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Expert Excluded Because He Could Not Identify Any Scientific Source to Confirm His “Basic Scientific Principle”

In United Fire and Casualty Co. v. Whirlpool Corp., 2011 WL 4375049 (N.D. FL 2011), a metallurgist proposed to testify concerning the temperatures that the metal exhaust tubes reached during a fire. Because the metallurgical examination revealed that the steel was melted, the expert opined that the steel must have reached at least 2800 degrees.

In order to reach that temperature, the expert theorized that the dryer fan must have been when the fire started. The court concluded that the conclusion that the exhaust tube must have reached 2800 degrees was "void of any sources that confirm his conclusion."

The claim that this opinion was based upon the experts' "knowledge of basic metallurgy from and his undergraduate and graduate studies" was insufficient. The expert was not aware of any  publication that supported his conclusion. "If this was such a basic metallurgic fact, then surely there would be some type of publication (such as a textbook) that would support this opinion."

Importantly, the court noted that the expert "stated that he could have attempted to replicate the temperatures reached in the dryer duct but that he was not asked to for his job." Unimpressed, the court remarked "Once again, we are left to rely on the opinion of one person without any supporting literature or tests, which does not meet the reliability test in Daubert."

© Copyright 2020 Armstrong Teasdale LLP. All rights reserved National Law Review, Volume II, Number 275

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