I believe Larry nailed it above -- an impurities problem that caused the defect. If the tripod had taken a tumble (hard to imagine on Miller's own rolling casters/dolly system and we never leave cameras mounted), there would be indentations on our soft wood floors. Even a slight drop from a grip caliper has left a mark. Further, the arm itself would show marks and the missing bit of the fluid head would not be found directly underneath.
No, I do not believe this is a case of "being used incorrectly" which has been suggested a couple times now.
Nothing on your reputation at all Steve -- you recommended a good product and I'm glad I bought it. It will be an even better product if the manufacturer steps up and resolves the problem without a hitch. I look forward to reporting that as being the case here. Hardly a case of jumping the gun or being trigger happy. I'm only reporting on the experience thus far and I'll continue to do so.