Expert Article Library

Testimony may stand although physical evidence has been discarded

Case Name: One Beacon Ins. Co. v. Broadcast Dev. Group

Court: Eastern District of Kentucky at Lexington; U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (http://www.ca6.uscourts.gov/opinions.pdf/05a0758n-06.pdf)

Date: August 29, 2005

Experts: Metallurgist, Structural Engineer, Tower Design. Richard Roberts, metallurgist; Dr. Joseph Vellozzi, a tower design expert; Ernie Jones, a licensed structural engineer.

Issues: If expert witnesses have not examined physical evidence directly because it has been discarded before trial, is their testimony still admissible?

Summary of case: One Beacon was the insurer of Broadcast Development Group (“BDG”), the builder of a broadcast tower that collapsed during construction. One Beacon claimed that BDG was responsible for the collapse and thus refused to pay for the damage.

Role of the experts: The three expert witnesses who testified for BDG at trial agreed that the manufacturing procedure used by BDG’s subcontractor was incorrect and that the welds on subassemblies received by BDG were not strong enough.

Expert analysis: Before trial, all wreckage from the collapsed tower had been discarded by BDG’s subcontractor of welded and other parts. On appeal, One Beacon argued that the fact that BDG’s experts had been unable to examine the specific welds that had failed undermined the significance of their testimony and that this should have been excluded.

The Court of Appeal held that even though the impact of the testimony of BDG’s experts was reduced due to their failure to examine the welds first-hand, this did not render their testimony inadmissible.

Summary prepared by M. Dellinger, Student, Golden Gate University School of Law