The defective ladder is a much-maligned icon of products liability law. But when an engineering expert gives his opinion on why a ladder fell, is his testimony based on observation or science? The answer is important, because it dictates whether a trial court must conduct a gatekeeper hearing under Daubert in advance of the expert’s testimony.
In a recent Connecticut case, Prentice v. Dalco Electric Inc., the trial judge allowed the expert to testify without such a hearing. This was a mistake, the state Supreme Court ruled on appeal, overturning a $1.2 million verdict for the plaintiff.
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