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Bio

Thomas R. May, Esq., J.D., M.S., CFI, CFEI

Fire litigation is a complex endeavor involving specialized knowledge that begins with an accurate determination of fire origin and causation. Fire cases often morph into areas including, but not limited to: (1) fire dynamics, (2) forensic engineering, (3) insurance coverage, (4) arson, (5) product liability, (6) subrogation, (7) spoliation, (8) expert witness admissibility and testimony, (9) fire-related research/trends, and (10) NFPA 921 and NFPA 1033-based peer and file reviews. Don’t kid yourself. Very few attorneys possess knowledge or talent in these multifaceted areas of science and law. In these transforming topics, litigation talent and good judgment are simply not enough.

Thomas R. May provides legal counseling/representation/litigation in the areas of fire science, property & casualty insurance, insurance bad faith, Daubert expert witness admissibility/exclusion, and fire codes. He has over 35 years of extensive experience in all facets of the fire service industry, is a licensed attorney, fire scientist, adjunct professor and certified fire investigator and is internationally recognized for his knowledge, experience and involvement in fire/investigations related fields:

  • his fifteen years of employment with the Cleveland (OH) Fire Department (1987 – 2002) includes service on some of the busiest fire companies in the U.S. (ranked top 10 for structure fires – Firehouse Magazine). Frequently ‘bellying down long hallways’ has provided Mr. May with an implicit understanding of fire dynamics and bolsters his considerable experience in the analysis and interpretation of fire and explosion-related evidence;

 

  • Mr. May has an abundance of formal fire science-related formal education:
      • Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, Cleveland State University J.D., 2008;
      • University of New Haven, M.S. in Forensic Science – Advanced Investigation, 2011, Graduate Certificate in Fire/Arson Investigation (2011);
      • Duquesne University School of Law, Cyril H. Wecht Institute of Forensic Science and Law, Certificate in Forensic Science and Law, 2006;
      • University of Cincinnati. B.S. cum laude in Fire and Safety Engineering Technology, 2004;
      • University of the State of New York – Excelsior College, B.S. cum laude in Liberal Studies, 2002

 

  • his specialized fire/forensic training is exceptionally diverse and extensive; if it burns or explodes, Mr. May likely has some knowledge of the subject area. Examples include:
      • Wildland Fire Origin and Cause Determination -U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security, Fed. Law Enforcement Training Center (2006)Basic Aircraft Accident Investigation – U.S. Department of Transportation – Transportation Safety Institute (2005)
      • Regulatory Compliance for the Flammability of Wearing Apparel – American Society for Testing and Materials (2005)
      • Transit Rail Incident Investigation – U. S. Department of Transportation (2006)
      • Combustion Explosions: Mechanisms and Investigations — University of California/Davis Extension (2007)
      • Fundamentals of Explosives: Short Course on Chemistry, Physics, Forensics, and Blast Mitigation – University of Rhode Island (2010)
      • Mine Accident Investigation Techniques — U.S. Dept. of Labor – National Mine Health & Safety Academy (2012)
      • Fire Analysis for Nuclear Power Facilities — U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (2012)
      • Forensic Accounting and Fraud Examination – West Virginia University (2016)
      • Physical Metallurgy I – Udemy (2019)

 

  • Mr. May has extensive boots-on-the-ground investigative experience in forensic fire loss-site investigations involving large and complex fire cases as well as smaller losses. In fact, he is one of only two licensed attorneys internationally to attain the Certified Fire Investigator designation from the International Association of Arson Investigators (IAAI – CFI). Mr. May has investigated fires/explosions for engineering firms, insurance companies and attorneys. In 2008-09, he was handpicked and served in Iraq as a Forensic Fire Investigator for the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and Task Force SAFE. Cold case investigations are also in his wheelhouse. He routinely advises Innocence Projects worldwide in matters involving fire-related forensics.

 

  • Mr. May teaches fire-related subject areas as an adjunct professor and is a frequent lecturer on fire/explosion dynamics, forensic fire investigations, expert witness testimony, insurance law, and National Fire Protection Assn. 921 Guide for Fire & Explosion Investigations-related subjects at conferences throughout North America. Examples include:
      • Panel Presenter, “Real Science, Junk Science: How Can You Tell Them Apart? Challenging Both,” 2008 Hy Friedman Memorial Seminar, Cuyahoga County Public Defender’s Office/Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association.
      • Presenter, “Computer Fire Modeling: A Forensic Tool in Search of Qualified Users,” in “2008 International Symposium on Fire Investigation Science and Technology,” Cincinnati
      • Presenter, “Fire Investigation: Trends and Transformations,” Kentucky Bar Association 2011 Convention, Pursuing Justice In The 21st Century, Lexington.
      • Presenter, “Mythbusters: Fire Investigation Trends – Fact or Fiction,” Defense Research Institute 2016 Fire Science and Litigation Conference, Scottsdale.
      • Presenter, “Civil Claims & Insurance Matters Involving Arson,” West Virginia University, Litigation –Davis, WV (Feb. 2018).
      • Co-Presenter, “Computer Fire Modeling and Law: Applications & Explanations,” Society of Fire Protection Engineers Annual Conference, Gaining Ground in Global Fire Protection Engineering, Nashville, TN (Oct. 2018).
      • Presenter, “Come Sit by My Bonfire: Insurance Claims Fundamentals for Forensic Experts,” National Academy of Forensic Engineers, Orlando, FL (Jan. 2019).
      • Presenter, Wisconsin Chapter – Intl. Assoc. of Arson Investigators 2019 Fall Seminar — Explosion Dynamics, Forensic Examination of Glass, Natural Gas Migration, Expert Witness Report Writing, Rothschild, WI (8 hrs.) (Sept. 2019).
      • Presenter, Lincoln Memorial University Duncan School of Law, 2020 Law Review Symposium, Modern Forensic Science, Expert Testimony, and Exonerations as Applied to Fire Investigation, Knoxville, TN (5.5 continuing legal education credits) (Feb. 2020).
      • Presenter, Legal Implications of Architectural Plans, Fire Protection Engineering & Performance-based Design – A Path Through the Minefield, Texas Fire Protection Assn., Corpus Christi, TX (June 2021).

 

  • He is a leading researcher and published author of articles and textbook contributions in the area of forensic fire science, law, and fire/arson investigation. Examples include:
      • Author, “Fire Pattern Analysis, Junk Science, Old Wives Tales, and Ipse Dixit: Emerging Forensic 3D Technologies to the Rescue?” University of Richmond Journal of Law and Technology, Vol. XVI, Issue 4 (Summer 2010).
      • Author of Book Epilogue, Forensic Fire Scene Reconstruction, 3rd Ed. (2012), D. J. Icove and J. D. DeHaan, Brady Pub., N.J.
      • Author, Book Chapter “A Survey of the Use of Learned Treatises in Fire Litigation,” in “2016 International Symposium on Fire Investigation Science and Technology,” Scottsdale.
      • Acknowledgment – Kirk’s Fire Investigation, 8th Ed. (2018), D. J. Icove and G. A. Haynes, Brady Pub., N.J.
      • Co-Author, “Arc Mapping Methodologies & the Pursuit of Magical Globules, Notches, & Beads: A Bridge Too Far to Establish Fire Origin?” Lincoln Memorial University Law Review, Vol. 7, Issue 2, (Fall 2020).
      • Co-Author, “Computer Fire Modeling and the Law: Application to Forensic Fire Engineering Investigations,” National Academy of Forensic Engineers, Buffalo, NY (Jul. 2018).
      • Co-Author, “The Status of Arc Mapping,” National Academy of Forensic Engineers, Orlando, FL (Jan. 2019).

Mr. May’s wide-ranging knowledge, experience, education, and training related to fire science/investigations, when combined with his comprehensive litigation/trial experience, enables him to provide unparalleled fire litigation services at the vital initial stages of fire scene examination through case resolution.