Law School Case Brief
Wannall v. Honeywell, Inc. - 413 U.S. App. D.C. 384, 775 F.3d 425 (2014)
Expert disclosure requirements allow an opposing party a reasonable opportunity to prepare for effective cross examination and perhaps arrange for expert testimony from other witnesses.
Plaintiff Wannall, representative of the estate of John Tyler, filed the original action for damages against Defendant Honeywell, Inc., alleging that Tyler's disease was due to asbestos exposure. Defendant moved for summary judgment contending that the Plaintiff had failed to establish the causal link required under Virginia law and Tyler’s disease. The district court denied the motion. Defendant moved for reconsideration when the Supreme Court of Virginia came out with a ruling that rejected the “substantial cause standard” and ruled instead that plaintiffs must demonstrate that "exposure to the defendant's product alone must have been sufficient to have caused the harm. The Plaintiff opposed the motion and presented a new expert declaration. The district court decided to strike the expert declaration for being untimely upon motion of Defendant.
Does the court abuse its discretion when it excludes an expert testimony for being untimely?
The Court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by excluding the new declaration under Fed. R. Civ. P. 37(c), because the late submission was harmful; allowing the new declaration would have required either reopening discovery or denying the manufacturer the opportunity to cross-examine the expert on his new opinions before trial, and the late submission was not substantially justified.
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