Expert Article Library

Expert Testimony About Injuries Must Consider All Possible Causes

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

Court: United States Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit

Date: January 6, 2006

Expert: Football Expert. Kent Falb, former head athletic trainer for the Detroit Lions

Issues: Whether Falb’s testimony regarding Plaintiff’s shoulder injury sustained during a college football scrimmage was admissible.

Summary of case: Plaintiff was a college football player who sustained a broken scapula during a football scrimmage. The scapula needed extensive surgical repair. The injury permanently affected Plaintiff’s range of motion in that arm and his ability to lift heavy objects. Plaintiff sued Defendant, the manufacturer of his shoulder pads, for negligence, alleging the pads were “inadequate, inappropriate, [and] too small.” One of Defendant’s agents had fitted Plaintiff with the pads two weeks before the scrimmage.

Role of the expert: Falb testified that impacts to the front and the side of Plaintiff’s shoulder, areas that were covered by the pads, caused the scapula injury.

Challenges to the Expert's testimony: The court ruled that Falb’s testimony was inadmissible because “Falb's methods for forming his opinion did not allow him to rule out this potential alternate cause with any degree of precision.” The court held that Falb’s method of analyzing the videotape of the injury did not take into account that the scapula might have been broken by a blow to an area not covered by even correctly-fitted pads. The court ruled Falb’s testimony unreliable and thus inadmissible.

Summary prepared by C. Wood, Student, University of California, Hastings College of the Law