Court Precludes Expert Testimony in Recent Product Liability Case

Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a personal injury case discussing the admissibility of the plaintiff’s proposed expert-witness testimony. The case raised an important issue that many Florida personal injury plaintiffs face when dealing with concepts that are beyond the scope of the common understanding of jurors and require an expert’s testimony.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff and her infant son were involved in an accident when a northbound semi-truck made a left in front of the plaintiff’s southbound vehicle. The plaintiff’s car crashed into the side of the semi-truck, and became wedged underneath the truck. The plaintiff filed a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer of the trailer, arguing that her injuries were made worse by the fact that the truck did not have a side-underride guard. One of the elements the plaintiffs needed to establish to prove their case was whether there was “an alternative safer design” that was “practical under the circumstances.”

The plaintiff arranged to have two experts testify that, had the manufacturer installed telescoping side-underride guards, her vehicle would not likely have been wedged underneath the truck. While side-underride guards have existed for some time, telescoping side-underride guards have not yet been manufactured and have only been tested through computer simulations. Notably, due to the nature of the accident, the opinion of the plaintiff’s experts was that only a telescoping side-underride guard would have prevented or reduced the plaintiff’s injuries. This was due to the positioning of the truck’s rear axle at the time of the accident.

Upon a motion from the defendant manufacturer, the court precluded the plaintiff’s experts’ testimony based on the fact that the experts’ opinions did not rely on real-world physical prototype testing. The plaintiff appealed.

On appeal, the court affirmed the lower court’s decision to bar the plaintiffs’ expert testimony. The court noted that, while the experts themselves were qualified to testify on general matters regarding underride guards, and both experts’ opinions relied on some computer simulations, neither expert had conducted any actual testing on a telescoping side-underride guard. The court explained that, given the “total absence of real-world, physical-prototype testing and the fact that neither of the experts had designed (let alone built) a telescoping side guard,” the court was proper to grant the defendant’s motion to keep the experts’ testimony out of evidence.

Have You Been Injured in a Florida Semi-Truck Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Florida underride accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a Florida truck accident lawsuit. The dedicated South Florida personal injury lawyers at the law firm of Friedman Rodman & Frank have extensive experience handling all types of Florida truck accident cases, including underride accidents and other claims related to dangerous or defective components. To learn more, call 877-448-8585 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case with an experienced and dedicated attorney with the Florida injury law firm of Friedman Rodman & Frank.

More Blog Posts:

Claims Against Government Employees and Agencies Must Comply with the Requirements of the FTCA, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published August 31, 2018.

Florida Court Dismisses Slip-and-Fall Case, Finding the Hazard Causing the Plaintiff’s Fall Was “Open and Obvious”, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published September 13, 2018.


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