Cross-Examination of an Expert Witness – Absurd Opinion

//Cross-Examination of an Expert Witness – Absurd Opinion

Cross-Examination of an Expert Witness – Absurd Opinion

I’m Steve Babitsky, of SEAK, Incorporated, and I’m here today with James Mangraviti, my partner, and we’re going to be talking about what happens if you have an absurd opinion and then have to defend that at a deposition or at a trial. Jim has graciously agreed to participate in this demonstration, so why don’t we show the demonstration, and then go through it and see what we learn from it. Mr. Mangraviti, you’re a well-known accident reconstruction expert, correct?

James Mangraviti: I believe so, yes.

Steve Babitsky: You’re not sure about that?

James Mangraviti: I believe I’m well-know, yes.

Steve Babitsky: Okay. And one of the things that you’re well-known for is having testified in State versus Walker?

James Mangraviti: I’ve testified in a number of cases. State V. Walker is one of them.

Steve Babitsky: And in that particular case, the facts of the case are that the husband and wife got into an argument, correct?

James Mangraviti: Yes.

Steve Babitsky: And then, a few minutes later, the wife ran over the husband in the driveway with her SUV, correct?

James Mangraviti: Yes.

Steve Babitsky: And it was your testimony, as an accident reconstruction expert, that that was an accident. It wasn’t attempted homicide.

James Mangraviti: I ruled that it was accidental.

Steve Babitsky: Yes.

James Mangraviti: I can explain why, if you’d like.

Steve Babitsky: And you also then went on to testify, after she ran him over one time, she then backed up the driveway and ran him over a second time, with her 4,000-pound SUV, correct?

James Mangraviti: It was 6,000-pounds, but yes.

Steve Babitsky: Okay. And she ran him over a second time, correct?

James Mangraviti: Yes.

Steve Babitsky: Okay. You testified that not only was the first time that she ran over him an accident, but the fact that she backed up and ran over him a second time, that was also an accident?

James Mangraviti: Correct.

Steve Babitsky: And you went on to testify that when she ran over him a third time, in the driveway, that that was also an accident?

James Mangraviti: Yes.

Steve Babitsky: So you’re testimony in that case was a woman, who got into an argument with her husband, as you said, took her 6,000-pound SUV, ran over him once, backed up the driveway and ran over him twice, went down the driveway a third time, and ran over him a third time, that number one, two, and three were all accidents, correct?

James Mangraviti: Right. It was the same incident.

Steve Babitsky: And where is Mrs. Walker today, sir?

James Mangraviti: I don’t know.

Steve Babitsky: Well, isn’t it a fact that Mrs. Walker is in prison, doing 30-to-life?

James Mangraviti: I don’t know where, but yeah, she is in prison. That’s my understanding.

Steve Babitsky: So your opinion, the fact that she ran over her husband 3 times, in a driveway, with a 6,000-pound SUV, didn’t really carry much weight, did it, sir?

James Mangraviti: Well, I mean, she was convicted. I can’t say, you know, what weight was carried, but she was convicted.

Steve Babitsky: And isn’t it a fact, sir, that the reason you’re a well-known accident reconstruction expert, is because you’re known for this case, State versus Walker? How many accident reconstruction experts have ever testified in their career, that a woman, who’s been in an argument with her husband, and then took a 6,000-pound SUV, and ran over him once, ran over him twice, and then over a third time, that all three times were an accident, sir?

James Mangraviti: I think you’d have to repeat that question, but as I said before, State versus Walker is one of the reasons why I’m known.

Steve Babitsky: Well, let me make it simple. She ran over him three times with a 6,000-pound SUV. You testified that all three times was an accident. Right?

James Mangraviti: Correct.

Steve Babitsky: And that’s what you’re well-known for, correct?

James Mangraviti: Again, I don’t know.

Steve Babitsky: Well, they ask you about this all the time, don’t they?

James Mangraviti: Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t.

Steve Babitsky: Okay. So what we’ve seen here is a demonstration of an expert who maybe took a tenuous position in a case. Having a person run over somebody three times in their driveway, and then being an accident reconstruction expert, and then saying it was an accident, is a tenuous position to take. When an expert like that, takes a position, like that, they are going to have to defend that position for future cases.

As a matter of fact, if you give an absurd opinion, which in my opinion, this was, you’re going to have to defend that from case to case, and when we actually did this demonstration in front of a mock jury, when we asked about them running over the person three times, the reaction of the jury was, they just started to laugh. They said, “No. A woman who gets into an argument with her husband, and then runs him over three separate times in the driveway, that is obviously not an accident.”

So the lesson here is very simple. If you’re taking an absurd position, you’re going to have to defend that in your future assignments, and in fact, if it’s absurd enough, you might not get any future expert witness assignments.

James Mangraviti: Steve, what is SEAK, and how does SEAK assist expert witnesses?

Steve Babitsky: SEAK is a testifying training company, and what we do is, we provide many services for expert witnesses, with regard to depositions, and other areas of testimony. We have conferences and seminars that we run throughout the year, and throughout the country. We also have books on depositions and cross-examination, which people can look at on our web site. We have a deposition outline, which people can access for free, at no charge, at testifyingtraining.com.

And also, what we’ve been talking about before, when expert witnesses find out that retaining counsel will not properly prepare them for their deposition, and when they know they have a challenging deposition coming up, what they can do is, they can contact myself or, you, Jim, or Nadine at our company, and we can work with them one-on-one to go over their concerns, their issues, and make sure that they excel at their deposition.

James Mangraviti: Thank you, very much.

By |2018-10-31T07:44:48+00:00September 8th, 2014|Blog|Comments Off on Cross-Examination of an Expert Witness – Absurd Opinion

About the Author:

Alex Babitsky, MBA as a Partner of SEAK, Inc., (The Expert Witness Training Company) I deal with expert witnesses and the attorneys, insurance companies and paralegals who retain them on a daily basis. I manage SEAK’s Directories, which include: SEAK Expert Witness Directory: www.SeakExperts.com SEAK Medical File Review Consultants Directory: www.FileReviewConsultants.com SEAK National Directory of Independent Medical Examiners: www.IMEDirectory.com I've authored numerous books including: ● The National Guide to Expert Witness Fees and Billing Procedures ● The A to Z Guide to Expert Witnessing ● What All Physicians Considering Starting an IME Practice Should Know ● How to Market Your Expert Witness Practice: Evidence Based Best Practices I have also been on the faculty for the National Expert Witness Conference. In addition, I manage our various websites, blogs and SEO.