Showing Bias to Impeach a Witness such as an Expert

Posted by David Adelstein on September 19, 2015
Expert Testimony

 

If you have an expert testifying on your behalf at trial, the opposing party will ask how much you or your agents have paid the expert for his testimony.   Why? Because this shows bias, right? The sentiment is that the expert is a hired gun being paid for his testimony; although, this cuts both ways in a case where both parties have a testifying expert.

In the personal injury case of Vazquez v. Martinez, 40 Fla. L. Weekly D2170a (Fla. 5th DCA 2015), the plaintiff showed that the defendant’s expert witnesses were paid almost $700,000 by the defendant or her agents. The Fifth District Court of Appeals found this to be appropriate to show the bias of the experts:

A party may attack the credibility of a witness by exposing a potential bias. A jury is entitled to know the extent of the financial connection between the party and the witness, and the cumulative amount a party has paid an expert during their relationship. Therefore, Florida courts allow extensive discovery of financial information to assist counsel in impeaching examining physicians and other experts by demonstrating that the expert has economic ties to the insurance company or defense law firm.

Vazquez, supra (internal citations and quotations omitted).

This is supported by Florida Statute s. 90.608(2) that allows a party to impeach (or attack the credibility of a witness such as an expert) by showing that the testifying expert or witness is biased.

Please contact David Adelstein at dadelstein@gmail.com or (954) 361-4720 if you have questions or would like more information regarding this article. You can follow David Adelstein on Twitter @DavidAdelstein1.

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