What is a Daubert Motion?
How do you legally define it?
What are the important elements you should know!
In this article, we will break down the legal definition of Daubert Motion so you know all there is to know about it!
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Table of Contents
A Daubert Motion is a specific type of motion filed in court proceedings aimed at excluding an expert witness’s testimony.
When a Daubert Motion is filed to exclude expert testimony, the party who intends to admit the expert evidence will need to prove to the court that the expert must be admitted.
Typically, the court will consider the followings elements when evaluating the admission of an expert:
- Does the expert have a sufficient level of expertise on the subject matter?
- Has the expert performed expertise based on reliable methodology?
Generally, this type of motion is filed before trial (although it can be filed in trial as well), where a judge is asked to evaluate the admission of an expert witness’s testimony in the court proceedings.
A motion hearing will take place where the parties outline their arguments as to why the testimony should be admitted or why it should be denied.
Ultimately, the court renders a decision.
Daubert Motion definition
What is the legal definition of a Daubert Motion?
A Daubert Motion is a specific type of motion in limine filed in the context of legal proceedings where a party requests the exclusion of an expert witness’s testimony.
The name “Daubert” comes from the U.S. Supreme Court case Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993) where the court was required to render a judgment on the admission of expert testimony.
Analysis of Daubert Motion
When evaluating the admissibility of expert witness testimony by the preponderance of evidence, the court will attempt to answer the following questions:
- How did the expert reach its conclusion?
- What methodology did the expert use?
- Was there anything lacking the expert’s approach?
- What type of testing methodology was used by the expert?
- What is the margin of error associated with the tests?
- Were there any controls implemented?
- How did the expert interpret the data?
As you can see from the questions above, the court’s objective is to determine whether the expert’s methodology is valid.
This leads us to the Daubert standard, representing the Supreme Court’s factors to evaluate the expert’s methodology.
The Daubert standard is a test or evaluation criteria allowing the court to rule on the admissibility of an expert witness’s testimony.
Under the Daubert standard, there are five factors to consider:
- Whether the theory or technique in question can be and has been tested
- Whether it has been subjected to peer review and publication
- Its known or potential error rate
- The existence and maintenance of standards controlling its operation
- Whether it has attracted widespread acceptance within a relevant scientific community
Filing of a Daubert motion
When filing a Daubert motion, it’s important to consider the court rules of procedure applicable to the case.
Some state courts have established rules setting out when a Daubert motion (or Daubert challenge) can be filed.
Often, the most appropriate timeline to file such a challenge is after the discovery phase.
The reason that’s the case is that the parties will have a sufficient amount of time to file their pleading documents and have a Daubert hearing before trial on merits.
Ultimately when the trial starts, the parties have clarity on the extent of expert testimony they can use.
Daubert motion example
Let’s look at an example of when a Daubert motion may be filed.
In the case United States of America et al. v. Oracle Corporation, the plaintiffs filed a Daubert motion to exclude certain opinion testimony of an expert witness.
In essence, the Plaintiffs moved for an order, pursuant to the Federal Rules of Evidence 702, to preclude certain statements made by the Defendant’s expert alleged to be outside of the expert’s area of expertise.
The grounds invoked in the plaintiff’s motion was:
- The expert lacks economic expertise to opine on the economic pricing effects of a proposed merger
- The expert offers no factual basis for the “expert” opinion
So what is the legal definition of a Daubert Motion?
Let’s look at a summary of our findings.
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Federal Rules of Evidence