Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Judge Williamson of Monroe County Addresses Necessity of Expert Testimony in Support of Negligence Claim

In his recent decision in the case of S&S Family Partnership v. William H. Lane, Inc., No. 7858 - CV - 2007 (C.P. Monroe Jan. 16, 2014 Williamson, J.), Judge David J. Williamson of the Monroe County Court of Common Pleas addressed the necessity of a Plaintiff producing expert testimony in support of its negligence claim in order to be able to proceed beyond the motion for summary judgment stage and to trial.

The Plaintiff in this case owned a restaurant that sustained runoff water damage as a result of a nearby drainage basin that was allegedly constructed and maintained by the defendants.

The Defendants filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on the grounds that the Plaintiff had failed to produce any expert opinion on the issues of negligence and causation.  The Defendants asserted that where engineering or professional negligence was alleged, a plaintiff must produce expert testimony to support such claims.

The Plaintiff's countered with the argument that the claims presented were based on basic negligence principles and were not grounded in any professional negligence claim.  The Plaintiff asserted that allegations against the construction contractor Defendants could be addressed by lay people on the jury in the absence of any expert testimony.

Judge David J. Williamson
Monroe County
While Judge Williamson agreed with the Plaintiff that the claims presented did not amount to a professional negligence claim, the court nevertheless held that the case presented facts and circumstances of alleged negligence and causation pertaining to the design, maintenance, and care of a drainage basin to that would be beyond the ordinary knowledge of the lay people who would make up the jury.

Accordingly, the court ruled that the Plaintiff was indeed required to present expert testimony and the failure to do so resulted in the entry of summary judgment in favor of the Defendants.

Anyone wishing to review Judge Williamson's Opinion in the case of S&S Family Partnership may click this LINK.

It is noted that Attorney Kimberly M. Kostun, special counsel with Scranton office of the firm of Hinman, Howard & Kattell, LLP represented Defendant, William H. Lane, Inc., in this matter.

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