October 31, 2007

Expert Witnesses' Crucial Role in Litigation #3

In Utilizing Experts In An Expert Way, Kelli Hinson and Tesa Hinkley describe the crucial role expert witnesses have at trial and give advice on how best to use them. In this excerpt, Hinson and Hinkley give tips on how to set a reasonable schedule.

Whenever possible, work with the opposing side to provide experts enough time to perform their analyses and write their reoprts. Leaving only a few weeks for rebuttal reports and depositions can result in rushed work and though plaintiffs often prefer a tight schedule, both plaintiffs and defendants benefit from having time to respond properly.

Excerpted from the ABA Expert Witness Alert, Summer/Fall 2007

October 30, 2007

Expert Witnesses' Crucial Role in Litigation #2

In Utilizing Experts In An Expert Way, Kelli Hinson and Tesa Hinkley describe the crucial role expert witnesses have at trial and give advice on how best to use them. Here they give useful tips on scheduling academic experts to fit the time table for your case.

Most academic experts have teaching and research duties that can restrict the time they have available for consulting activities. The more senior academics often teach one semester per year. Identifying this period in advance, and working around it by utilizing the summer and other non-teaching periods, will maximize th expert's availability for your needs.

Excerpted from the ABA Expert Witness Alert, Summer/Fall 2007

October 29, 2007

Expert Witnesses' Crucial Role in Litigation

In Utilizing Experts In An Expert Way, Kelli Hinson and Tesa Hinkley describe the crucial role expert witnesses have at trial and give advice on how best to use them.

Plan ahead when considering experts. Some cases may benefit from muliple testifying experts. Start by considering anticipated phases of the case (class certification, liability, damages) when determining the scope of your expert needs. Breadth of consulting support can help you avoid retraining a new support team when new experts are added. For larger litigation, identifying an expert early will lessen the risk of losing the expert's services to another party in the litigation.
Excerpted from the ABA Expert Witness Alert, Summer/Fall 2007

October 28, 2007

Media Expert Witness Will Speak At Public Inquiry

Media expert witness Dr. Mary Lynn Young will be heard on Oct. 29 and 30 at the Cornwall Ontario Public Inquiry. Young is the acting director and an associate professor at the University of British Columbia's Graduate School of Journalism. The expert witness will speak on the impact media coverage may have had on the community and whether that coverage influenced institutional response to allegations of child sexual abuse. The Inquiry's task is to research and report on the institutional response of the justice system and other public institutions in relation to allegations of historical abuse of young people in the Cornwall area. CNW Group also writes:

Having nearly completed hearing testimony from witnesses who are victims or alleged victims of child sexual abuse, the Inquiry is now hearing community context evidence. Much of this form of evidence is provided by individuals who were not themselves victims of childhood sexual abuse, but who became involved in issues related to allegations of abuse. Some of the witnesses scheduled to appear have held to the view that there was disregard for - or suppression of - information regarding abuse of children and youth.

October 27, 2007

Polygraph Expert Witness Testimony Is Primary Piece of Evidence

A polygraph test was admitted into evidence at a criminal trial in Ohio last week for the first time in more than thirty years. As a result, Sahil Sharma was found not guilty of sexual battery. The main witness for the defense was Dr. Louis Rovner of Los Angeles, California, a renowned scientist and polygraph expert witness. After a polygraph test that lasted more than 2 ½ hours, Rovner concluded that Mr. Sharma was telling the truth when he said that the woman was wide awake and that the sexual encounter was consensual.

The case of Ohio vs Sahil Sharma had been hotly contested for more than a year. Rovner returned to Ohio for the trial and testified in open court, examined first by the defense, and cross-examined aggressively by the prosecutor. During the reading of the verdict, Dr. Rovner’s expert witness testimony was cited as one of the primary pieces of evidence that led to the finding of not guilty.

October 26, 2007

Forensic Psychiatry Expert Witness Convincing in Montgomery Trial

A Kansas City jury this week convicted Lisa Montgomery of killing Bobbie Jo Stinnett to kidnap Stinnett’s unborn daughter. The defense expert witnesses had testified that Montgomery suffered pseudocyesis, a delusional belief that she was pregnant, and post-traumatic stress disorder. The prosecution's forensic psychiatriy expert witness Park Dietz dismissed the pseudocyesis claim but agreed Montgomery suffered from the stress disorder. He testified that it did not rise to the level of severe mental disorder which would have been key in supportilng an insanity defense in federal court. The Kansas City Star also reports that the federal jury found Montgomery, 39, guilty of one count of kidnapping resulting in death.

October 25, 2007

Finance Expert Witnesses Opine In Aristocrat Leisure Class Action Suit

Professor Brad Cornell of the California Institute of Technology testified Wednesday for the defense in the Sydney, Australia, class action suit against gaming giant Aristocrat Leisure Ltd. The finance expert witness said only part of the 57 per cent fall in Aristocrat Leisure's share price in February 2003 could be attributed to previously undisclosed bad news. The Sydney Morning Herald also reports:

Brad Cornell, from the California Institute of Technology, said sellers were also affected by the belated discovery that Aristocrat's then management was "dishonest and incompetent". When new executives were installed, the share price partly recovered.

The shareholders' expert witness, the New York econometrician Fred Dunbar, argued that almost all the share price fall could be attributed to the effect on earnings of the new information. He said the share price would have fallen by the same 57 per cent, albeit in stages, if Aristocrat had announced lower - correct - profits in February and August 2002 and if it had righted an inflated profit forecast in December 2002.

October 24, 2007

Medical Expert Witnesses Testify On Texas Medical Board

Texas lawmakers heard complaints from medical expert witnesses about the Texas Medical Board on Tuesday. During the proceedings, legislators questioned the board about former member Dr. Keith Miller, who resigned in August after a law was passed banning board members from acting as expert witnesses in malpractice cases. The Statesman reports:

The House Appropriations regulatory subcommittee, led by state Rep. Fred Brown, R-Bryan, has heard repeated charges that the board expends time and money chasing violations that have little to do with patient care, Brown said.... Dr. Roland Chalifoux, a former neurosurgeon in the Fort Worth area, said the board unfairly took his license after a patient died, forcing him to leave the state. If he is a danger to patients, he asked lawmakers, why is he allowed to teach and practice in Wheeling, W.Va.?

October 23, 2007

Toxicology Expert Witness Says Medical Condition Not Credible

William "Billy'' Nichols Jr. is charged with double counts of DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide in the deaths of two nurses, Nancy and Holly Cummings, on Nov. 26, 2004. Nichols had a blood alcohol level of 0.13 to 0.15 when he lost control of his Ford F-250 truck. The legal limit is .08. The defense contends that Nichols has a medical condition that results in a high blood alcohol level in his stomach hours after drinking but toxicology expert witness for the prosecution, Dr. Mark Montgomery, testified Thursday saying "You can't fool mother nature or the brain when it comes to alcohol. Ocola.com goes on to report:

The defense is not contesting the blood results but is alleging a medical condition caused alcohol to sit in Nichols' stomach and not metabolize, which would cause the blood alcohol level in Nichols' stomach to rise after the crash. (Expert witness) Montgomery disputed the claim. "I've never seen any piece of data that suggests ... fluid sitting in the stomach and magically starts getting absorbed," Montgomery said.

October 22, 2007

DNA Expert Witness Says DNA Evidence Matches Perfectly in EMU Murder Case

DNA testing puts Orange Taylor III at the scene of the sexual assault and murder of Eastern Michigan University student Laura Dickinson. DNA expert witness Heather Vitta testified that Taylor's DNA is a perfect match to semen stains found in her college dorm room. Expert witness Vitta, supervisor of the biology and DNA unit at the Michigan State Police Northville lab, testified in Washtenaw County Court. The Detroit Free Press also reports:

Taylor’s DNA perfectly matches samples taken at the scene, and the odds of finding another match would be one in quadrillions or even quintillions, Heather Vitta, supervisor of the biology and DNA unit at the Michigan State Police Northville lab, testified in Washtenaw County Court.

With these kinds of numbers, she said: “I certainly would expect to see it only once in the entire population of the world.” Dickinson was killed early Dec. 13, prosecutors say, by then 20-year-old Taylor. Taylor now is 21 years old. Blaine Longsworth, Washtenaw County assistant prosecutor, called the attack “every woman’s worst nightmare come true.”

October 21, 2007

Brain Expert Witness Testifies in Lisa Montgomery Trial

Lisa Montgomery is on trial in federal court in Kansas City for killing Bobbie Jo Stinnett in December 2004 and cutting her baby from her womb. Vilayanur Ramachandran, a brain expert witness researcher and California university professor, testified that Montgomery suffered from a delusion that she was pregnant. People with this condition, known as pseudocyesis, will go as far as manufacturing evidence to cling to their delusion, the expert witness said. The Kansas City Star also writes:

First Assistant U.S. Attorney Matt Whitworth questioned Ramachandran about all the evidence against Montgomery and the inconsistent statements she gave about her alleged pregnancy in the months leading up to Stinnett’s killing. He testified that “fluctuations” in a person’s stories would be consistent with an emotionally disturbed person in a delusional state.“Despite all this evidence you contend that she didn’t know it was wrong?” Whitworth asked. “That is correct,” Ramachandran answered.

October 20, 2007

Barring Business Law Expert Witness in Qwest Trial A Mistake

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers says a judge erred in barring a defense expert witness while allowing two similar experts for the prosecution in the criminal conviction of Qwest Communications chief Joe Nacchio. The NACDL said the judge's decision allowed government experts to be "effectively unchallenged." CNNMoney.com also writes:

Allowing Nacchio's conviction to stand would 'create an uneven playing field, especially in complex criminal trials such as white-collar cases, in which experts are increasingly important,' according to the document.

Barbara Bergman, a University of New Mexico law professor and president of the group, said the expert was Daniel Fischel, corporate law expert witness, who was to testify about Qwest's guidance and its impact on the financial markets during 2000 and 2001.

October 19, 2007

Ophthalmology Expert Witness Sues American Academy of Ophthalmology

Dr. Charles Yancey is suing the American Academy of Ophthalmology and two doctors who filed a complaint against him for allegedly giving inaccurate testimony. Ophthalmology expert witness Dr. Yancey claims all three conspired to defame and intimidate him so he wouldn't testify in other cases, according to the lawsuit filed in July. American Medical News reports:

It was the first time Dr. Yancey had served as a medical expert witness, and "he felt an ethical obligation to step forward and do this," his lawyer, Michael A. Zimmer, said. But the fact that Dr. Yancey received the faxed letter the day before his deposition in a subsequent trial on damages in the case, "was clear evidence that this complaint was filed ... to try to get him to alter his testimony," said Zimmer, who practices in Minneapolis.

October 18, 2007

Expert Witness To Report On OK State Senator's Competency

Former OK state Sen. Gene Stipe's mental competence could have significant ramifications beyond an effort to revoke his probation. A recent indictment against him on new charges also could be affected. Stipe's competence is being questioned after a federal judge said Monday that a prison psychologist found Stipe to be incompetent.
NewsOK.com also writes:

U.S. District Judge Ronald White made the statement during a 20-minute hearing on a defense motion to delay the octogenarian's mental competency hearing. Stipe's lead attorney, Clark Brewster, requested the hearing, saying he received Dr. Robert Denney's report on Stipe only last week. Brewster said that didn't give him ample time to study it and find expert witnesses who might possibly challenge the report's conclusions.

October 17, 2007

Expert Witnesses On Expert Witnesses

While some may think expert witnesses are paid to say what lawyers wants them to say, these experts tell the real story:

DNA expert witness Dr. Richard Saferstein says the legal system could not work without expert witnesses. "Expert witnesses such as myself are an important safeguard in the judicial system. If there's a problem, we hopefully can find it. And we can discourage the government from going overboard," says Saferstein, a defense expert in criminal cases for 15 years.

Dr. Joseph Willner, chief of neurology at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center, says "What [an IME] should be is a person who has no ax to grind, no bias ... who essentially gives a second opinion."

Dr. Frank Tinari, a forensic economics expert witness, predicts what people would have earned the rest of their lives had they not been killed or injured. Tinari says most experts can't get away with pandering to clients, "While there might be suspected bias on the part of each side's experts, the adversarial process is a good way of getting to the truth and exposing any exaggerations or abuses."

For more, see Expert at earning big paydays by John Petrick at NorthJersey.com

October 16, 2007

Medical Expert Witness Testifies on SIDS

Bristol University's Institute of Child Life and Health is releasing a study this week which found that 9 out of 10 mothers whose babies suffered SIDS smoked during pregnancy. The study says women who smoke during pregnancy are four times more likely than non-smokers to see their child fall victim to SIDS. Ms. Angela Cannings, from Salisbury in Wiltshire, maintained her babies died from SIDS but was jailed for life in April 2002 after she was found guilty of smothering her two sons. At her appeal, Professor Robert Carpenter, a medical expert witness specializing in statistics, said the babies had been at a "substantially increased risk" of SIDS because they may have been exposed to cigarette smoke. The Independent also writes:

The comprehensive report will make a strong case for the Government to increase the scope of anti-smoking legislation. It even suggests a possible move to try to ban pregnant women from getting tobacco altogether. The study, produced by Bristol University's Institute of Child Life and Health, is based on analysis of the evidence of 21 international studies on smoking and cot death. The report, co-authored by Peter Fleming, professor of infant health and developmental physiology, and Dr. Peter Blair, senior research fellow, will be published this week in the medical journal Early Human Development.

Scientists are working to the theory that exposure to smoke during the pregnancy or just after birth has an effect on brain chemicals in the foetus or in infants, increasing the risk of SIDS.
Speaking about the new report, Dr Blair said: 'If smoking is a cause of SIDS, and the evidence suggests it is, we think that if all parents stopped smoking tomorrow more than 60 per cent of SIDS deaths would be prevented.'

October 15, 2007

Telecommunications Expert Witnesses Testify in Historic Telephone Utility Acquisition

Maine's Public Advocate Office has proposed conditions for a deal in which Fairpoint would acquire Verizon's northern New England landline business. The 23 conditions were developed based on the examination by Public Advocate attorneys, their four expert witnesses, and thousands of pages of documents, and testimony in the case. Telecommunications expert witnesses testified in the telephone utility acquisition case where PUC attorneys said "The risks presented by this case are enormous, and all potential adverse impacts must be addressed now." Seacoast Online also reports:

A key element of the Public Advocate's recommendations requires a restructuring of the agreement between Fairpoint and Verizon so that Verizon, in effect, is paid a lower price. That change would allow Fairpoint to operate with less debt. 'Because, under Maine law, Verizon does not have the right to abandon service without the commission's approval, the Public Advocate believes it is appropriate for the commission to require Verizon to lower its price in order to ensure Fairpoint's long-term financial viability. Without a significant reduction in the price, this proposal will not work for Maine's residential and small business customers,' Davies emphasized. If Fairpoint and Verizon are unable or unwilling to perform on all of these recommended conditions, the Public Advocate will recommend that the transaction be rejected by the PUC.

October 14, 2007

Adelphia Former Execs Say Prosecution Erred By Not Calling Accounting Expert Witnesses

Former Adelphia executives John and Tim Rigas filed a petition Wednesday to have their case heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. Adelphia former chairman John Rigas was sentenced in 2005 to 15 years in prison and his son, former chief financial officer Timothy Rigas was sentenced to 20 years in prison as a result of their 2004 convictions on 18 counts of fraud and conspiracy. The Rigases contend that the government erred by not calling accounting expert witnesses during the criminal trial. Broadcast Newsroom also reports:

'Plaintiffs who bring civil securities fraud cases are subject to a clear and well-established rule. If the case turns on accounting issues outside the knowledge of lay jurors, the plaintiff as the party bearing the burden of proof must call expert witnesses,' the Rigases attorneys claim...

The Rigases claim the lower appeals court made a mistake in holding that GAAP rules 'do not govern' in a securities fraud case and that compliance with GAAP is relevant only as evidence on an issue of good faith. The Rigases contend those statements contradict rulings in several different courts that 'the SEC requires companies to prepare their public financial statements in conformity with GAAP.'

October 13, 2007

Environmental Expert Witnesses Dispute Findings in Gore's Movie

Stewart Dimmock accused the British government of "brainwashing" children by requiring that Al Gore's movie An Inconvenient Truth be shown in schools. A judge in Britain's High Court has ruled in the case that Gore's apocalyptic movie on climate change should come with a warning that it promotes "partisan political views" and is riddled with errors. The government's environmental expert witnesses found that many of the movie's "facts" are incorrect. For example, Gore portrays the ice cover in Antarctica as melting when in fact it is increasing according to expert witnesses. Judge Michael Burton did not ban the movie but ordered the government to rewrite its guidelines to highlight the movie's falsehoods. Canada.com writes more on Gore's portrayal of the environment.

Gore's claim: A retreating glacier on Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania is evidence of global warming. Finding: The government's expert witness conceded this was not correct.

Gore: Ice core samples prove that rising levels of carbon dioxide have caused temperature increases. Finding: Rises in carbon dioxide actually lagged behind temperature increases by 800-2000 years.

Gore: Global warming triggered Hurricane Katrina, devastating New Orleans. Finding: The government's expert accepted it was "not possible" to attribute one-off events to global warming.

Gore: Global warming is causing Africa's Lake Chad to dry up. Finding: The government's expert accepted that this was not the case.

Gore: Polar bears had drowned due to disappearing Arctic ice. Finding: Only four polar bears drowned, due to a particularly violent storm.

Gore: Global warming could stop the Gulf Stream, plunging Europe into a new ice age. Finding: A scientific impossibility.

Gore: Species losses, including coral reef bleaching, are the result of global warming.
Finding: No evidence to support the claim.

Gore: Melting ice in Greenland could cause sea levels to rise dangerously. Finding: Greenland ice will not melt for millennia.

Gore: Ice cover in Antarctica is melting. Finding: It is, in fact, increasing.

Gore: Sea levels could rise by seven metres, causing the displacement of millions of people.
Finding: Sea levels are expected to rise by about 40 centimetres over 100 years.

October 12, 2007

Expert Witnesses Testify Re: Doctor Negligence

Expert witnesses, including Dr. Jay Shapiro, a cardiologist from Los Angeles, testified Wednesday in the civil suit filed against Kentucky doctor Mathew Shotwell. The late Peggy Bellamy and her sister Jacqueline Hopkins allege that 49-year-old Donald Bellamy died as a result of Shotwell's "acts of negligence and gross negligence." Mr. Bellamy died of a ruptured pseudoaneurysum, ultimately bleeding to death. The Ledger Independent also reports:

Plaintiffs seek compensation for medical expenses, funeral expenses, pain, suffering and lost wages. Life expectancy expert witness Dr. Edward Berla of a Lexington consultant firm testified regarding Donald Bellamy's work life expectancy based on his record of continuous employment and other factors. Economist expert witness Dr. Ronald Missun testified regarding Donald Bellamy's expected earnings based on his work life expectancy. He determined the minimum earnings to be more than $616,000, and topping out around $975,000, considering benefits, raises and other factors.

October 11, 2007

Massey Energy Attorney Says Judge Was Biased Against Coal Expert Witness in $76M Judgment

Massey Energy Co. hopes to reverse the 2002 $76 million judgment against them by arguing that a Virginia lawsuit previously addressed the underlying coal contract dispute. Massey attorney D.C. Offutt said the Virginia case, which ended in 2001 with a $6 million judgment in favor of Harman Mining Co., should have precluded its Boone County lawsuit. Offutt alleges bias by Lincoln County Circuit Judge Jay Hoke saying that Hoke appeared to aid Harman by cross-examining several of its expert witnesses. Offutt also argues that Hoke wrongly excluded a Massey coal expert witness. Chron.com also writes:

'I think he interjected himself too much in this case and became an advocate,' Offutt said. 'If you look at his questioning, I don't think it was impartial. I think it in many ways helped the plaintiffs.' Justice Robin Davis asked Harman's lawyer about Hoke's conduct. She cited a recent Supreme Court ruling that reversed a case because of a judge's questioning from the bench. 'I think the question there is whether the judge engaged in rehabilitating witnesses,' Justice Joseph Albright said at one point. 'I think Justice Davis' question is fair in that regard.'

October 10, 2007

Environmental Expert Witness Opines on Trans Canada Keystone Pipeline

The Trans Canada Keystone Pipeline plans to run 220 miles through South Dakota in its Alberta-to-Illinois route. Heidi Tillquist, an environmental expert witness with ENSD of Fort Collins, CO, says chances of a spill along South Dakota's part of the line are no more than once in 41 years. The expert witness said that if a spill were to happen, "the spill is likely to be very small." Keystone Pipeline is preparing for a December hearing on its request to the state PUC. ArgusLeader.com also writes:

Skeptics say all pipes leak eventually. Curt Hohn, manager of WEB Water, is among them. 'If my line leaks, it's unfortunate, but it means somebody's field gets wet,' he said. 'If a crude-oil pipe leaks, that's a different problem entirely.'

October 9, 2007

Radiology Expert Witnesses Opine in The National Lung Screening Trial

The National Lung Screening Trial is tracking 50,000 smokers over nine years at a cost of $200 million. Funded by the National Cancer Institute, the study is expected to have a major impact on whether regular CT scans for smokers will become a standard of care and whether tobacco companies would have to pay for them. The Lung Cancer Alliance maintains that two of the study's key researchers have conflicts of interest because they have been hired by tobacco companies as defense radiology expert witnesses. David Armstrong of WallStreetJournal.com also writes:

In a written response to the Lung Cancer Alliance, the NCI said the expert witness work was appropriate. "Service as an expert witness, presenting independent analyses based on published medical literature, is a commonly accepted activity for physicians, researchers, and other experts and in the instance of the specific circumstances described did not violate the required disclosure guidelines of the organizations involved," NCI director John Niederhuber wrote.

To read more see Critics Question Objectivity Of Government Lung-Scan Study by David Armstrong

October 8, 2007

Asbestos Expert Witnesses Will Testify in W.R. Grace Mega Trial

W.R. Grace & Co. will fight the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals decision that restored criminal charges of "knowing endangerment" in the case against the chemical manufacturer and its top managers. The appellate court also reversed decisions that would have narrowed the definition of asbestos and limited the materials available to expert witnesses. Asbestos expert witnesses will be testifying in the "mega-trial" in Missoula expected to commence in late winter or early spring of 2008.

According to the February 2005 indictment, Grace and six one-time executives concealed the dangers of asbestos-contaminated vermiculite mined near Libby and conspired "knowingly to release asbestos, a hazardous air pollutant, into the ambient air" said David M. Uhlmann, Director of the Environmental Law and Policy Program at the University of Michigan. Uhlmann called the Grace prosecution "one of the most significant cases ever brought under the federal environmental crimes program." The Missoulian also reports:

'A number of prior cases have charged knowing endangerment, and some of those have involved worker injuries or deaths,' Uhlmann explained. 'But the allegations in the Grace case stand alone in terms of the duration of the alleged misconduct and the resulting harm to the citizens of Libby, Montana.'

October 7, 2007

Crime Scene Analysis Expert Witness Will Testify on Blood Splatter Evidence

John A. Zortman, charged with three counts of first-degree murder in connection with the Sept. 2, 2006, beating-death of his landlord, was granted his sixth continuence last week. Eighth Judicial Circuit Court Judge Thomas Brownfield granted the continuence so that Zortman's attorney would have time to acquire a crime scene analysis expert witness to examine blood splatter evidence. Pekin Times.com also writes:

Court appointed attorney Kevin D. Tippey of Grosboll, Becker, Tice and Tippey law firm in Petersburg told Brownfield that the state plans to present an expert witness on blood spatter at trial and that he needed time to have an expert review the blood spatter evidence that will be presented by Mason County State's Attorney Kristen Miller. Zortman is accused of attacking and beating Sopher because Sopher confronted him about money that Zortman owed for utilities.

October 6, 2007

Computer Security Expert Witness Opines in RIAA Win

After two days of testimony, a Duluth, Minnesota, jury found that Jammie Thomas was liable for infringing Capitol Records copyrights on all 24 of the 24 recordings at issue. The jury awarded $222,000 in statutory damages after finding that the infringement was "willful." RIAA's expert witness, Dr. Doug Jacobson, examined date stamps on Thomas's hard drive. The computer security expert witness is with the security business Palisade Systems. Eric Bangeman, writing for Ars Technica also writes:

The first case has gone to trial, and the verdict is in. The music labels now have a notch on their belt, while a woman who spent thousands of dollars on their product is now faced with a large judgment.

The RIAA hopes that this and the 20,000 other cases serve as a deterrent to would-be file-sharers, but the question of whether or not the music industry is engendering so much hostility and bad press with its campaign that it outweighs any short-term benefits remains. With a verdict in their favor, the RIAA hopes to ratchet the campaign of fear up a notch and says it will press forward with its legal campaign.

October 5, 2007

Animal Expert Witness In Court Re: Hawaii Superferry

Animal expert witness Greg Kaufman, President of the Pacific Whale Foundation, testified this week in a court hearing on on behalf of three environmental groups. The groups are seeking an injunction against the Superferry to stop operations during an environmental study. The StarBulletin writes:

As an expert witness, Kaufman has responded to questions on whale population, breeding grounds, seasonal activity, vessel speed restrictions, vessel routes and research on whale-vessel collisions.

During cross-examination yesterday, Superferry attorney Bruce Lamon questioned Kaufman about a Feb. 10, 1998, incident near Kihei in which an agent with the Pacific Whale Foundation was accused of violating the Endangered Species Act of 1973. The alleged violations included failure to allow an inspection of research activity records by the National Marine Fisheries Service, Lamon said. He said a $5,000 fine was issued, along with a warning for alleged violations.

October 4, 2007

Automotive Expert Witness Testifies in Allstate $1.425B Case

Motor vehicle crash injury expert witness Michael Freeman testified Tuesday that assumptions in an Allstate claims handling manual about how much force passengers endure in low-speed wrecks have no scientific basis. “These numbers are impossible, and they are just made up,” said Freeman, an epidemiologist at Oregon Health and Science University testifying in the second day of a $1.425 billion civil trial in Fayette Circuit Court challenging Allstate Insurance Co.’s claims handling practices. Kentucky.com also reports:

The document estimated the G-force placed on passengers and the speed of a crash based on the type of property damage to certain vehicle models. Freeman said the figures are significantly underestimated and scientifically impossible. 'This is obviously a bogus document,' Freeman said.

Freeman testified as an expert witness for Geneva Hager of Richmond, who claims that Allstate purposefully dragged out her injury claim in a 1997 wreck. Her lawyers argue that Allstate’s claims handling practices, implemented in 1995, violate Kentucky’s Unfair Claims Settlement Practices Act. They are specifically attacking how Allstate assesses minor-impact soft-tissue injury cases, or MIST claims.

October 3, 2007

DNA Expert Witnesses Trump Eye Witnesses

In Exoneration Using DNA Brings Change in Legal System, New York Times Solomon Moore discusses how misidentification by witnesses has led to wrongful convictions and how that is changing with DNA evidence. Lt. Kenneth A. Patenaude, criminalistics expert witness and police commander in Northampton, Mass., states “It’s become clear that eyewitnesses are fallible.” “Technology has made a big difference,” said Margaret Berger, a DNA expert witness and member of the National Academy of Sciences panel that is looking into the changing needs of forensic scientists. “We see that there are new techniques for ascertaining the truth.”
To read more, go to Moore's article.

October 2, 2007

Judge Hears From Discrimination Expert Witnesses Before Deciding On Class Certification

In Higher Benchmark For Class Actions Ameet Sachdev of the Chicago Tribune writes:

Demanding more evidence of wrongdoing and scrutinizing expert witnesses may, some say, bar many consumers from access to courts. Judges are raising the bar on class-action lawsuits, demanding more evidence of the alleged wrongdoing and even holding mini-trials of expert witnesses before deciding whether to enable many plaintiffs to sue as one.

The expanded scrutiny is designed to weed out frivolous suits that have drawn the scorn of businesses and inspired federal legislation imposing limits on class actions. But critics say it also threatens to deprive consumers of a legal recourse that has been used through the years to reshape the nation's economic and social landscape.

Millions of dollars, sometimes billions, are at stake in class-action suits, in which attorneys file suit on behalf of large numbers of people, seeking damages against corporate defendants for claims ranging from employment discrimination to consumer protection to antitrust law violation.

In the wood-paneled courtroom of U.S. District Judge Charles Kocoras, two paid expert witnesses faced off in a case in which two former saleswomen in the Chicago office of EMC Corp. have accused the Boston-based maker of data storage systems of gender bias in pay and of tolerating a sexually hostile working environment. Their suit seeks class-action status on behalf of all saleswomen employed between 2001 and 2004, a group totaling nearly 500.

The judge heard from discrimination expert witnesses before deciding whether to certify the class.

More from Sachdev of the Chicago Tribune to follow.

October 1, 2007

Footprint Expert Witness Testimony Sends Former Penn State Football Player to Prison

LaVon Chisley, 23, a former Penn State football player from Maryland, was convicted Friday of murder in the stabbing death of former roommate Langston Carraway. Chisley was found guilty of first- and third-degree murder based on DNA evidence and expert witness testimony. The footprint expert witness testified that a pattern left by a shoe on the victim's linoleum floor matched the wear pattern on shoes owned by the defendant.

At one time Chisley had a promising football career, but he was kicked off the Penn State team because of poor grades and at the time of the murder he was $50,000 in debt. He may have been after the cash that Carraway, kept in his apartment.
BaltimoreSun.com goes on to write:

Carraway, 26, was found in his apartment in June 2006 with 93 stab wounds, many of them to his hands and arms as he apparently sought to protect himself...Karen Muir, Chisley's lawyer, said after her closing argument that the prosecution had not proved its case. 'For the amount of blood at the scene from this vicious attack, there was no blood inside the car that my client was driving that night,' Muir said. 'According to the forensic pathologist (expert witness), the victim had 41 defense wounds. He was fighting for his life, and yet my client had no scratches, bruises or signs of a struggle.'