Academic journal article Defense Counsel Journal

Ipse Dixits Fail to Pass Expert Testimony Muster

Academic journal article Defense Counsel Journal

Ipse Dixits Fail to Pass Expert Testimony Muster

Article excerpt

Ipse Dixits Fail to Pass Expert Testimony Muster

In a product liability action in federal court, where Daubert standards apply, a plaintiff's expert's opinion evidence grounded on the expert's ipse dixit or bare assertion does not cut the ice, the Seventh Circuit ruled in Clark v. Takata Corp., 192 F.3d 750 (1999), affirming the district court's striking of the evidence and granting the defendant a summary judgment.

The plaintiff suffered spinal cord injuries when the car in which he riding was struck from the rear, veered off the road and went down an embankment. His suit under the Kentucky Products Liability Act asserted claims of negligence and strict liability on the ground that the car's seat lap belt latching mechanism failed, causing him to hit his head on the roof.

No one was able to testify definitely whether the seat belt was fastened when the plaintiff was removed from the car after the accident. But a professional engineer with a Ph.D. opined for the plaintiff that if the seat belt had functioned properly, the plaintiff would not have hit his head on the roof of the car and would have suffered no serious injury. Later he added in an affidavit that his opinion was based on the fact that there was a lack of blood on the lap belt, whereas blood was found on the shoulder harness. …

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