Last time, we began looking at the use of expert testimony in toxic tort litigation. As we noted, expert testimony may be necessary to establish the scientific and biological aspects of liability. As we noted last time, expert witnesses cannot just be anybody that claims expertise, but they must be qualified and approved by the court in toxic tort litigation.
In some cases, expert witnesses are disqualified from a case and this can negatively impact their reputation and employability, including their ability to serve as an expert witness in future cases. The ability of an expert to recover from disqualification as a witness at trial depends, to an extent, on the reasons for disqualification. It also depends on whether the expert’s testimony was partially or fully excluded.
When hiring an expert witness, it is important for a plaintiff’s attorney to consider whether the expert’s testimony has ever been excluded from trial, what grounds there were for the exclusion and whether the testimony was partially or totally excluded. The expert’s education and background are also important to consider.
Not that a previous exclusion is necessarily a bad thing. In some toxic tort cases, it can prompt an expert to seek more education or experience, or to improve the methodology by which the expert makes judgments in his or her area of expertise. It is important, though, to take extra care when an expert has had his or her testimony excluded from trial on multiple occasions.
We’ll pick back up on this topic in our next post.