Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a premises liability case brought by a woman who fell while on the defendant’s property. Because the plaintiff failed to disclose the names of her expert witnesses, the court held that the experts’ testimony was properly excluded and summary judgment appropriately granted.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiff slipped and fell on a set of stairs at the defendant’s property. The details of the plaintiff’s fall were not at issue in the court’s opinion. However, in response to the plaintiff’s allegations, the defendant moved for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiff’s case was insufficient as a matter of law.
After the defendant moved for summary judgment, the plaintiff presented two experts who planned to testify about the condition of the stairs as well as industry safety standards. The defendant objected to the two experts’ testimony because the plaintiff had failed to disclose them at an earlier time. Under state law, either party can demand that all parties involved in a lawsuit release the names of all potential expert witnesses. The defendant had done this earlier in the proceeding, and the plaintiff did not release any expert names. Normally, this issue arises in the context of trial, but here it was at the summary judgment stage.
The court determined that the experts’ testimony should be inadmissible because the plaintiff failed to comply with the expert-disclosure rule. The court explained that the rule requiring disclosure of expert witnesses allows for late-designating parties to seek exceptions to the general rule that their expert’s testimony be deemed inadmissible. However, these exceptions all take place before the summary judgement stage, and require the late-designating party let the court know as soon as possible that it failed to designate an expert witness. As a result, the court held that the expert designation rule applies at the summary judgment stage, and that the lower court was proper to exclude the plaintiff’s experts’ testimony.
The above case is a good example of how what may seem like a strategic decision can backfire against a plaintiff, preventing them from proceeding with their case. It also illustrates the importance of having skilled, dedicated counsel to ensure that all court rules are complied with.
Have You Been Injured in a Washington, D.C. Slip-and-Fall Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Washington, D.C. slip-and-fall accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. Depending on the circumstance surrounding the accident, and the extent of your injuries, you may be eligible for compensation amounts for your past and future medical expenses, lost wages, as well as for any pain and suffering you have endured. Call 410-654-3600 today to set up a free consultation with a dedicated attorney to discuss your case.
More Blog Posts:
Court Applies “Natural Accumulation” Rule in Affirming Dismissal of Slip-and-Fall Plaintiff’s Case, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, February 23, 2017
Appellate Court Upholds $21 Million Verdict in Medical Malpractice Case, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, February 2, 2017