Saturday, November 15, 2003

Third Circuit Affirms Exclusion of Engineering Testimony in Products Case

In a nonprecedential opinion, the Third Circuit has affirmed the trial court's exclusion of testimony from an expert who opined that a circular saw was defective in design because it possessed no power brake. The expert's testimony was based on tests, performed years ago, in which he cranked up power saws to full speed and then timed, with his stopwatch, how long they took to stop. He had maintained no records of the tests. According to the Third Circuit, he also failed to conduct a risk/utility analysis, and did not address, except by unscientific and anecdotal methods, the potential negative safety consequences of power brakes. See Cuffari v. S-B Power Tool Co., No. 02-3763 (3d Cir. Nov. 7, 2003) (McKee, Smith, & Fuller, JJ.).
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.