A federal appeals court reversed a $3 million judgment in favor of a personal injury plaintiff who alleged a defective vehicle caused him to suffer serious injuries in a 2012 car accident. The court ruled that expert witness testimony pertaining to the speed control cable should not have been admitted. Specifically, the appellate court ruled, the precedent set in the 1993 case of Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals meant the trial court had a duty to perform certain gatekeeping functions with regard to its expert witnesses, and yet the court failed to do so.
According to court records from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in the most recent case, plaintiff was driving his pickup truck, which he had recently purchased, on a road in West Virginia. He was traveling about 50 mph when he realized he was unable to slow down when he let up on the accelerator pedal. He tried to slow the pickup by applying the brakes, but this did not work. In order to avoid hitting anyone else, he turned the truck off the road, drove over a curb and crashed his vehicle into a brick wall of a local business. The tires continued spinning for about half a minute after the engine shut down.
There was no indication the vehicle previously had problems with the accelerator, throttle or cruise control. Continue reading →