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December 23, 2014 |


Late last week, an opinion of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit reversed a lower court’s decision favoring the defendant, Home Depot. Apparently, in 2008 a son was in the process of building a cabin home for his parents. The son’s parents bought a ladder from Home Depot so that their son could work on the roof of the cabin. The first time the son used the ladder, he was in the process of fixing the rafters of the house when the ladder collapsed.

Unfortunately, the son fell right onto the ladder and severely injured his groin, shoulder, and penis. Following the accident, doctors diagnosed the son with Peyronie’s disease, which is an extremely painful disease that causes extreme discomfort during sexual intercourse. The family brought a products liability suit against Home Depot and Tricam Industries, the manufacturer of the ladder. They called an expert witness to testify that the ladder was defective; but the Judge found that the expert did not prove causation.

The family appealed, and the Seventh Circuit reversed the ruling. The Seventh Circuit found that the expert’s testimony was actually valid, since it assisted the jury in determining the facts at issue.

Expert Witnesses in Illinois

States follow one of two standards when determining whether an expert witness’ testimony is valid: the Frye standard or the Daubert standard. Illinois is one of the few states that still follow the Frye standard. The Frye standard basically uses the standard of general acceptance. This means that the testimony of an expert opinion must use a scientific method that is generally accepted by the relevant community.

Cases that are brought in Federal Court must abide by the Federal Rules of Evidence, but Illinois state courts still use the Frye standard. In the above case, the expert created an accident report and was questioned by the judge regarding his opinion on how the fall occurred. The judge found that the plaintiff’s testimony did not meet the expert’s opinion and ruled against the plaintiff. When the case was taken to an appellate court, the judge found that the expert should have been allowed to present alternate theories to explain his professional conclusions.

Expert testimony is often crucial to the outcome of a case, and it is extremely important. In most cases, it is necessary that these experts are vetted thoroughly.

Have You or a Loved One Been Injured Because of a Defect in a Product?

If you or a loved one has been injured because of a dangerous product, you may be entitled to bring a claim against the manufacturer and retailer of the product. It is important in these types of cases that a dedicated and knowledgeable attorney is retained. The attorneys at the Cavanagh Sorich Law Group have several years of experience in settling and litigating these matters. This includes the ability to vet and screen possible expert witnesses. Many times, cases hinge on expert witnesse,s and it is important to contact an attorney to increase your chances of success. Contact our office to schedule a free initial consultation today. You may be entitled to monetary compensation for your injuries and damages related to your accident.

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