Abuse of Discretion Standard of Review when Expert Deemed Unqualified
In a recent article I discussed the importance of an expert’s qualifications — hiring an expert witness to render an opinion within his or her qualifications (training, knowledge, or expertise). If an expert is not qualified to render an opinion, a trial court has the discretion to preclude that witness from offering the opinion at trial.
For this reason, the standard of review in an appeal where the trial court deemed a witness unqualified is abuse of discretion. See White v. Ring Power Corp., 43 Fla.L.Weekly D2729a (Fla. 3d DCA 2018) citing Brooks v. State, 762 So. 2d 879, 892 (Fla. 2000) (“holding it is ‘within the trial court’s discretion to determine a witness’s qualifications to express an opinion as an expert, and the court’s determination in this regard will not be reversed absent a clear showing of error.’”).
In White v. Ring Power Corp., a trial court did not allow the plaintiff’s expert witnesses to render an opinion on a particular issue because the witnesses did not have the qualifications to do so. They did not have the knowledge, training, or expertise to interpret the data for which their expert opinions were based. Therefore, the appellate court affirmed the trial court finding that the trial court did NOT abuse its discretion in precluding the expert opinions / testimony at trial.
Hiring and selecting the right expert for your case is important. The selection starts with the qualifications of the expert based on the subject matter you are looking for the witness to opine.
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