Expert Article Library
Window Kills Man in Ford Truck
Case Name: Maxwell v. Ford Motor Co. (http://www.ca5.uscourts.gov/opinions/unpub/04/04-60803.0.wpd.pdf)
(NOTE: unpublished case)
Court: Northern District of West Virginia;
Date: December 28, 2005
Type of Expert: Donald Phillips, auto glass design
Issue: 1) Can court disallow expert due to questions of objectivity?
2) Can court allow testimony of expert based on statistics that would on their own be ruled inadmissible?
Summary of case: Plaintiff (drivers wife) sued Defendant truck maker claimingthat the windows were defectively designed and allowed driver to be partially ejected, causing his death.
Role of the expert: Two experts:
1) Plaintiffs expert, Donald Phillips, claimed the glass was defective, but the trial court questioned his objectivity and disallowed his testimony.
2) Trial court allowed Defendants expert testimony (Robert Rucoba), which relied on government statistics for its conclusions.
Expert analysis: (1) Defendant claimed trial court abused its discretion in disallowing its expert testimony. Court of Appeals ruled that disallowing Plaintiffs expert testimony was okay because court has great leeway in determining reliability of experts.
(2)Defendant argued that use of government statistics wouldnt be admissible as evidence, so Plaintiff expert testimony should be disallowed. Court of Appeals ruled Defendants expert testimony was admissible because other experts in the field also use government statistics and therefore its reasonably reliable data. Even though the data may not be admissible in court on its own, experts can use it to make informed conclusions.
Summary prepared by J. Baik, Student, University of San Francisco School of Law