Articles Posted in Expert Witness News

Summary: Mechanical Engineering Expert Witness not allowed to testify in step stool product liability claim even though the judge ruled that he is qualified to provide testimony.

Facts:  This case (Brosius v. The Home Depot Inc. et al – United States District Court – Middle District of Florida – February 7th, 2022) involves a product liability claim.  Plaintiff Beverly Brosius claims that she suffered injuries while using a HBPRO3-15 step stool branded as a Gorilla Ladders Step Stool.  Brosius says that she fell from the step stool while replacing a “shade sail”, which covers her back patio, dislocating her left knee and fracturing her left tibia plateau. In order to prove her case, Brosius hired Mechanical Engineering Expert Witness John S. Morse, Ph.D., P.E. to provide expert testimony on her behalf.  Defendant Home Depot has filed a motion to exclude Dr. Morse from providing testimony.

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A Florida jury awards $5.6 million for a spinal cord injury sustained during an alcohol-fueled pool party at the Retreat in Gainesville. According to the Complaint, the Defendant, Retreat at Gainesville, LLC, hosted a St. Patrick’s Day event and provided free beer at the Retreat on March 17, 2017.

Massey was not asked or identification when he arrived at the pool party, Although he was underage, Retreat employees encouraged him to consume beer from unmanned kegs placed around the pool.

Witnesses testified that underage drinking was common at The Retreat Gainesville pool parties. Despite warnings to management by a community ambassador, nothing was done to control or monitor underage drinking during the pool parties. Testimony revealed employee focus was limited to prohibiting glass in the pool area rather than curtailing underage drinking.

The new strain of coronavirus was officially named “COVID-19” on the February 11, 2020 by the World Health Organization (WHO).  Since that time, the transmission of the virus has altered virtually all aspects of public life.  This disruption may eventually lead to usual court, dispute resolution, and arbitration processes to become less practical because of public health measures put in place to contain the spread of the virus.

Because of the coronavirus, expert witnesses may be forced to testify by video conferencing.  This could likely be done at the deposition stage.  Although video taping of expert depositions is commonplace, it may become the rule rather than the exception to limit social interaction.  If the expert deposition will be videotaped, counsel should remind their expert about their facial expressions, and their tone.  It should also be noted that in this time of video posting, counsel should consider obtaining a protective order to prevent the video deposition from being posted on the Internet. See Paisley Park Enters. v. Uptown Prods., 54 F. Supp. 2d 347 (S.D. N.Y. 1999) (where the court ordered strict limits on the dissemination of the video deposition of musician Prince.)

On Wednesday, July 25, 2018 at 1:00 p.m. EST, the Expert Witness Exchange will present a free webinar entitled “Strategies of the Most Effective Expert Witness.”   The webinar is hosted by Michael Kaplan, who has 39 years of experience in the expert witness industry.

The webinar is part of Mr. Kaplan’s Courtroom Boot Camp, which consists of eight one-hour long webinars.  There are six remaining in the series.  The primary goal of these webinars is to provide expert witnesses with strategies on how to best articulate their “complex professional, technical, and scientific opinions and concepts to juries of non-experts.”

For more information on the webinars, and to sign up, please click here: Expert Witness Exchange Courtroom Bootcamp Webinar Series.

The court in a high-profile 45 year old Cook County Illinois murder case ruled that  payment for a Pathology Expert Witness could come fro a defendant’s bond.

The Chicago Tribune reports that the defendant who is accused of first degree murder can to withdraw money from his $400,000 bond fund in order to pay for an expert witness at his upcoming trial.

Donnie Rudd, who is now 76, was once a prominent Illinois attorney.  Now Rudd is charged with murdering his wife for insurance money in 1973.  The state alleges that Rudd staged an auto accident to cover the murder.  His wife Noreen Kumeta Rudd was nineteen years old at the time.

Plumbing and HVAC Expert Witness Russell Keeler of Chason Energy commented on an assignment involving PEX (cross-linked polyethylene) tubing:

“PEX was installed in a residence, and when the water was turned on, it was found that the domestic water was unusable, as the water was blue, caustic and toxic.  My investigation disclosed that the cause of the problem was a combination of brass fittings (an alloy of copper and zinc) and water with a high pH.  The high pH caused the zinc to go into solution as zinc hydroxide.  While the pH does not directly attack the copper, some copper goes into solution and creates copper hydroxide.  Copper hydroxide is blue, caustic and toxic.  The solution to the problem was to treat the incoming water, as it was too expensive to replace the fittings.”

In The New Frontier of Negative Rates and Banking, business expert witness Douglas E. Johnston writes:

How Are Other Financial Institutions Responding to Ultra Low and Negative Rates?

Eurofi, a European-based think tank chaired by former IMF Director Jacques de Larosiere which carries the support of ECB President Mario Draghi, has the stated goal of ‘fostering growth in a highly indebted EU environment.’ In remarks prepared for the April 23-25 Eurofi High-Level Seminar and delivered on behalf of the Basel-based Bank for International Settlements (often known as the central banks’ central bank), 20-year BIS veteran and Deputy General Manager Herve Hannoun recently addressed the growing phenomenon of negative interest rates among a ‘Who’s Who’ of central bankers, international banks, insurance companies, financial market makers, rating agencies and regulators. Eurofi’s many activities have included the pursuit of a possible new Capital Markets Union (CMU) under the recent leadership of Lord Hill of London. Among its initiatives, Eurofi is addressing the technological and regulatory framework for new growth-oriented lending and capital market mechanisms across Europe. Given the recent emergence of crowd-funding, P2P (Peer-to-Peer) financial activities, and promising new technology and delivery platforms, one possibility before Eurofi is to reconsider the traditional role of how commercial banks have functioned as intermediaries between depositors and business borrowers. With negative rates, the linkage between expanded business lending activity, increased monetary velocity and broad economic growth now appears clearly to be a higher priority for European central banks and regulators.

On June 4, 2015, the Forensic Expert Witness Association (FEWA) will present the webinar Lawyers and Experts: Beware of Daubert, Robinson, and Kuhmo in 2015.

The presentation will be an in-depth review of motions to strike. Topics that will be covered include the following:

Motion to strike actual filing Expert’s affidavit in response to motion to strike Examples of over 25 actual motions to strike and subsequent rulings 2015 update on Daubert, Robinson and Kuhmo

In The New Frontier of Negative Rates and Banking, business expert witness Douglas E. Johnston writes:

While financial market observers in the US remain focused on the timing and magnitude of the Fed raising target interest rates over the months ahead, European bond markets have begun to experience just the opposite – the never-before-seen phenomenon of actual negative bond market interest rates. Since the Global Crisis of 2008, which saw both the Fed and foreign central bankers seeking both to calm markets and to encourage growth by reducing rates to the ‘zero bound,’ interest rates for bellwether German bonds and across Europe in late 2014 crossed into negative territory, and for the first time in world history. As noted recently by iconic market veteran Art Cashin, now Director of NYSE Floor Operations for UBS Financial Services, over 30% (approximately $2.2 Trillion) of the highest-rated sovereign debt in Europe now bears a stated negative interest rate. Over 70% of all German government bonds now carry negative stated rates, and there are indications these conditions may become even more wide-ranging and spill over to US markets. After more than six years of various central bank ‘Quantitative Easing’ (QE) stimulus programs including scheduled open-market bond purchases, negative interest rates now clearly constitute the ‘new frontier’ of central bank monetary policy. Numerous other policy implications regarding negative rates are still unfolding in an uncharted scenario, which even the founder of modern monetary theory, John Maynard Keynes, did not foresee.

In an environment of ultra-low and negative rates, non-interest-bearing asset classes including commodities should become more attractive. Therefore, one major historical disincentive to buying oil and gold, for example, may have been removed. Stated differently, increasingly negative interest rates should be positive for commodities, because the imbedded math suggests that an investor is effectively paid to hold them, as compared to holding negative-rate financial instruments.

Slip, trip and fall expert witnesses may testify and provide reports regarding railings, barriers, slip and fall accidents, slippery conditions, stairs, and more. Architect and expert witness Randy Atlas is presenting the CEU program Slips, Trips, and Falls: The Architect’s Role in Mayhem on May 20th in Pembroke, Pines FL. Mr. Atlas is the President/Owner of Atlas Safety & Security Design. Sponsored by AIA Fort Lauderdale, the program description is as follows:

Have you ever been brought into a lawsuit as a result of a slip and fall at one of the building’s you designed? Randy Atlas, President and Owner of Atlas Safety & Security Design, will show you how to reduce the opportunity for mishaps in your designs in such areas as level changes and miscommunications in pedestrian path of travel. He will also go over the consequences of careless design with case studies of projects where mistakes led to litigation.

More information here.