Commercial Litigation and Arbitration

Inappropriate for Expert to Opine as to State of Mind, Summarize Documents with a “Tilt” or Offer Legal Conclusions — But Testimony as to the Reasonableness of a Party’s Behavior May Be Permissible

From In Re Genetically Modified Rice Litigation, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 98302 (E.D. Mo. Oct. 9, 2002):

Rule 702 permits expert testimony if it "will assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue." Fed. R. Evid. 702. The key inquiries are the (1) factual basis of the opinion, (2) reliability of the method and application, and (3) the relevance of the testimony. Id.; Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharms., Inc., 509 U.S. 579, 592-93 (1993). If an expert is testifying to something within his area of expertise, he may opine as to the reasonableness of a party's behavior. See Wheeling Pittsburgh Steel Corp. v. Beelman River Terminals, Inc., 254 F.3d 706, 715-716 (8th Cir. 2001) (hydrologist was qualified to testify that defendant was "diligent and reasonable" in making judgment about risks of flood, but was not qualified to testify about reasonable warehousing practices). However, it is not appropriate for expert witnesses to draw legal conclusions or opine on a party's state of mind. See Garrett v. Albright, No. 06-CV4137-NKL, 2008 WL 697590, at * 4 (W.D. Mo. Mar. 11, 2008). Expert witnesses must do more than simply summarize documents with a "tilt favoring a litigant." In re Prempro Products Liability Litigation, 554 F. Supp. 2d 871, 887 (E.D. Ark. 2008).

Share this article:


Recent Posts