Expert Witness Testimony Upheld in Mariposa v. Westfalia

The U.S. Court of Appeals, 10th Circuit, affirms lower court ruling on expert witness testimony. In Mariposa Farms, LLC. v. Westfailia-Surge, Inc., 2007 U.S. App. LEXIS 473, Westfalia unsuccessfullly tried to discredit farm equipment expert witness testimony. The higher court found that Dr. Sybren Reitsma’s and Dr. Corbett’s testimony provided the jury with sufficient evidence to find that Westfalia was negligent and breached its warranties.

Mariposa Farms, Inc. filed suit in July 2003 against Westfalia alleging negligence and breach of warranty resulting from the installation and operation of cow-milking equipment manufactured by Westfalia. Mariposa alleged that the equipment malfunction created unstable vacuum pressure, which eventually caused mastitis to spread throughout its herd.
At trial, Mariposa expert witness Dr. Sybren Reitsma testified that, based on photographs and conversations with Mariposa’s principal manager Larry Skelley, it was his expert opinion that the design and installation of Westfalia’s vacuum system caused the unstable vacuum pressure which led to the mastitis outbreak. Another Mariposa expert witness, Dr. Robert Corbett, opined that the milking machine equipment malfunction caused the mastitis spread because, in his experience, the bacteria could not spread as rapidly as it did without the presence of a milking machine malfunction