Expert Article Library

Expert Required in Medical Manufacturing Defect Case

Case Name: White v. Howmedica, Inc. (Click here for the full text of the case)

Court: 8th Circuit Court of Appeals

Date: June 26, 2007

Expert: Medical General Practitioner. Dr. Stephen Noel, M.D.

Issue: Whether the plaintiff’s failure to designate an expert by the deadline was fatal in this manufacturing defect case?

Summary of case: Plaintiff was troubled with his prosthetic knee for 6 years. Dr. Noel performed exploratory surgery and discovered that the prosthesis had fragmented. Plaintiff brings product liability suit claiming a manufacturing defect.

Role of the expert: Dr. Stephen Noel was to testify that the malfunctioning prosthetic knee was caused by a manufacturing defect. He was originally listed as a non-expert witness, but when the plaintiffs failed to designate an expert in the required amount of time, they offered Noel’s affidavit regarding the defect, and argued that this is a case where the defect would be obvious to a layman.

Challenges to the Expert's testimony: The defense moved for summary judgment when the plaintiff’s failed to designate an expert by the date required by the court. Although the plaintiffs submitted an affidavit by Noel relating to the manufacturing defect, it was too late to designate him as an expert. The Court of Appeal held that the layperson exception did not apply here, as the issue of a manufacturing defect in a prosthetic knee required actual expert testimony. The Court of Appeals held that the District Court did not abuse its discretion in excluding Noel’s affidavit and granting summary judgment to the defense.

Summary prepared by M. Lanzone, Student, University of California, Hastings College of Law