Earlier this month, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit issued an opinion affirming a product liability plaintiff’s jury verdict in the amount of $1,200,000. In the case, Quilez-Velar v. Ox Bodies, Inc., the court determined that the lower court properly admitted the plaintiff’s expert witness testimony and that the jury’s verdict should stand.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiffs in the case were the surviving family members of a woman who was killed when her car slid under a garbage truck that had not been properly fitted with a safe under-ride guard, which was supposed to prevent vehicles from sliding under the rear of the truck in the event of this type of accident. The evidence at trial showed that the truck was owned and operated by the local government, but the under-ride guard was manufactured by the defendant. The plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against the manufacturer of the guard only and did not proceed against the government.
At trial, the plaintiffs had an accident reconstructionist testify that he knew of an alternate design that “would have been [a] safer design in the instant accident.” The defendant admitted that the expert was properly qualified as an accident reconstructionist, but it challenged the expert’s testimony, arguing that he did not conduct the necessary tests to be qualified as an expert on the subject. The trial court reviewed the expert’s report and determined that his “conclusions are well-explained, and its use of crash-test data appears appropriate.” The court also explained that the defendant did not adequately explain why the expert should have conducted additional tests. The judge admitted the expert’s testimony.
After the 12-day trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiffs for $6,000,000. However, since the jury determined that the manufacturer was only 20% liable for the damages, the plaintiffs’ total award was $1,200,000. (The jury determined that the non-present government entity was 80% responsible.)
The defendant appealed but was unsuccessful in doing so. The appellate court reviewed the expert’s reports as well as the relevant Federal Rules of Evidence and determined that the trial court was proper in admitting the testimony. As a result, the plaintiffs’ verdict will stand.
Have You Been Injured in a Virginia Car or Truck Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Virginia auto accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. Even in car and truck accident cases, expert testimony may be crucial to a case’s success. Therefore, it is very important that you select an attorney with experience handling personal injury cases and in expert selection and preparation. The skilled personal injury lawyers at Charles B. Roberts & Associates have decades of combined experience using experts to prove their clients’ cases. Call 701-491-7070 to set up a free consultation today. Calling is free and will not result in any obligation on your part unless we are ultimately able to help you obtain compensation.
See More Blog Posts:
Court Allows Plaintiff to Rely Solely on Circumstantial Evidence in Lead-Based Paint Lawsuit, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, April 18, 2016.
Car Accident Victim’s Award Upheld after Government’s Appeal, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, May 3, 2016.