The intent of this work is to demonstrate the importance of charged device model (CDM) ESD testing and characterization by presenting a case study of a situation in which CDM testing proved invaluable in establishing the reliability of a GaAs radio frequency integrated circuit (RFIC). The problem originated when a sample of passing devices was retested to the final production test. Nine of the 200 sampled devices failed the retest, thus placing the reliability of all of the devices in question. The subsequent failure analysis indicated that the devices failed due to a short on one of two capacitors, bringing into question the reliability of the dielectric. Previous ESD characterization of the part had shown that a certain resistor was likely to fail at thresholds well below the level at which any capacitors were damaged. This paper will discuss the failure analysis techniques which were used and the testing performed to verify the failures were actually due to ESD, and not caused by weak capacitors.