Thoughts on Finding Defense Experts: A Bad Expert Can Guarantee Failure….and so on

” … Do as adversaries do in law, strive mightily, but eat and drink as friends.” Shakespeare; The Taming of the Shrew, act 1, scene 2.

It’s my pleasure to bring Jon Stowell’s counsel on selecting defense experts to Law Tips readers. Mr. Stowell is with the Law Offices of the Cincinnati Insurance Company in Indianapolis. He participates as a faculty member in our CLE entitled “Trying the Traumatic Brain Injury Case,” Jon’s advice covers a wide gamut of issues defense lawyers need to contemplate. Here are samplings of that instruction ranging from introductory remarks on the traumatic brain injury case to his general thoughts on finding experts:

“Few areas in civil litigation are more challenging and more intellectually interesting for a lawyer than a traumatic brain injury (“TBI”) case. TBI cases demand a team of qualified experts to opine on discrete and specific areas of specialty. To understand the potential exposure facing a client, a defense lawyer needs to begin thinking about damages experts as soon as a TBI case is assigned.

Finding the right expert can be a time consuming process, but it is time well spent. Finding a new expert may require the investment of five to ten hours of time. After an expert has been retained, an early in-person meeting at the expert’s location should be arranged. Although these trips can be cumbersome for the attorney’s schedule, they will in certain cases save a great deal of trouble and aggravation on the back end of a case. This initial meeting is a good chance for the defense lawyer to “Daubert” their own expert.”

Jon Stowell’s general thoughts on finding defense experts:

There are many acceptable ways to find qualified defense experts. Practitioners will be familiar with free locator services such as SEAK and JurisPro. These services have many qualified experts who generally have a good level of familiarity with the litigation process. A rich source for potential experts is to locate a practitioner or academic who has recently published in a given area but has not previously served as an expert witness. These experts can often be found using Google Scholar searches.

The benefit of using this type of expert is the person is often on the cutting edge of their topic and very well qualified to review and opine on a specific topic. The downside of using this type of expert is they may have never been involved in litigation before and may not fully appreciate the rigors of the process. Additional time and preparation must be given to this type of expert if chosen for a case.

A nonexclusive list of potential sources of experts includes:

1. Published Authors – Google and Google Scholar searches

2. Academics

3. Colleague Referral

4. Westlaw Case Queries

5. JurisPro

6. SEAK

7. Thompson Reuters

8. Linkedln

In most cases, the practitioner will want to start with the foundational experts, neuropsychologist and neurologist, and build up from there. The best source for determining what areas of the defense case need to be shored up is from the experts already retained. A good expert will not want to go beyond their area of expertise or their comfort zone. A defense attorney does a disservice to his case and the expert to ask for a stretch by the expert beyond those bounds.

A good expert does not guarantee success in a case. A bad expert can guarantee failure. The take away point should be to invest the time and effort necessary to find the right expert.

I appreciate Jon Stowell’s contribution to Law Tips. And, as always, thank you to Law Tips readers for taking the time to visit. If you would like to take advantage of the excellent CLE program that includes the presentation by Jon Stowell and other expert faculty members, look at the On Demand or Video Replay Seminars of “Trying the Traumatic Brain Injury Case,” and “Recent Developments in DUI Defense.” as well as the ever-popular 36th Annual Indiana Law Update scheduled live in September.

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About our Law Tips faculty participants:
Jon Kenneth Stowell is Associate Counsel-Managing Attorney at the Law Offices of The Cincinnati Insurance Company in Indianapolis. His areas of practice are: Traumatic Brain Injury; Wrongful Death; Nursing Home Negligence; Dental Malpractice; Product Liability; Agent Errors and Omissions; Construction Injury; Construction Defect; and Premises Liability.

About our Law Tips blogger:
Nancy Hurley has long-standing connections with Indiana lawyers. She was formerly a member of the ISBA and IBF staffs for over 30 years. Nancy’s latest lifestyle venture is with ICLEF. We are utilizing her exceptional writing and interviewing skills while exploring how her Indiana-lawyer background fits with ICLEF’s needs. When she isn’t ferreting out new topics for Law Tips, her work can be found in our Speaker Spotlight blogs, postings on the ICLEF Facebook and Twitter pages, and other places her legal experience lends itself.

Thank you for reading Law Tips. You may subscribe to this weekly blog through the RSS link at the top of this page.  Also, you are encouraged to comment below or email Nancy. She welcomes your input as she continues to sift through the treasure trove of knowledge of our CLE faculty to share with you.

ICLEF • Indiana Continuing Legal Education Forum, Indianapolis, IN

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