Under the Federal Rules of Evidence, Rule 702, an individual who is qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education may testify in the form of an opinion or otherwise if: (a) the expert's scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will help the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue; (b) the testimony is based on sufficient facts or data; (c) the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods; and (d) the expert has reliably applied the principles and methods to the facts of the case.
Plaintiff sued defendant for a dislocated elbow suffered on an indoor basketball court at one of defendant's health clubs. Plaintiff claimed that defendant was negligent for failing to make the basketball court safe, and for failing to warn of the dangerous condition of insufficient padding on the wall where plaintiff was injured. Defendant removed the action to federal court on diversity jurisdiction, and moved to preclude plaintiff's expert witness, as impermissible under FRE 702. Plaintiff's expert was a sports consultant, who concluded that the court failed to comport to national standards, and lacked the necessary clearance between the baselines or sufficient padding on the back wall. Defendant argued that the expert was not qualified to offer a medical opinion.
Should plaintiff be permitted to offer the proffered expert testimony?
The Court permitted the plaintiff to offer the proffered expert testimony, and denied the defendant's motion for summary judgment. As to the expert testimony, the court ruled that the expert was qualified to offer testimony, and that the testimony was only being offered to show that the defendant's basketball court did not conform to the necessary standards. As to the motion for summary judgment, the court ruled that the plaintiff's establishment of a prima facie case for negligence did not require the plaintiff to prove the negatives raised by the defendant.