Expert Article Library

Products Liability Expert

Case Name: Massok V. Keller Industries, 147 Fed. Appx. 651 (Unpublished)

Court: U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit

Date: September 1, 2005

Expert: Product Liability. Forensics. David Paul, forensics expert with a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering and extensive experience in analyzing ladder slip-out cases.

Issues: Whether the district court erred in excluding some of appellant’s evidence, determining that he was not entitled to a jury trial, and granting judgment to the manufacturer as a matter of law.

Summary of case: Appellant, who was injured when he fell from a ladder, brought a products liability action in state court against defendants, the manufacturer and related companies. After the action was removed, the district court excluded some of plaintiff's evidence, determined that plaintiff was not entitled to a jury trial, and granted judgment to the manufacturer as a matter of law.

Role of the expert: Paul analyzed the ladder's design and the causes of Massok's fall. According to his testimony, the ladder's design prevented its feet from resting squarely on the ground when set up backwards and that this design defect lead the cleats to shear off and the feet to slip out.

Challenges to the Expert's testimony: Defendant motioned to strike (and the court granted the motion) Paul’s district court trial testimony on the grounds that Paul was not qualified to testify as an expert and that his testimony was inadmissible under Daubert. The appellate court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that plaintiff's expert was not qualified because, inter alia, the expert was not a Ph.D and did not test any loads on plaintiff's ladder; and the manufacturer's brochure and photographs of similarly damaged ladders should have been admitted because they were relevant to foreseeability. The court reversed the judgment as a matter of law and the denial of appellant’s demand for a jury trial, and it remanded the case.

Summary prepared by W. McLennan, Student, U.C. Hastings College of the Law