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Daubert Rule Allows Trial Judges to Review All Expert Testimony for Reliability
Description Supreme Court clarified that the Daubert rule, stating that trial judges are gatekeepers who may prevent dubious scientific testimony from being introduced at trial, extends to all expert testimony. This flexible standard gives trial courts substantial discretion to admit or exclude expert testimony.
Topic Court Procedure
Key Words Evidence, Expert Testimony
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Carmichael sued Kumho Tire for products liability due to tire failure that caused a fatal accident. The case was largely based upon the testimony of a tire failure expert who found the tire to be defective based on his inspection of the tire. The district court judge held the expert's methodology to be unreliable. Plaintiffs appealed and the Eleventh Circuit reversed, holding that under the Daubert rule, the expert testimony could not be excluded. Kumho appealed.
Decision Reversed. The gatekeeping obligation of judges imposed in Daubert applies to all expert testimony. The judge's inquiry into the methodology used by the expert was reasonable, and so he did not abuse his discretion by excluding the testimony. For the expert to testify that the tire was defective, and was the cause of the accident, when it was clear that the tire had been worn bald, had been improperly repaired for punctures before, and showed other evidence of abuse, gave the court good reason to doubt the reliability of the testimony and, therefore, to exclude it.
Citation Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael, 119 S.Ct. 1167 (Sup. Ct., 1999)

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