Expert Testimony Must be Qualified, Reliable, and Relevant

October 19, 2017

            Following a tragic fire at Appellant Debbie Cash’s home, Cash and her surviving daughter filed suit against LG Electronics, Inc. (“LG”) alleging strict liability and negligence.  Cash v. LG Elecs., Inc., 2017 WL 3929083 (Ga. Ct. App. 2017). The investigation into the fire by the Gwinnett County Fire Department determined that the fire started in the vicinity of the living room’s entertainment center.  However, the fire department was unable to specifically determine the origin of the fire.  Cash claimed that an internal component of her LG television failed due to a manufacturing defect and was the cause of the fire which resulted in the death of Cash’s husband and son. 

 

            Cash attempted to introduce expert testimony to prove the cause of the fire; however, the trial court excluded Cash’s expert finding that the expert’s opinion was not based on “sufficient facts or reliable principles and methods” as required by Daubert. Id.  After excluding the expert testimony, the trial court granted summary judgment to LG, and the Court of Appeals of Georgia affirmed that decision.  Id.  The Court found that the opinion evidence was connected to existing data only ipse dixit – because the expert said it was. The court agreed with the trial judge there was too great an analytical gap between the data and the opinion proffered.  Id. (citing Gen. Elec. Co. v. Joiner, 522 U. S. 136, 146 (III), (1997)). Without the expert testimony, the Court agreed that Cash had no evidence to establish her claims that the television was the cause in fact of the fire.  Id. at *5.  Therefore, her claims against LG necessarily failed, and the grant of summary judgment to LG was proper.

 

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