To access this feature, please Log In or Register for your Casebriefs Account.

Add to Library




Kumho Tire Co v. Carmichael

Citation. Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137, 119 S. Ct. 1167, 143 L. Ed. 2d 238, 50 U.S.P.Q.2D (BNA) 1177, 67 U.S.L.W. 4179, 99 Cal. Daily Op. Service 2059, 50 Fed. R. Evid. Serv. (Callaghan) 1373, 29 ELR 20638, CCH Prod. Liab. Rep. P15,470, 1999 Colo. J. C.A.R. 1518, 12 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 141 (U.S. Mar. 23, 1999)
Law Students: Don’t know your Studybuddy Pro login? Register here

Brief Fact Summary.

A tire on a vehicle driven by the Patrick Carmichael (“Mr. Carmichael”) blew out and caused an accident killing one passenger and injuring others. The Respondents, the survivors and the decedent’s representative (the “Respondents”), sued the Petitioners, the tire maker and distributor, (the “Petitioners”), claiming that the tire was defective.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

Federal Rules of Evidence (“F.R.E.”) Rule 702 gives a district judge discretion to determine reliability of evidence in regards the circumstances and facts of a particular case.


The Respondents sued the Petitioners alleging that a tire defect caused the blowout which led to an accident killing one and injuring others. A significant portion of the case rested on the depositions of a tire failure analyst, Dennis Carlson, Jr. (“Mr. Carlson”). Mr. Carlson intended to testify that in his expert opinion a defect in the tire’s manufacture or design caused the blow out. His opinion was based on a visual and tactile inspection of the tire, and upon a theory that this sort of tire failure was the result of a defect, and not tire abuse. The Petitioners moved to exclude Mr. Carlson’s testimony on the ground that his methodology failed to satisfy F.R.E. Rule 702, which states: “If scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will assist the trier of fact.

Issue. Was Carlson’s expert testimony properly excluded by the district court?

Holding.  Yes. Daubert’s general holding applies not only to testimony based on scientific knowledge, but also to testimony based on technical and other specialized knowledge. A trial court may consider one or more of the more specific factors that Daubert mentioned when doing so will help determine that testimony’s reliability. But the testimony of reliability is flexible and Daubert’s list of specific factors does not exclusively applies to all experts or in every case. Thus, the district court’s decision – not to admit certain expert testimony – was within its discretion and lawful.

Reasoning.  The district court did not doubt Carlson’s qualifications, which included a masters degree in mechanical engineering, ten years’ work at Michelin America, and testimony as a tire failure consultant in other tort cases. Rather it excluded the testimony because, despite those qualifications, it found unreliable the methodology employed by the expert in analyzing the data obtained in the visual inspection, and the scientific basis for such an analysis. The doubts here were reasonable. The transcripts of Carlson’s depositions support both the trial court’s initial uncertainty and its final conclusion. Those transcripts cast considerable doubt upon the reliability of both the explicit theory and the implicit proposition. Further, in respect to one sign of abuse, the expert seemed to deny the sufficiency of his own simple visual-inspection methodology. Finally, the court found no convincing defense of Carlson’s methodology. Rather, it found that none of the Daubert factors, including that of general acceptance in the relevant expert community. The district court ultimately based its decision upon Carlson’s failure to satisfy either Daubert’s factors or any other set of reasonable reliability criteria. In light of the record, the conclusion was within the district court’s lawful discretion.

Create New Group

Casebriefs is concerned with your security, please complete the following