In a previous post, we talked about how important it is for personal injury attorneys win the “battle of the experts.” Here are three examples where Broussard & Hart was able to win these battles and help their clients.
Case #1: In taking a brain injury case to court, we called on the head of the University of California Berkley’s Brain Research Group as our expert witness. This doctor had 200 doctors who worked under him. Prior to our case, he had recently won a prestigious award in Europe for his work in brain research — worth 80,000 Euros — making him one of the top brain researchers in the entire world. What did the opposing side have? A neurosurgeon from Houston. This is why we invest so heavily in expert witnesses. It’s the difference between winning and losing your case. We put a lot of effort into lining up expert witnesses with impeccable track records. We don’t want someone who testifies all the time, as a professional expert witness. We want someone who is academically and professional qualified, and is good at what they do in the real world. Witnesses who testify all the time are the “frequent flyers” of the business, selling their testimony for compensation. If you research them closely, you will find they often have statements that contradict their previous statements in other cases. As attorneys, we can catch them in their contradictory opinions and undermine their credibility by saying “That’s not always what you said, is it? Do you recall testifying in the XYZ case when you said the opposite?”
Case #2: In one of the Jones Act cases we tried, we were cross-examining a frequent flyer witness for the defense. He testified that half of the time, he testified for plaintiffs, and half the time, he testified for the defendants. So in our research, we pulled all of the cases he had testified in. We were surprised to learn he had appeared in 104 appellate decisions. Since one of every ten cases are appealed, it worked out that he’d testified in more than 1,000 cases. Contrary to his testimony, we discovered there was not even one case where he ever testified on behalf of an injured plaintiff. He was clearly biased against the plaintiffs and could be counted on to testify for the defendants. During the cross-examination, we were able to show that the expert witness only testified for the defendants, thus damaging his credibility with the jury. (As a side note, we deposed this doctor in the late Spring. He asked if we had brought that six-inch stack of his previous cases. We made an impression on him that he’s never forgotten.) This is why we follow two very important rules when working on cases for our clients: 1) We do our research on everyone involved in a case. We need to know when we might be surprised, or when we could find an advantage, and 2) We cannot depend on “frequent flyer” witnesses, because they may not have the pedigree or credibility that we need for our clients.
Case #3: In every medical malpractice case, there is an expert who will say a medically-related injury was a breach in the standard of care, and another expert who will say it’s not. It comes down to which expert witness has the most plausible explanation. Our most recent medical malpractice trial centered around the science of microbiology. In this case, we needed an expert in the narrow field of vaginal microbiology. Our expert had literally written the book — a medical textbook — on vaginal microbiology. He was the president of the international organization of microbiologists who specialized in vaginal flora and fauna. There are only 38 people in the world that had his specialty, and he was the president of their association. The other side had a run of the mill OB/GYN. We knew our expert witness impressed the judge and the jury. We won the case, but if the jury would have decided the case in the other direction, we believe the judge would have reversed their decision, based solely on the strength of our expert witness. Our lesson here? Always find the most qualified, most knowledgeable witness there is. In most cases, that’s going to be more than a regular doctor. Oftentimes, it will be someone who is a leader, if not the leader in their field Expert witnesses can be very expensive, but they are essential to proving your case. If your attorney does not do a good job of selecting an expert or does not have the funds to hire the right one, your case is in jeopardy. If you have further questions about this blog post or other legal matters, we welcome the opportunity to answer them for you.
Please feel free to contact us toll-free at (866) 281-4774 for help.