Product Liability Case Dismissed after Federal Appellate Court Finds that Plaintiff’s Expert Testimony Was Inadmissible

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit recently released an opinion affirming a lower court’s decision that summary judgment should be granted in favor of a defendant in a product liability lawsuit. The case stems from a tragic traffic accident that occurred when a passenger died when he was traveling as a passenger in the back of a vehicle.

Road SignAccording to the court’s written opinion, the vehicle crashed into another vehicle and began spinning, colliding with many nearby objects. Unfortunately, a yield sign was one of the objects that was hit, and the stationary base of the sign was forced underneath the vehicle and cut through the fuel tank. At that point, the fuel tank began to leak. The driver and front passenger were able to safely exit the vehicle; however, the three passengers in the back were not able to escape because the doors would not open. As the passengers were trying to escape, the car became engulfed in flames.

The family of the three passengers killed brought a product liability lawsuit against the car’s manufacturer. They claimed that the design of the car’s fuel tank was faulty and that the company should have taken reasonable steps to design and manufacture a gas tank that would not be prone to explosions after this type of accident. The plaintiffs attempted to produce expert testimony, but the defendants successfully moved to exclude the testimony. As a result, it was determined that the plaintiffs did not have sufficient evidence to raise a genuine issue of material fact.

The plaintiffs appealed this decision to the circuit court, but that court agreed with the lower court, stating that no errors were made in the decision below.

Importance of Expert Testimony in New Mexico Product Liability Cases

In New Mexico, an expert witness is an individual who is qualified in a certain area because of their knowledge, training, skill, education, or expertise in the particular field. Experts are allowed to testify to their opinion or scientific, technical, or specialized knowledge. An expert is intended to help the trier of fact, either a judge or a jury, understand evidence and make determinations regarding the facts of the case.

Expert witnesses are often a necessary part of both parties’ cases. For example, the case above was dismissed because of the inadmissibility of an expert witness. Experts can help plaintiffs educate and convince the trier of fact of a certain pertinent issue in their case. Furthermore, an expert witness can help the trier of fact understand complex jargon that may otherwise go misunderstood.

It is very important to choose a good expert witness. An attorney can assist in vetting and acquiring the appropriate expert witness. The attorney will have the ability to determine the validity of the expert’s opinion and the expert’s history of testifying on certain matters, and the attorney will be able to verify the expert’s credentials.

Have You Been Injured Due to the Faulty Design of a Product?

If you or a loved one has been injured or killed due to a dangerous product, you should contact an attorney at the Fine Law Firm, a preeminent New Mexico personal injury law firm. An attorney at the Fine Law Firm can assist you in determining your rights and remedies and prepare the case for settlement or trial. The attorneys at the Fine Law Firm have years of acquiring and vetting expert witnesses and can make sure that you get an expert who is a good fit for your case. Contact one of the attorneys at the Fine Law Firm today at 800-640-6590 to schedule your initial consultation.

More Blog Posts:

State Court Applies “Discovery Rule” to Reverse Dismissal of Wrongful Death Claim, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, October 12, 2016.

Woman Awarded $1.2 Million Verdict in Grocery Cart Injury Case, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, October 18, 2016.