Complex Injury Cases Often Demand Expensive Expert Witnesses

The verdicts awarded to two men injured by diacetyl inhalation provide two examples of how expert witness testimony can strengthen an injury case. One of the victims was a regular consumer of microwave popcorn, while the other man worked in a California flavoring plant. Both men developed a serious respiratory condition known as bronchiolitis obliterans, or “popcorn lung,” from inhaling the diacetyl used for butter flavoring and smell in microwave popcorn. The popcorn-eating victim was greatly assisted in his claim by the lung specialist who treated him and wrote to federal authorities after becoming convinced of diacetyl’s risks. The specialist’s research and testimony helped to show that diacetyl levels in the man’s home were reaching levels normally seen at popcorn plants. The victim was eventually awarded $7 million in the case. The flavoring plant worker took his popcorn lung case to trial and benefitted from his own expert witness. The…
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Is Expert Witness Testimony Worth the Cost?

A lawsuit in New York gives an interesting glimpse into the amount spent on expert witness testimony in highly contested litigation. New York’s state government will spend nearly $1 million on expert witnesses alone in Maisto v. New York, a lawsuit brought by school districts over educational funding. This total is almost a third greater than the funds the state expects to expend on attorneys’ fees in the case, demonstrating the importance that the testimony of these witnesses can hold. Experts in Maisto v. New York were testifying about educational resources, but a variety of experts are often required in litigation ranging from small contract disputes to wrongful death claims. Personal injury cases and medical malpractice in particular regularly require medical experts like nurses and physicians to explain complex conditions and procedures in terms a jury can understand. A survey of over 5,000 expert witnesses revealed that medical experts tend…
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What is the Estimated Cost of Litigation?

It is no secret that civil litigation can be very expensive. Administrative costs, expert witness fees and other expenses add up as cases progress. Attorneys try to anticipate the costs of resolving cases, but estimating expenses can be very difficult. Expenses vary greatly from case to case and there is usually a possibility of settlement at any stage in the process. The National Center for State Courts (NCSC) has developed a model that seeks to make cost estimation easier and more accurate. The NCSC focused on the amount of time spent by attorneys on different litigation tasks. Their Civil Litigation Cost Model (CLCM) looks at how tasks, and the time required for completion, change at different stages of litigation. The CLCM also examines cases by separating them into six case types. Are Litigation Costs Estimates Reliable? The CLCM provides a general idea of what a case might cost, but it…
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