Expert Witness Exceeded Role by Testifying About Proximate Cause
"Although Desch was qualified by his education, training, and experience to reconstruct such things as [the car's] rate of speed and path of travel, plaintiff's pace and path of travel, and the times it would have taken the parties to traverse certain distances, nothing in his background gave him any special ability to apply legal concepts of proximate cause and comparative negligence to the facts that he had reconstructed," they said. "That was, exclusively, the jury's task."
Mayer's lawyer, Floyd Lombardi, says it was clear that Desch's testimony was inappropriate and improper.
"There can always be more than one proximate cause to an accident," says Lombardi, of Jersey City's DeSevo Lombardi. When Desch said Mayer's actions were the sole probable cause, "that confused the jury," he says.
"I have no choice but to accept the decision," says Wilkey's lawyer, Charles Lorber, of Mandelbaum Salsburg Lazris & Discenza in West Orange. "We'll be ready to try the case again."
Neither side contested damages, so the next trial will be for liability only. If Wilkey's actions are found to be a proximate cause, it could affect how much of the $600,000 she ultimately receives.