Choosing an Expert Witness for a Litigation Matter
Engineers as Subject Matter Experts
Engineers are often needed for Intellectual Property (IP) litigation matters, International Trade Commission (ITC) disputes, Trade Secret Cases, and large scale insurance claims. It’s challenging for a law firm to select the best expert for their team. Physical parameters such as temperature, strength, voltage, power and many others can be measured, calculated, and quantified. Therefore in this sense, engineering is a hard science. While certain aspects and choices in engineering are open to interpretation, the core of the discipline is pure, unmarked science. Engineering judgment is applied to the data or information at hand. The difficult part of the expert witness selection process is finding an engineer with excellent credentials, is articulate, as well as experienced, has high confidence, as well as jury appeal.
Judgement plays a critical role when engineering consultants provide advice on a lawsuit. Engineering consulting, when properly applied, can cut through disputes. It begins with a thorough assessment of the details – including an on-site inspection, process, or product evaluation, and an evaluation of all the pertinent data. If a review of the site, physical sample, or process is not possible, then adequate documentation is required to provide the engineering insight and opinion. That review should come in concert with legal experts who understand how the facts apply to the law. From there, it needs to be organized into an easy-to-access form: providing comprehensive analysis while still allowing audiences and the court to access the data they need quickly and efficiently, and understand the analysis and conclusions.
Engineering Evaluations Must be Understood by a Layperson
When a single engineer testifies in a litigation, the resulting damages may be in excess of $100M, or more. However, these numbers are also consistent with the value of products that a single engineer can help design and produce. Engineering analysis and practice have a great beneficial effect on society, and can also help a court decide matters. The scope and power of engineering is seldom appreciated by laypersons, perhaps due to the obscurity of science to many. The technical nature of engineering requires good communication skills on the part of the engineer, when speaking to laypersons about a technical subject.
A recent high profile matter involving technical matters is the Toyota Motors “auto-acceleration” issue. This product defect case was decided in favor of Toyota. Certainly there was some engineering support involved in this matter. A jury may find an automotive case interesting, but not necessarily a chemical spill, patent infringement of a chemical vapor deposition process, or fiber optic matter. Thus, communication skills are important.
Engaging and Expert Engineer Early Provides Benefit to the Case
Speed and comprehensive analysis also play key roles in engineering consulting. Bringing an engineering consultant on as soon as possible allows more details to come to light at the beginning of the process, which in turn allows litigators to craft their arguments without wasted time. It also leaves plenty of opportunity to identify data that may contradict a prevailing argument, and plan for it in the litigator’s case. A first-rate engineering consultant, brought on board early in the litigation process, can resolve a large number of questions and pave the way for a compelling and unassailable legal argument. The engineer can also advise as to the technical merits of the case. It is difficult to comprehend how laypersons, such as lawyers, can satisfy a Rule 11 requirement for evidence, when only some engineers are skilled in the art.
Glew Engineering specializes in mechanical engineering consulting, with trained professionals in areas ranging from integrated circuits, semiconductor processing, semiconductor equipment, electro-mechanical system, computer aided design (CAD), to chemical storage and distribution piping. We generally understand how precedents affect the perception of a given engineering issue, as well as the impact on breach of contract, patent infringement, misappropriation of trade secrets, and causation (insurance) on a specific matter. Our vast technical expertise is married with clear communication skills, allowing us to present the issue to laymen without a lot of technical jargon. Clarity and accuracy means everything in engineering consulting; Glew Engineering delivers the highest quality of both to our customers.
Glew Engineering Consulting, Inc.
240 Pamela Drive
Mountain View, CA 94040