- Lithonia Corp
In November 1985, plaintiff was injured at work when the
reflector portion of a hanging, fluorescent light fixture
manufactured by defendant fell and struck her on the side of her
Plaintiff was standing under the light while a fellow employee,
who had released one end of the shade to remove the bulbs and
check on a possible electrical problem, was attempting to fix
Though not knocked to the ground or unconscious, plaintiff felt
a knot raised on the side of her head.
She reported the incident to her employer three weeks later and
visited the company doctor for treatment, complaining of
headaches, dizziness, and occasional blackouts.
Plaintiff was placed on medical leave and later terminated
Rule 703 of the Federal Rules of Evidence
The facts or data in the particular case upon which an expert
bases an opinion or inference may be those perceived by or made
known to the expert at or before the hearing.
If of a type reasonably relied upon by experts in the particular
field in forming opinions or inferences upon the subject, the
facts or data need not be admissible in evidence.
What is necessary
The expert needs to arrived at his . . . opinion by
relying upon methods that other
experts in his field would reasonably rely upon in
forming their own, possibly different opinions, about what
caused the patient's disease.
Lithonia asserts - Brain Mapping Not method relief upon
Topographical brain mapping is not a method relied upon by other
neurologists to establish the disorder of which plaintiff
During cross-examination, Lithonia asked Dr. Haugh if the
American Academy of Neurology considered topographical brain
mapping a medically accepted technique.
Dr. Haugh responded: "The technique at the present time has much
controversy regarding it.
And there have been pros and cons on both sides.
And at the present time I'm not aware that the Academy has made
a particular position on it."
In Barrel of Fun
Judgment vacated on the ground that expert testimony based
solely on the results of a psychological stress evaluation (PSE)
was inadmissible because the
test itself was flawed.
Burden of Proof
The plaintiff as the proponent of
this scientific evidence "has the burden of showing
as a predicate to its admission that the proffered test has
acceptability and that the test has a reasonable measure of
In This Case
- Dr. Haugh offered no information to the reliability of the
test or that the scientific community has accepted the test.
Under Fed.R.Evid. 703
Experts are given wide latitude to testify on facts otherwise
not admissible in evidence and "to broaden the acceptable bases
of expert opinion.
Rule 104(a) - Is Data Reasonably Relied Upon By Experts
the court's guidance to "make a preliminary determination
pursuant to Rule 104(a) whether the particular underlying data
is of a kind that is reasonably relied upon by experts in the
particular field in reaching conclusions.
- District Court Abused its discretion
The court abused its discretion in failing to address
defendant's objection to Dr. Haugh's testimony based on
topographical brain mapping.
Rule 703 contemplates that the court will play some role in the
assessment of expert testimony offered to a jury.
While the trial process can leverage the probative value of this
testimony, the process presupposes the court's guidance.
Because the record does not sufficiently establish the
trustworthiness of topographical brain mapping or its acceptance
in the relevant scientific community, we VACATE the judgment and
REMAND for a new trial.