SW Legal studies in Business

When Expert Testimony Rejected, Plaintiff May Also Lose Chance for Another Trial
Description The Supreme Court held that when the testimony of an expert witness is rejected as incompetent that judgment may be directed for the defendant and no new trial allowed. If the expert testimony that is rejected is the key to the plaintiff's case, then no new trial need be an option.
Topic Court Procedure
Key Words Evidence; Expert Testimony; Directed Verdict
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Bonnie Weisgram died of carbon monoxide poisoning during a fire in her home. Her son, Chad Weisgram, sued for wrongful death, contending that a heater made by Marley was defective and caused the fire. At trial, three witnesses testified as experts contending that the heater was defective. Marley objected that the testimony was unreliable and so should be excluded, but the trial judge admitted the testimony and held for Weisgram. The appeals court reversed, holding that judgment should have been granted to Marley because the expert witness testimony was speculative and not scientifically sound. The appeals court held that there would be no new trial. Since the expert testimony was stricken, there was no chance for the plaintiff to win the case. Weisgram appealed.
Decision Affirmed. If an appeals court determines that the district court erroneously denied a motion for judgment as a matter of law, the appeals court may 1) order a new trial; 2) remand the case for the trial court to decide whether a new trial or entry of judgment for the defendant is warranted; or 3) direct the entry of judgment as a matter of law for the defendant. The appeals court properly took the third option since without the improper testimony there was insufficient evidence to constitute a submissible case.
Citation Weisgram v. Marley Co., 528 U.S. 440, 120 S.Ct. 1011 (Sup. Ct., 2000)

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