Blum and Lyons Explore Decision Rejecting Expert Testimony

Shook Partner Joe Blum and Of Counsel John Lyons have authored an article for the Legal Intelligencer discussing a Pennsylvania appeals court's affirmation of a decision rejecting expert testimony because it lacked foundation, instead resting on the principle of res ipsa loquitur.

The decision stemmed from a plaintiff's allegation that an office chair was defective and caused him injury when it broke. The expert's opinion was "res ipsa loquitur dressed up as expert opinion," the trial court and appeals court determined, because it did not assert what defect allegedly caused the incident.

Blum and Lyons conclude, "The Superior Court's decision in Nobles demonstrates the importance of fully exploring both the factual and scientific bases of an expert's opinions, and timely seeking the exclusion of experts whose opinions lack an adequate factual foundation; do not rely on scientific authority; or do not apply the cited scientific authorities to the facts of the case. Litigants should also be alert to 'res ipsa loquitur dressed up as expert opinion,' and develop sufficient evidence to show that the expert's opinion is nothing more than 'inadmissible lay testimony by an expert.'"