Florida Court Discusses Admission of Expert Testimony in Product Liability Cases

Dangerous devices injure people throughout Florida daily. In many instances, the injured party will pursue a product liability claim against the manufacturer of the product. Usually, a plaintiff alleging a product was unreasonably dangerous must produce expert testimony in support of the assertion. A proposed expert must have certain qualifications, though, otherwise, he or she may be precluded from testifying. This was demonstrated in a recent Florida opinion in which the court discussed the admission of expert testimony in product liability cases. If you were hurt by a dangerous product, you could be owed damages, and it is advisable to meet with a skillful Florida product liability attorney to assess your options.

The Plaintiff’s Harm

It is reported that the plaintiff was operating a forklift manufactured by the defendant. The forklift had an open area that allowed for entry and exit without a door. Additionally, it was operated by holding the brake pedal down. The plaintiff lost control and collided with the end of the storage rack. His leg was crushed between the forklift and the rack, and he sustained severe injuries.

Allegedly, the plaintiff then filed a product liability lawsuit against the defendant, arguing that the design of the forklift was defective and that reasonable alternative safer designs were available. Specifically, they argued that the forklift should have a barrier that prevented a person’s leg from leaving the body of the forklift during operation and two brake pedals, one of which was for emergency braking. Following discovery, the defendant moved to preclude the plaintiff’s experts from testifying. The motions were ultimately denied in part and granted in part.

Admission of Expert Testimony in Product Liability Cases

Pursuant to Federal Rule of Evidence 702, proposed expert testimony must be screened to determine whether it is reliable and relevant. Under the Rule, expert testimony will not be admitted unless an expert is qualified to testify in a competent manner regarding the issues he or she intends to discuss and the method the expert used to reach his or her conclusion is adequately reliable. Further, the testimony in question must help the trier of fact in determining a fact in issue due to the application of technical, scientific, or specialized knowledge.

A court must consider the circumstances of the case when determining whether the proposed testimony is reliable. Further, the party seeking to admit the testimony must prove that it is competent by a preponderance of the evidence. The court noted that motions regarding the admission of testimony should be presented and ruled on at trial, in conjunction with live testimony, not through the filing of a motion.

Speak to a Skillful Florida Attorney

Dangerous products can cause devastating harm, and companies that fail to ensure their products are safe must be held accountable. If you were hurt by a defective product, the skillful Florida product liability attorneys of Lusk, Drasites & Tolisano, P.A. can gather the facts and evidence needed to help you to seek the best legal outcome available under the facts of your case. You can contact us at 800-283-7442 or through the form online to schedule a conference.

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