Three months after the accident, Carmichael sued the tire manufacturer, Kumho Tire Co, claiming that the tire was defective and it caused the accident. The case was dependent for a significant part on the testimony of a tire failure analyst name Dennis Carlson, Jr.
Carlson relied on the features of tire technology that Kumho Tire Co did not dispute as well as the background facts of that particular tire that burst. Carlson concluded that the defect in the tire caused the accident to occur and he reached this conclusion on certain observations he had made about the tire. Kumho Tire disputed this and also disagreed with certain aspects of the methodology used by the expert. So, they requested the federal district court to exclude the methodology under Rule 702 of the Federal Rules of Evidence.
After the Daubert v. Merrel Dow Pharmaceuticals lawsuit, the district court has strengthened the gatekeeping role for trial judges for admitting expert testimony. In Kumho Tire Co v. Carmichael lawsuit, the trial judge found that the tire expert’s method was not valid scientifically and hence excluded his testimony. Carmichael appealed to the Eleventh Circuit.
The Eleventh Circuit reversed the district court’s ruling in favor of Kumho Tire. The Eleventh Circuit reasoned that the Daubert test was limited just to scientific testimony by an expert and did not apply to skill or experience based observation.
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