ST. PAUL, Minn. — In a trial for a couple’s product liability claims against a ladder company that “centered on competing expert testimony,” an expert for the couple was sufficiently qualified and used a reliable method to opine that a ladder was designed unsafely, the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Aug. 29 in affirming a $2.4 million verdict for the couple (Jeffrey Klingenberg, at al. v. Vulcan Ladder USA, LLC, et al., No. 18-1742, 8th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 26216).
TRENTON, N.J. — An expert’s testimony that contaminated groundwater containing the gasoline additive methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) traveled from the site of a gas station with underground storage tanks (USTs) to domestic water supply wells is reliable because it is based on sound methodology, a federal judge in New Jersey ruled Aug. 28 in denying three defendant companies’ motions to exclude the expert’s opinions under Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993) (New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection v. Amerada Hess Corp., et al., No. 15-6468, D. N.J., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 146336).
NEW HAVEN, Conn. — After determining that opinions by an expert in psychiatry on the harmfulness of solitary confinement were reliable, a Connecticut federal judge on Aug. 27 held that the state has violated the constitutional rights of a man who has been locked up mostly alone for 23 years for killing a police officer (Richard Reynolds v. Leo Arnone, et al., No. 3:13-cv-1465, D. Conn., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 145314).
MIAMI — Health care providers’ challenges to expert testimony linking a prisoner’s sepsis and the subsequent amputation of his legs to substandard care fail due to “conclusory” and “unpersuasive” arguments, a Florida federal magistrate judge ruled Aug. 27 in denying the providers’ bid to exclude the testimony from trial (Craig Salvani v. Corizon Health, Inc., et al., No. 17-24567, S.D. Fla., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 144963).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A federal trial court’s improper admission of several doctors’ expert opinions in a health care fraud case against an Ohio cardiologist warrants review by the U.S. Supreme Court, the heart doctor — who was convicted by a jury — tells the high court in an Aug. 14 petition for a writ of certiorari (Harold Persaud v United States, No. 19-216, U.S. Sup., 2019 U.S. S. Ct. Briefs LEXIS 3330).
PORTLAND, Ore. — A divided Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Aug. 19 affirmed denial of habeas relief for a man seeking to overturn his conviction for sexual abuse of his daughter after she recanted her testimony more than seven years after his trial, finding in part that his new expert testimony was not new at all and had already been heard by the jury (Fredrick Earl Bain v. Sid Thompson, et al., No. 18-35683, 9th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 24646).
CHICAGO — A federal judge in Illinois on Aug. 22 for a second time denied certification to a class of female employees who sued Ford Motor Co. for failing to address what they allege is a working environment riddled with harassment and even sexual assaults, citing problems with the plaintiffs’ showing of hostile employment conditions and issues with handling the claims on a classwide basis (Christie Van, et al. v. Ford Motor Company, No. 14-8708, N.D. Ill., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 143071).
TOPEKA, Kan. — A federal judge in Kansas on Aug. 13 barred a couple’s expert’s opinions regarding the legality of prepayment penalties under Kanas law and usurious interest rates, holding that the testimony is no longer relevant to their claims against a lender who refinanced the mortgage on their home (Randall A. Schneider, et al. v. CitiMortgage Inc., et al., No. 13-cv-4094-HLT, D. Kan., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 136250).
TACOMA, Wash. — A Washington federal judge on Aug. 16 excluded the testimony of a biomechanics expert for Olympia, Wash., and one of the city’s police officers in a civil rights case brought against them by two black brothers the officer shot during an attempted arrest, saying the expert’s use of 3-D images based only on the officer’s recollection is unreliable (Andre Thompson, et al. v. Olympia, et al., No. 3:18-cv-05267, W.D. Wash., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 139202).
NEW ORLEANS — The Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on July 8 affirmed the allowance of expert testimony in a mortgage fraud case that resulted in a nearly $300 million judgment against a businessman and his companies after finding that the trial judge properly vetted the experts’ opinions and sufficiently explained his rationale for doing so (United States v. Jim C. Hodge, et al., No. 17-20720, 5th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 23715).
DETROIT — A divided Michigan appeals court on July 25 said a trial court correctly refused to rule in favor of a gastroenterologist who was sued over a woman’s death from colorectal bleeding, affirming that questions remain about whether biopsies taken during a colonoscopy caused the bleeding (Estate of Effie Taylor v. University Physician Group, et al., No. 338801, Mich. App., 2019 Mich. App. LEXIS 4203).
CHICAGO — A federal court properly dismissed a severely injured couple’s product liability claims against a motorcycle helmet company for lack of expert testimony and correctly excluded their expert witnesses for claims against the motorcycle maker and a tire company, the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals decided Aug. 6 (Donald N. Timm, et al. v. Goodyear Dunlop Tires North America, Ltd., et al., No. 18-2641, 7th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 23448).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — An expert’s testimony regarding testing he performed that found asbestos in talc and in a victim’s lung tissue is unreliable and must be excluded, a federal judge in the District of Columbia said Aug. 5 (Brian Jackson, et al. v. Colgate-Palmolive Co., No. 15-1066, D. D.C., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 131298).
PHOENIX — Testimony from an attorney with experience in legal fields related to construction-related insurance claims “passes muster” under Federal Rule of Evidence 702, a federal judge in Arizona ruled Aug. 2, denying an insurer’s motion to preclude the expert testimony in its dispute with contractors over repairs to water damage (Adams Craig Acquisitions LLC, et al. v. Atain Specialty Insurance Co., et al., No. 18-00817, D. Ariz., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 129537).
NEW YORK — A lack of reliability dooms a mental health expert’s opinion that a hospital’s discrimination against an employee caused her to develop depression and anxiety, so the question of whether the expert should be excluded because of a possible bias need not be answered, a New York federal judge held Aug. 2 (Aigner El Ansari v. Bridget Graham, et al., No. 1:17-cv-3963, S.D. N.Y., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 129997).
NEW YORK — A federal court properly excluded expert testimony in a suit over failed sewage treatment plant pumps for lack of a sound methodology and then correctly tossed a city authority’s product liability claims because expert testimony is needed for such a claim, the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals decided July 30 (Norwalk Water Pollution Control Authority v. Flowserve US, Inc., No. 18-1288, 2nd Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 22512).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court should deny a request by an ex-employee asserting a retaliatory discharge claim against brokerage companies to grant review of lower courts’ exclusion of her expert witness because “further review on this fact-bound, splitless, and correct conclusion is unnecessary,” the companies tell the high court justices in their July 29 response (Jackie Hosang Lawson v. FMR LLC, et al., No. 19-2, U.S. Sup., 2019 U.S. S. Ct. Briefs LEXIS 2904).
ST. LOUIS — Physical testing at the scene of a fire that destroyed a building was not required for an insurer’s expert witnesses to opine on when the blaze started, the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of appeals ruled Aug. 1 in affirming denial of a new trial for a Missouri couple (Allstate Indemnity Company v. Joseph Dixon, et al., No. 18-1948, 8th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 23021).
PASADENA, Calif. — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on July 25 affirmed the income tax fraud conviction of a California businessman after finding that the trial court properly excluded the opinions of the defendant’s accounting expert as irrelevant (United States v. Walter Daniel Prezioso, No. 18-50056, 9th Cir.., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 22221).
ST. LOUIS — Fourteen years ago, the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals upheld admittance of a federal agent’s expert opinion that drug dealers would not give 5 kilograms of cocaine to someone to deliver who did not know what he was transporting. The same testimony by the same expert to rebut a woman’s “unknown courier defense” received the court’s imprimatur again in a July 18 per curiam opinion that relies on the earlier decision (United States v. Adriana Gutierrez-Ramirez, No. 18-2270, 8th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 21302).