Expert Article Library

Court Finds Evidence of Design Defect Experts Unreliable

Case Name: Brown v. Raymond CorporationClick here for the full text of the case)

Court: United States Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit; on appeal from District Court for the Western District of Tennessee at Memphis

Date: December 21, 2005

Expert: Design Defect Experts. Dr. Michael Romansky, lawyer and industrial engineer; James Driver, experienced forklift operator and trainer

Issues: Did the district court abuse its discretion in excluding the testimony of two of the plaintiff’s experts.

Summary of case: In this product liability case the plaintiff, a forklift operator, sued Raymond, a forklift manufacturer, after being injured in a forklift accident. The plaintiff claimed that the forklift had a design defect and that Raymond had failed to adequately warn of the forklift’s dangers. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant. The plaintiff appealed

Role of the expert: Dr. Romanksy testified that the forklift was unreasonably dangerous due to defective design. Driver testified that the warnings provided by the defendant manufacturer were inadequate

Challenges to the Expert's testimony: The district court excluded Romansky’s testimony as unreliable because Romansky admitted that he was not an expert in forklift design and failed to offer any alternative design to prove his assertion that the Raymond forklift design was defective. The Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s decision to exclude Romansky’s testimony, stressing the importance of experts presenting alternative designs and testing their theories. The district court excluded Driver’s testimony as unreliable on the basis that Driver had failed to suggest or test alternative warnings. The Court of Appeals affirmed

Summary prepared by R. Zapparoni