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Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael

    '''''Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael''''' ((97-1709) 526 US 137 (1999) 131 F3d 1433 reversed) is a decision by the United States Supreme Court which expanded the Daubert Standard to include expert testimony from non-scientists

    Background

    In 1993 a tire on the vehicle driven by Patrick Carmichael blew out and the vehicle overturned killing one passenger died and injuring the others The survivors and the decedent’s representative sued Kumho Tire and the distributor claiming that the tire that failed was defective They rested their case in significant part upon the depositions of a tire failure analyst Dennis Carlson Jr who intended to testify that in his expert opinion a defect in the tire’s manufacture or design caused the blowout Kumho Tire moved to exclude Carlson’s testimony on the ground that his methodology failed to satisfy the Daubert Standard which says: “If scientific technical or other specialized knowledge will assist the trier of fact … , a witness qualified as an expert … may testify thereto in the form of an opinion”
    Granting the motion (and entering summary judgment for the defendants) the District Court acknowledged that it should act as a reliability “gatekeeper” under Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals to ensure that scientific testimony is not only relevant but reliable The court noted that Daubert discussed four factors–testing peer review error rates and “acceptability” in the relevant scientific community–which might prove helpful in determining the reliability of a particular scientific theory or technique On the plaintiffs’ motion for reconsideration the court affirmed its earlier order because it found insufficient indications of the reliability of Carlson’s methodology In reversing the Eleventh Circuit held that the District Court had erred as a matter of law in applying Daubert Believing that Daubert was limited to the scientific context the court held that the Daubert factors did not apply to Carlson’s testimony which it characterized as skill- or experience-based
    The finding was reversed by Breyer J., delivered the opinion of the Court in which Rehnquist C. J., and O’Connor Scalia Kennedy Souter Thomas and Ginsburg JJ joined and in which Stevens J., joined as to Parts I and II. Scalia J., filed a concurring opinion in which O’Connor and Thomas JJ joined Stevens J., filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part

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