Commercial Litigation and Arbitration

Expert Opinion Formed Prematurely (Prior to Significant Discovery) Excluded

From State Farm Fire & Cas. Co. v. Jarden Corp., 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 60327 (S.D. Ind. June 16, 2010):

Defendants' first contention is that Jones's opinions fail to adhere to the scientific method because they did not follow the generally accepted scientific norms set forth in NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) 921, Guide for Fire and Explosion Investigations 921-14 (2004 ed.)***. Defendants also challenge Jones's opinions on the ground that they were formed prematurely, before much of the discovery in this case was conducted. *** According to Defendants, had Jones read the depositions of the homeowners, he would have learned critical information that would have altered his opinions significantly.

Jones's examination consisted of observing the heater and other circumstances surrounding the fire site over the course of three days, a fact which Plaintiff points out in defending this proffered expert's report. It is clear, however, that Jones relied on little more than superficial observation of the heater, and that none of his methods qualify as scientific analysis sufficient to meet the standards of Rule 702.

Furthermore, Defendants point to numerous instances in which Jones admitted that he never subjected his hypotheses to empirical testing, but relied solely on general observation of the circumstances. ***

Because it is unmistakably clear that Jones developed his opinions well before the facts underpinning this case were developed, and because those opinions were formed without sufficient reliance upon the scientific method and an adequate analysis of the data and circumstances of the fire in this case, Jones's opinions must be deemed unreliable and thus inadmissible as expert testimony.

Share this article:


Recent Posts