Friday, July 30, 2004

6th Circuit Reverses Exclusion of Rescuer Testimony

The facts: Man jumps or falls from bridge into river. County threatens divers from private rescue service with arrest if they attempt rescue, but county allegedly undertakes no meaningful alternative rescue effort of its own. Man drowns. Survivors sue county.

Plaintiff's proffered expert testimony: County did not attempt a meaningful rescue operation and impeded a potentially successful operation by the private rescue service.

The trial court's core rationale for excluding the proffered evidence: There is no requirement that the county undertake a perfect rescue operation, but only that it afford a meaningful alternative to private rescue.

The Sixth Circuit's core rationale for reversing: Plaintiffs "offered testimony that several aspects of the county's response to the ... drowning suggested the county was not, in fact, engaged in a rescue operation at all, but only in a body recovery operation. This would obviously fall short of being a meaningful alternative to rescue."

See Beck v. Manistee County, No. 01-2723 (6th Cir. July 29, 2004) (Boggs, Gilman, & Marbley, JJ.).


Post a Comment

<< Home

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.