Proper use of experts is essential in many cases. Locks Law Firm (LLF) partners Jonathan Miller and Michael Galpern wrote an amicus brief on behalf of the New Jersey Association for Justice (NJAJ) addressing two timely expert issues raised in Torres v. Pabon, in which the plaintiff’s car crashed into the rear of the defendant’s gray trash truck at 4:30 in the morning.
The first issue addressed why the plaintiff could not have seen the trash truck in time to avoid the crash. The plaintiff’s expert gave opinions as to why this was, in fact, the case. The defense challenged the expert’s testimony as a “net opinion,” meaning it did not have sufficient basis in the facts. LLF argued that indeed the expert did have a sufficient basis: he relied on testimony by the witnesses as to their speed and the condition of lights on the truck. He explained why normal tests, such as the energy crush test, could not be used to estimate the speed.
The second issue is that a different expert for the plaintiff testified that plaintiff had trouble walking as a result of atrophy of her leg muscles. An expert for the defendants testified that the plaintiff had no difficulty walking. However, a second expert for the defendants, Dr. Helbig, agreed with the plaintiff’s expert and said the plaintiff did have atrophy of her leg muscles. The defendants chose not to call Dr. Helbig to testify. The trial court charged the jury that they could draw an adverse inference from the defendants’ failure to call Dr. Helbig. While this case was on appeal, in a different case the New Jersey Supreme Court clarified and so changed the law regarding the requirements to give an adverse inference charge. Locks Law Firm argued that for a number of reasons, giving the adverse inference charge in this case was not reversible error.
Both issues will be argued by Mr. Miller in front of the Supreme Court of New Jersey this month.