, your premiums will reflect the cost to defend 
> the claims and get them rejected.
> More to the point with a company like T&R - their liability coverage 
> might specify that they will defend claims from conventional customers 
> (utilities, electrical contractors), but not unusual customers (Joe off 
> the street).
> Often, the "mark of trust" is possessing an appropriate business or 
> professional license. Or, a Seller's Permit (allowing you to buy and 
> resell, and collect Sales Tax)
> For instance, around here (Southern California), there's a lot of 
> electrical supply places that will only sell to you if you have an 
> appropriate contractor's license (like a C10 (electrical), C-46(Solar), 
> or maybe a B (general building)) . Or, if you work it, you're licensed 
> as a Professional Engineer, but oddly, in California, having a PE 
> doesn't make it legal for you to do electrical work - I have a PE 
> license, and I can do designs and drawings, and I can supervise such 
> work, but I cannot actually perform the work.
> As it happens, also, your liability insurance carrier might put the 
> kibosh on work that they view has unknown risk.  When last I looked into 
> it (about 15-20 years ago), my insurance carrier said that doing Tesla 
> coil designs and safety analysis did NOT fall within the area they felt 
> comfortable insuring.  So if I had a client who wanted such work done, 
> I'd have to work out some sort of contractual arrangement for them to 
> indemnify me against claims coming out of the work.
> And I'd want to see that client entity have sufficient liability cover 
> for such things (kind of like being a "named insured") - the client 
> would send me a certificate from their insurance company saying "James 
> Lux, PE is covered for risks A, and B, and C under policy XYZ")  This is 
> actually a pretty standard thing - when I was in the effects business, 
> rental yards for stuff like bucket lifts and forklifts would require our 
> insurance company to send over a certificate identifying the rental 
> company as a named insured on our liability policy.
> I would imagine ATTI and similar companies have spent serious time, 
> effort, and money getting suitable liability coverage (or having a 
> contractual way to solve the problem). You'll note that Jeff Parisse 
> (former TCML member) calls out "Risk Analysis and Mitigation" as a skill 
> set on his website. That's part of the commercial game - you've got to 
> have process and analysis and so forth pretty well nailed down to get 
> the insurance company to buy off.
> Individuals typically will not have this ability - I suppose you could 
> go to your homeowner's company and get them to cover it.. people do it 
> when they do things like hire rental halls for a big party, but that's a 
> sort of known risk - there would be rules about dispensing of alcohol, 
> etc. - but for Tesla coils?
> But, as a result, I would NEVER engage in professional consulting for an 
> individual interested in Tesla coiling.  I'm overjoyed to give advice 
> and opinions, but when it comes to putting a stamp or signature on a 
> piece of paper, that's only going to happen with a lot of other 
> paperwork around it.
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