Expert Article Library

Case Name: Zenith Electronics Corp. v. WH-TV Broadcasting Corp. (http://www.ca7.uscourts.gov/fdocs/docs.fwx?submit=showbr&shofile=04-1635_037.pdf)

Court: United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit; on appeal from the Northern District of Illinois

Date: January 20, 2005

Expert: Economic Consulting. Peter Shapiro

Issues: Whether expert witnesses can merely rely on their expertise, subjective beliefs or intuition, and C.V. when they testify in court.

Summary of case: The TV station WH-TV sought to expand its market share in Puerto Rico and bought certain electronic devices from Zenith Electronics. However, Zenith’s devices did not work with the most recent version of a certain TV standard causing WH TV to lose business and customer base. In return, Zenith filed suit to collect unpaid bills for the disputed product. Broadcaster filed a counterclaim for to recover profits it says it lost because of Zenith’s allegedly defective merchandise.

Role of the expert: Mr. Shapiro testified for the broadcaster, WH-TV.

Expert analysis: Mr. Shapiro planned to testify that if the devices had met the newest TV standards, WH-TV would have experienced rapid and dramatic growth. However, he did not base his calculations on competitors’ actual sales, calculate the potential TV subscriber base or use data from comparable markets. Instead, he insisted that each market is unique, including Puerto Rico, and relied on his “expertise, awareness and curriculum vitae”.

The district court found that such reliance on intuition and CV is not sufficient when an expert testifies in court. An expert must use reliable principles and methods for his/her analyses. Expert’s failure to look outside San Juan for other comparable markets meant that he lacked sufficient facts. The Court of Appeals agreed and added that “expert intuition” is neither normal among scientists nor testable, and thus cannot be used in court.

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