Product Liability -- 2018

Evans v. NACCO Materials Handling Group, Inc.   (Virginia Supreme Court)

Admissibility of expert evidence

The NAM filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court of Virginia asking the court to reaffirm established rules governing the admissibility of expert testimony and contributory negligence. This case concerned the trial court’s admission of expert testimony despite the expert testifying to an opinion without having conducted any testing or independent analysis, and admitting that the product at issue (Hyster lift truck parking brake) met government and industry standards for operation. The NAM's brief argued that, in order to be admissible, expert testimony must be predicated upon both a sufficient factual foundation and a sufficient scientific foundation, neither of which were present in this case. Furthermore, the NAM urged the court to affirm the trial court’s finding of contributory negligence because NACCO demonstrated that the plaintiff’s negligence was the proximate cause of the accident, and the plaintiff’s own expert admitted that the decedent in the case was not certified to use the lift truck. Expert testimony and contributory negligence standards must be applied equally to both plaintiffs and defendants, to do otherwise would result in unjust punishment to manufacturers. The Virginia Supreme Court ruled 7-0 in NAACO's favor, finding that the plaintiff's evidence failed as a matter of law to establish a design defect.

Related Documents:
NAM brief  (June 27, 2017)


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