By Bruce Jervis
An expert witness is qualified by virtue of education, professional credentials and experience, which enable that individual to understand a specialized matter that a fact finder might otherwise not fully comprehend. While expert opinion is offered in support of one side or the other to a dispute, the opinion is expected to be objective and impartial.
It was therefore startling when a Louisiana appellate court recently upheld the admission of expert testimony from the principal of a construction company in support of his company’s payment claim against a project owner. The individual possessed the requisite expert credentials – but objectivity?
In fairness, it must be noted that the claim was heard by a trial judge without a jury. A judge has great discretion to weigh the credibility of testimony, expert or otherwise, in light of the evident lack of impartiality. But still, does it ever make sense to allow a principal or employee to testify as an expert, regardless of the forum? Your comments are welcomed.