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Expert testimony is only required when the subject of the inference is so particularly related to some science or profession that it is beyond the ken of the average layman.
After pouring coffee into a thermos made by the manufacturer, Aladdin Industries, Incorporated, and sold by the seller, Kash N' Karry" Service Corporation, the injured, Irma Virgil started to pour milk into it when it imploded, throwing hot coffee and glass into her face and injuring her eye. In her products liability action, the injured presented no expert testimony to give any scientific explanation for the implosion. The trial court directed a verdict in favor of the manufacturer and seller. The injured challenged the decision, contending that the trial court erred in directing the verdict because she had produced sufficient evidence to warrant submission to the jury.
Could the seller and manufacturer be held liable under the circumstances, notwithstanding the lack of expert testimony?
Yes, with respect to the injured’s claims of breach of implied warranty and strict liability.
The court reversed the judgment as to the injured's claims of breach of implied warranty and strict liability, but affirmed as to her negligence claims. The court rejected the injured's claim that the manufacturer and seller negligently failed to warn of the dangerous propensities of the product because there was no evidence that either knew or should have known that the thermos bottle presented a danger. However, the court found that the injured did not have to provide an expert to explain why the thermos imploded because such testimony was not beyond the ken of the average layperson. The court held that a three-month period from purchase to accident was not such a "substantial" amount of time as to bar recovery as a matter of law.