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Bogus experts, cont'd

The other day we linked to a post by David Bernstein at Volokh Conspiracy soliciting examples of bogus experts and spurious forms of expertise. The post called forth many interesting comments, among them these from Brian G. (Tomfoolery of the Highest Order), beginning thus:

I work at a civil defense firm. How about I forward you the deposition testimony of just about every expert I have come across? That should give you enough material for a year or so. My favorite is the "expert" on the effect of the lack of warning labels a Plaintiff used in an automobile accident case. According to him, because the intersection did not adequately warn motorists that traffic would cross in front of them when the light was red, and because the interior of the automobile did not contain warning stickers that adequately warned the operator of an automobile that the failure to apply the brakes in the face of oncoming traffic, Plaintiff could not be considered contributorily negligent for running the red light in his "expert opinion." Anyone involved in civil defense knows this happens all the time, and most everyone here could probably come up with an example even more sillier that this one.

And following with this:

One more example to share. An "expert" on "elder health" once said that a woman's medical condition could not have been caused by her lack of estrogen in certain areas and there was no evidence that would suggest to him that the decedent was post-menopausal. The decedent was 91 years old.

You can get an expert to tell you that there is no evidence proving or indicating that Julius Caesar is actually dead if you pay him or her $400 an hour.

And, finally, this:

OK, just one more. We deposed an "expert" who billed himself as an "accident reconstructionist." He said that his investigation concluded that Defendant was cause of the accident, and not the Plaintiff. Here is a summary of his analysis. (If I was at the office, I'd write it word for word)

"In reaching this conclusion, I give no weight to the testimony and statements of [named eyewitnesses]. Witness are often incorrect as to what they witness when a traumautic accident happens, and the trauma tends to make witnesses think they saw something they did not. Instead, according to my calculations of the tire tread marks (taken about 6 months after the accident!), the trajectory of the Defendant's vehicle in relation to the Plaintiff's vehicle as diagrammed in the police report, the directional angle of the sun at that time of day, the Plaintiff's deposition, and the deposition testimony of [ambulance driver who testifed to what the Plaintiff told him], it is clear that Defendant was the sole cause of the accident."

At the settlement conference, the federal judge told Plaintiff's counsel that if we were to file a Daubert motion, all we would have to do is write that Defendant moves to exclude and attach his report and it would be granted. And, if that is all he had to show liability on behalf the Plaintiff, he'd better settle for whatever he can get that day because Plaintiff would get nothing, either on an MSJ or at trial.

Plaintiff initially demanded the policy limits of $500,000. He got $6,000, only for nuisance value. Wonder how much of that went to this "expert."



Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.