How an Expert Witness Can Make or Break Your Case
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Expert witnesses have the power to make or break your case. Their testimony is often a crucial part of litigation strategy to help a jury better understand the facts of a case. An expert witness’s testimony can mean the difference between winning and losing a case. While strong expert witnesses can strengthen your case and provide credibility to your arguments, weak expert testimony can undermine your case, and at worst derail it.
This is why having qualified experts who will hold up under the harshest of cross-examinations is invaluable.
Finding an Expert Witness’s Weak Spots
I spoke with Bennet Susser of Jardim, Meisner & Susser P.C. about his favorite experience breaking down an opposing expert. Bennet was representing a cosmetic company brought into court by a woman claiming she had an adverse reaction to one of its products. To help support their argument, the plaintiff’s team retained a dermatologist they hoped would convince the jury of the cosmetic’s effect on the plaintiff’s skin.
Upon receiving the expert’s CV before trial, Bennet immediately noticed some inconsistencies. Under the work history section, the doctor reported he had been at a Newark practice from 1946 to 1981, was retired from 1981 to 1987, and was back in practice from 1987 onward. Bennet checked with the American Board of Dermatology to see if the doctor had been readmitted to its specialty board. He had not been. With this newfound knowledge, Bennet began looking into the doctor’s “retirement” period.
Bennet learned that in 1981, the doctor had pled guilty to claiming more than 700 false office visits that were reimbursed by insurance companies for $5,800. Now knowing the doctor had falsified a large portion of his CV, Bennet checked whether the doctor was licensed to practice in New Jersey. He was not.
Bennet was eager to expose the expert’s deception in deposition. He allowed the doctor to make it through the entire proceeding, to have his opinion on the record, and then revealed the gaps in his credentials. The expert was left decimated.
Bennet’s experience is a great example of what can go wrong for a litigator when an expert is chosen without solid vetting. There are important nuances to finding, qualifying, and using expert witnesses that can get you the best possible outcome.
Properly Vetting Experts
When vetting expert witnesses, it’s important to focus on two points:
- Ensuring your expert’s credibility. Will a judge and jury consider your expert to be a qualified, credible witness and be willing to accept their opinion?
- Uncovering weaknesses that could discredit your expert. While vetting, you want to discover anything that the opposing counsel may use to discredit your expert. It is important to uncover any potential biases or discrepancies before retaining your expert.
Choosing the right expert witness can make or break your case. That is why it’s worth the extra time to screen your potential experts thoroughly and reduce the chance that you end up in the same situation as Bennet’s opposing counsel.
GLG’s Expert Witness Service sources experts from our network of more than 900,000 experts. Every engagement with GLG begins with a discussion between you and your GLG team to get a full understanding of your specific expert needs. Reach out now to start your expert witness search.
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