Expert Testimony in Washington, D.C. Product Liability Cases

When someone is injured in a Washington, D.C. accident, the law allows them to file a civil suit against the responsible party to recover monetary damages for their injuries. Generally, this process requires proving four things. First, that the defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff. Second, that the defendant breached that duty through some act or omission. Third, the plaintiff’s injuries were caused by the defendant’s breach. Lastly, the plaintiff suffered actual damages. Failure to prove one of these elements can be fatal to a plaintiff’s claim. In Washington, D.C. personal injury lawsuits, plaintiffs may bring in expert witnesses to help prove these elements; expert witnesses can help explain how an accident happened or the extent of the resulting injuries to the court.

While expert witnesses can be extremely helpful for plaintiffs, there are certain situations where expert witnesses can be used by the defense against the plaintiff. Defendants can also call expert witnesses who may provide testimony stating that a plaintiff’s claim is false. This can damage the plaintiff’s claim, sometimes even ending it altogether; if a defendant has a reliable expert witness and a plaintiff has none, the plaintiff might automatically lose.

Take, for example a recent state appellate case against Johnson & Johnson. According to the court’s written opinion, the plaintiff used Johnson & Johnson talc-based products—specifically Shower to Shower and Baby Powder—regularly for years. In 2016, she was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, and filed suit against Johnson & Johnson and their talc supplier, alleging that the company’s Shower to Shower and Baby Powder contained asbestos, causing her illness. In response, Johnson & Johnson produced the testimony of an expert witness, a geology Ph.D. specializing in characterizing asbestos in raw materials and the development of asbestos analytical methods. Based on his specialized knowledge and a review of various governmental and academic studies, the expert concluded that the talc sourced from the specific mines providing for the two products was asbestos-free.

In response to the defendant’s expert, the plaintiffs did not submit any expert testimony to support their claim. As a result, when the defendants moved for summary judgment, the court ruled in favor of the defendants because the plaintiffs, failing to provide an expert witness in response to the defendant’s, was unable to raise a triable issue of material fact. As such, the court found that defendants were entitled to judgment as a matter of law because there was no expert testimony stating anything but that the Johnson & Johnson products were asbestos-free, a holding that was affirmed on appeal.

Contact A Washington, D.C. Personal Injury Lawyer

Recovering in the aftermath of a Washington, D.C. accident can be overwhelming and difficult, and it may seem impossible to add filing a civil suit to your to-do list during that time. Lebowitz & Mzhen, Personal Injury Lawyers, is here to help. Our dedicated attorneys will handle every aspect of your Washington, D.C. product liability case for you, from initial filing all the way through trial if needed, so that you can focus on recovery. To learn more, call today at 800-654-1949.

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