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MONTH-IN-BRIEF (Oct 2018)

Business Litigation

Florida Supreme Court Rules on Expert Testimony

Ernest Wagner

In a decision that impacts litigation involving expert testimony, the Florida Supreme Court in Richard Delisle v. Crane Co., No. SC16-2182, recently held that the Florida Legislature’s 2013 amendment of the Florida Rules of Evidence adopting the federal Daubert standard for admitting expert testimony was unconstitutional because it conflicted with a procedural rule set by the Florida Supreme Court.  In doing so, the Florida Supreme Court returned Florida to the Frye standard for admitting expert testimony.

As you may recall, in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993), the United States Supreme Court pronounced the standard to admit expert scientific testimony in federal court holding that that Federal Rules of Evidence 702 had superseded the prior standard to admit expert testimony announced in Frye v. United States, 293 F. 1013 (D.C. Cir. 1923).  The Frye Court had held than courts should admit “expert testimony deduced from a well-recognized scientific principle or discovery” that had “gained general acceptance in the particular field in which it belongs.”  Daubert receded from Frye holding that to qualify as admissible “scientific knowledge, an inference or assertion must be derived by the scientific method” shifting the focus from “general acceptance” to “principles and methodology, not on the conclusions that they generate.”

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