Friday, December 15, 2006

Trial Court Erred in Countenancing Expert's Novel and Untested Methodology, 6th Circuit Says

In a case involving claims that one model train distributor misappropriated the designs of another, the Sixth Circuit has overturned a $40 million jury verdict, holding that the trial court erred in admitting testimony from an engineering expert whose novel methodology was developed for litigation. "[T]here is no evidence," says the appellate opinion, "that his methodology had ever been tested, subjected to peer review, possessed a known or potential rate of error, or enjoyed general acceptance." In addition, the panel held that under Fed. R. Evid. 703, the expert should not have been permitted to testify, on direct, to findings reached by another analyst. See Mike's Train House, Inc. v. Lionel, L.L.C., No. 05-1095 (6th Cir. Dec. 14, 2006) (Daughtrey, Cole, & Graham, JJ.).


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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.