June 25, 2012

Economic Damages Expert Witnesses & Apple v. Motorola Case

U.S. Circuit Judge Richard A. Posner in Chicago excluded damages expert witness testimony in Apple v. Motorola (1:11‐cv‐08540), ruling that neither Apple nor Motorola have been able to prove damages and will not be allowed to refile a claim. Regarding expert testimony, Judge Posner said:

The biggest challenge to the judge at a Daubert hearing, if as in this case the subject matter of the proposed expert testimony is within the judge’s comprehension, is to distinguish between disabling problems with the proposed testimony, which are a ground for excluding it, and weaknesses in the testimony,
which are properly resolved at the trial itself on the basis of evi‐
dence and cross‐examination.

January 12, 2012

Florida Legislature & Daubert

A Florida House panel has approved a bill that would lead to tougher standards for expert witnesses. HB 243 would replace the Frye standard with the Daubert standard, bringing Florida more in line with expert testimony requirements in federal courts.

Read more: news-press.com.

March 2, 2010

The Expert Witness & Daubert

In Daubert: Very Convoluted, Usually Confusing to Many, Nevertheless Elegant, Armand Rossetti writes that it is the expert witness in the first instance, and not the court as gatekeeper, who is the judge of what resources to choose to assist her in forming an opinion. It is the expert who will initially filter out prejudicial information as being irrelevant. The Court then uses Rule 703 to assure the reliability of evidence by vetting the bases that forms an expert’s testimony.

Let's take environmental asbestos infiltration an example, the fact that an air sampling study is an associational (or case) study affecting a few subjects, rather than a higher evidence based epidemiological study that affects several hundred subjects should not bar an expert from using the case study to inform her opinion about the dangers of asbestos release in the environment. The fact that a single case study published in a peer reviewed journal fails to establish causation under a Rule 703 review should go to the weight that the jury will give such evidence, but it does not mean that an expert cannot eventually rely upon it in part to form an ultimate opinion.

Of course, if a single case study were the only source of evidence, then the court might be reasonable in immediately performing a Rule 702 analysis to disqualify the entire testimony. However, the fact that an expert has relied upon several case studies to form an opinion, and has not used even one single epidemiological study should not in itself disqualify that expert’s testimony.

For more see InjuryBoard.com.

February 26, 2010

Daubert As Elegant Process To Qualify Expert Witnesses Part 2

In Daubert: Very Convoluted, Usually Confusing to Many, Nevertheless Elegant, Armand Rossetti writes:

Daubert also requires that an expert witness has to assist and not to confuse the Trier of fact. If the Jury (Trier of fact) can understand whether a substance in particular is able to cause an injury and whether an injury resulted from that particular substance, an expert opinion would be redundant and unnecessary.

On the other hand, Rule 403 requires a Court to balance the probative value against the prejudicial effects of expert witness testimony. Courts should not confuse Rule 403 with Rule 703.

For example, experts do not necessarily need an epidemiological study with an internal control group or randomly selected participants to be able to show an association between exposure to a chemical and resulting bodily abnormalities. That is true because an association is not causation. While a case study might not be sufficient to show causation, it may be all that is necessary to show an association between presence of a toxic substance and a resulting injury.

October 24, 2009

Expert Witness Disclosure Rules Part 4

In Be Alert for the “Hybrid” Witness Editor-in-Chief of Daubert Online Patrick J. Kenny writes:
Until the law on the issue settles there are some practical steps counsel should take to address hybrid witnesses:

(1) Make sure that the witness really is a “hybrid” witness. The fact that the witness happens to be a treating physician, for instance, might not be the end of the analysis. See, e.g., Kirkham v. Societe Air France, 236 F.R.D. 9, 12-13 (D.D.C. 2006) (noting that a treating physician may be “retained or specially employed” under Rule 26 and thus an expert from whom a report is required if, among other things, they base opinions on something other than their own examination of the party such as the medical records of another physician or if they are compensated or expect compensation for their time preparing to testify);

(2) Know the court’s local rules. Some courts reduce the uncertainty on the issue by addressing certain hybrid witness questions via local rules. See, e.g., N.D. Miss. and S.D. Miss. Uniform R. 26.1(A)(2)(d) (“A party shall designate treating physicians as experts pursuant to this rule, but is only required to provide the facts known and opinions held by the treating physician(s) and a summary of the grounds therefor.”);

(3) Determine whether the judge handling the matter has an individualized “chamber” rule or standing order providing guidance with respect to hybrid witnesses. E.g., Sowell v. Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Ry. Co., No. 03 C 3923, 2004 WL 2812090 at *1 (N.D. Ill. Dec. 7, 2004) (“This court maintains a Standing Order regarding the disclosure of testimony by treating physicians, which provides in relevant part: . . . Testimony by a treating physician as to causation or prognosis or future impact of the condition or injury is subject to the report requirement of Rule 26(a)(2)(B).” (emphasis in original)); and

(4) If issues concerning hybrid witnesses are evident at the beginning of the case, consider addressing them at the pre-trial conference stage of the litigation.

October 12, 2009

Expert Witness Disclosure Rules Part 3

In Be Alert for the “Hybrid” Witness Editor-in-Chief of Daubert Online Patrick J. Kenny writes:
Still other courts hold that no report is required from a hybrid witness, regardless of the nature of the opinion testimony they will provide, if they were not “retained or specially employed” to provide expert testimony. E.g., Denson v. Northeast Ill. Regional Commuter Railroad Corp., No. 00 C 2984, 2003 WL 1732984 at *1 (N. D. Ill. Mar. 31, 2003) (“There is no indication that any of the three treating physicians from whom plaintiff may elicit expert opinions was retained or specially employed for that purpose. Therefore, the report requirement does not apply for their testimony.”).

Though hybrid witness issues most often arise with respect to testimony from treating physicians, they also plainly can arise in other contexts as well. See, e.g., St. Paul Mercury Ins. Co. v. Capitol Sprinkler Inspection, Inc., 246 F.R.D. 56, 59 (D.D.C. 2007) (allowing a hybrid witness to testify as to “information gained in his role as Executive General Adjuster with respect to the incident in question” but not to “offer his independent opinions regarding causation, or damages assessments made either after litigation commenced or independent of his assessment of damages as a function of his job as an insurance adjuster”).

October 7, 2009

Expert Witness Disclosure Rules Part 2

In Be Alert for the “Hybrid” Witness Editor-in-Chief of Daubert Online Patrick J. Kenny writes:
Courts do not agree on this point. Some hold that a hybrid witness who did not prepare an expert report may testify only as to those matters on which they are testifying as a fact witness. E.g., Bynum v. MVM, Inc., 241 F.R.D. 52, 54 (D.D.C. 2007) (holding that a treating physician “‘may describe what she has seen, describe and explain her diagnosis and the treatment she prescribed’” but without a Rule 26 report “‘a treating physician may not testify as to issues of causation, foreseeability, prognosis, and permanency.’” (further citations omitted)).

Other courts hold that a report under Rule 26 is not required if the witness’s proposed opinion testimony, regardless of its substance, arises solely from the witness’s personal knowledge. E.g., Martin v. CSX Transp., Inc., 215 F.R.D. 554, 557 (S.D. Ind. 2003) (“a physician ‘whose proposed opinion testimony will come from his knowledge acquired as a treating physician, is not someone from whom a Rule 26(a)(2)(B) report is required.’” (further citation omitted)).

October 2, 2009

Expert Witness Disclosure Rules

In Be Alert for the “Hybrid” Witness Editor-in-Chief of Daubert Online Patrick J. Kenny writes:

Though generally straightforward, the expert disclosure provisions of Rule 26 do contain “gray” areas with respect to which counsel should be alert. For instance, parties must disclose the identity of all witnesses they might use at trial to present evidence under Rules 702, 703 or 705 of the Federal Rules of Evidence. Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(a)(2)(A). If such a witness either is retained or specially employed to provide expert testimony, or if the witness’s job duties as a party’s employee regularly involve giving expert testimony, the disclosing party also must provide a written report prepared and signed by the expert containing certain information specified in Rule 26(a)(2)(B). Whether and to what extent the report requirement applies to a non-retained witness who also happens to qualify as an expert on some topic, a so-called “hybrid” witness, is not as clear.

The 1993 Advisory Committee Notes to Rule 26 do not provide much guidance. They note that the report requirement of Rule 26 “applies only to those experts who are retained or specially employed to provide such testimony in the case or whose duties as an employee of a party regularly involve the giving of such testimony.” Id. advisory committee’s notes (subdivision (a)(2)). Thus, a “treating physician, for example, can be deposed or called to testify at trial without any requirement for a written report.” Id. What is not as clear, though, are the topics on which a non-retained witness who otherwise could provide expert opinion testimony (such as a treating physician), but who did not prepare a Rule 26 report, may testify at trial.

August 11, 2009

Daubert As Elegant Process To Qualify Expert Witnesses

In Daubert: Very Convoluted, Usually Confusing to Many, Nevertheless Elegant, Armand Rossetti writes:

Pretrial Daubert hearings are essentially motions in limine that ultimately decide whether an expert is qualified, and whether that expert: 1) has based an opinion on sufficient facts or data; 2) will be able to testify using “reliable principles and methods,” and; 3) has applied the principles and methods reliable to the particular facts of a given case.

The Daubert factors are based Rule 702 of the Federal Rules of Evidence, which is used to examine an expert’s testimony as a whole. In addition under Rule 703, experts may reasonably rely on documents and information that may be inadmissible during trial. It is also Rule 703 that forms the basis for inquiry, concerning the reliability of any data that supports expert testimony. Furthermore, Rule 703 relaxes the requirement that experts need to acquire personal knowledge about the matter to which they testify. Finally, Rule 703 has little to do with whether an expert’s testimony, as a whole, meets Daubert standards. That determination rests with Rule 702.

Since a Rule 702 is more “holistic,” judges acting as gatekeepers should not require each document, or particular source of data that experts might use to form opinions, to be dispositive. In other words, Courts should not be conducting a Daubert inquiry on each and every document and deciding whether or not each document is qualified as being stand-alone reliable.

Excerpted from InjuryBoard.com.

November 10, 2008

Franchising Expert Witnesses & The Daubert Test

Franchise executive Don Sniegowski comments on the franchise case study by attorney Bruce Schaeffer in which Schaeffer concludes that one of the weakest links in franchisee court cases is often their own expert's testimony.

In Challenges to the Admissibility of Expert Financial Testimony, attorney Bruce Schaeffer followed all federal and state cases involving the admissibility of expert financial testimony from 2005 through 2008. He discovered that challenges involving expert witnesses were successful some 57% of the time, meaning that only 43% of of proposed experts were allowed to testify. And, when expert testimony is successfully challenged, it almost always means the franchisee's case will fail.

According to Schaeffer, the key point in a franchise dispute is to prove damages. For that, a franchisee needs an expert. But their proposed witness will never make it to the stand if he cannot get by the Daubert test, named after the U.S. Supreme Court case that determined that for expert testimony to be admissible, it must meet a minimum "threshold" level of credibility, namely:

1. The theory or technique can be tested
2. The expert’s work has been subjected to peer review
3. The rate of error is acceptable
4. The method utilized enjoys widespread acceptance

If franchisees are going to use an expert, which in most cases is a must, they had better have one that can pass the Daubert test. Chances are the weakest link in a franchisee's case is that they cannot prove damages because their expert's testimony does not pass the Daubert test. So the case will never go to jury and will be thrown out of court.

October 13, 2008

Internal Medicine Expert Witness On Daubert

In How the Daubert-Kumho rulings Effects Medical Expert Witnesses, internal medicine expert witness Dr. Perry Hookman writes:

Daubert teaches that one should not just rely on the credentials of the medical expert. The medical expert in Federal court, and increasingly in the State courts, must be more than credible, as evidenced by Board Certification. Testimony must continue to be based on medical knowledge within the physician’s expertise. But whenever possible, the medical expert must currently also support all methodology and opinions with objective documentation and “reliable methodology”. The important questions now are: Has the expert’s theory or technique in question been tested? Has it been subjected to peer review and publication? What is its error rate? Do standards exist? Is there widespread acceptance in the medical community? In summary with what learned treatises from peer reviewed medical publications can the medical expert document and thus support his opinions or theories? The Daubert test applies to all scientific evidence. (509 U.S. at 593,n.11) The Daubert-Joiner-Kumho trilogy has in practice raised the bar for admissibility of expert testimony in every category. Additionally it is difficult if not impossible, for even an experienced medical clinician or practitioner to offer an expert opinion based on technical or specialized knowledge obtained through experience or education alone.

August 22, 2007

Check Expert Witnesses Daubert Record Before Hiring Them

When hiring an expert witness, make sure to allow time to research their background. Waiting until the last minute to hire an expert could be trouble. An important factor is an accurate assessment of an expert’s qualifications history in court. There is compelling statistical evidence to suggest that experts who have been allowed to testify after previous attempts to exclude them (i.e. who have passed “Daubert muster”) are more likely to withstand similar challenges in the future. Just as importantly, knowing the opponent’s expert’s qualification history can be valuable in challenging that expert, or in developing a strategy to attack the expert’s methodology and credibility. The “Daubert Tracker” (available at www.mdexonline.com) is a good place to start. Its primary focus is on the researching of the “evidentiary gatekeeping” history of experts.

April 30, 2007

Recording Industry Expert Challenged

Defendant Marie Lindor, who was sued by the Recording Industry for allegedly infringing on their exclusive rights by downloading, distributing and/or making available for distribution certain sound recordings using an online media distribution system, has moved to exclude the trial testimony of the RIAA's security expert witness, Dr. Doug Jacobson. Ms. Lindor argues that the expert witness' deposition testimony establishes that his trial testimony could not meet the standards for reliability of expert testimony prescribed by Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U. S. 579 (1993) and Federal Rule of Evidence 702.

The interesting letter brief can be read in its entirety here: letter brief

April 2, 2007

Is the Daubert Reliability Test the Most Radical Change in the Law of Evidence?

Given the extreme importance of expert testimony to litigation, is the reliability test for expert testimony set out in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals the most radical and consequential change in the modern law of evidence? Before Daubert, most courts in most circumstances required only that an expert witness be at least marginally qualified to testify on the subject at hand, and that his testimony be relevant to an issue in the case. Many courts applied the general acceptance test set out in Frye to limited categories of scientific evidence, primarily in criminal cases. Even in Frye jurisdictions, generally testimony was allowed in most areas of expertise.

Many argue that the Daubert standard takes the issue of sufficiency of evidence and turns it into issues of admissibility. (See Richard D. Friedman: Squeezing Daubert Out of the Pciture) However, aren't jurors and fact finders wise enough not to be misled by expert's opinions? Those who ask this question would certainly point out that there are not similar reliability standards for lay witnesses, and for other types of evidence.