Friday, August 15, 2003

Eighth Circuit Upholds Exclusion of Design Defect Testimony

Engineers testifying to design defects in forklifts and similar devices often meet an unhappy fate. The Eighth Circuit has contributed to this trend, upholding the exclusion of testimony from an engineer who opined that a stand-up lift truck should have incorporated safety restraints and/or warnings. The appellate courts seem particularly keen on the idea that engineers should actually ride these things, before criticizing their design -- a concept that enjoys far less currency in defective design suits involving other vehicles (e.g., automobiles).

A synopsis of the decision in Anderson v. Raymond Corp., No. 02-3393 (8th Cir. Aug. 13, 2003) (Bowman, Riley & Melloy, JJ.), and a link to the opinion, can be found here.
Fed. R. Evid. 702: If scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue, a witness qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education, may testify thereto in the form of an opinion or otherwise, if (1) the testimony is based upon sufficient facts or data, (2) the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods, and (3) the witness has applied the principles and methods reliably to the facts of the case.