Thank You For Submiting Feedback!
There is no requirement that an expert perform tests, particularly where the expert relies on published data generated by another expert in the pertinent field.
Baseball umpire Edwin Hickox was injured while wearing a mask manufactured by Wilson Sporting Goods Company. Mr. Hickox and his wife brought products-liability claims against Wilson. A jury found for the Hickoxes on all claims. Wilson appealed, arguing that the Hickoxes presented expert testimony that lacked an adequate foundation; that Wilson was entitled to a jury instruction on assumption of risk; and that the evidence was insufficient to support the verdict.
Did the Hickoxes present an expert testimony that lacked an adequate foundation?
The appellate court held that the testimony of the umpire's expert witness was properly admitted. The expert based his testimony on analysis of the videotape of the incident, calculation of the energy possessed by a baseball when pitched at various speeds, published results of impact testing conducted on hockey-style helmets, and examination of the manufacturer's mask and other baseball masks. The expert did not have to perform tests. The manufacturer's caselaw was distinguished. The expert explained his reasoning for concluding that the angle of the throat guard caused the umpire's injuries. The manufacturer was found liable on strict-liability theories. An assumption-of-risk instruction was not required. Sufficient evidence supported the judgment under the consumer-expectation test for design defects. There were safer, commercially available alternatives, and the umpire would not have suffered injury had he been wearing an alternative style mask. The manufacturer's representative told the umpire that the mask would disperse energy and protect against concussion. Proof that the defect was reasonably foreseeable was not required. There was sufficient evidence of proximate cause.