I discovered in the course of private discussions that this is one topic
which many companies who participate in expert witness work will not
participate. As was explained in a private email to me; many engineers are
warned by their attorneys not to go on record with any comments that may
later be used against them or which their opponents may have access. Because
of this, some companies would prefer that we not even discuss the issues or
try to establish a precedence in such matters.
This same individual suggested that Listservice threads, which are public
records, can be presented in court to try and establish a "standard of care"
and the credentials of those who posted support one way or the other may add
to the credibility of the opinions.
A friend who wishes to remain out of the line of fire wrote the following to
me. I have received permission to post anonymously.
"....the discussion on expert witnesses disturbs me a little. My slant, if
use it, is:
The need for an "expert interpretation" of the "facts", however construed,
is needed at trial because a jury of ordinary folks do not have the
expertise to interpret the facts.
For example. Say there is a dispute as to how a person died, and depending
upon how they died, the heirs become entitled to a great deal of money. One
medical doctor can say that a person died of the swine flu. Another medical
doctor could also say that a person died of a gunshot wound. How is a jury
going to tell who is telling the truth? Get more doctors? You can be sure
the next expert will say it was from food poisoning! Get non-medical
experts i.e., some ill informed preacher who says its because they were
possessed by the devil? (Remember, preachers tend to have better leadership
and public speaking skills than doctors, so they could be more convincing.)
Perhaps whoever's the better dresser? Whoever looks older and wiser?
Younger and therefore more informed?
You would be lucky if you have a jury that at least is a good consumer of
medical information. Or for engineer, a good consumer of science. Therein
lies the risk of going to court."
Dennis S. Wish, PE