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June 17, 2024

Northern District of Illinois Holds that Seventh Circuit Precedent is Incompatible with Rule 702 as Amended

Faegre Drinker on Products blog

In explaining the December 2023 amendments to Federal Rule of Evidence 702, the Advisory Committee called out several ways in which “many courts” had “incorrectly” applied Rule 702 and failed to adequately discharge their duty as gatekeepers with regard to expert witness testimony.  The import of those comments is that existing precedent on Rule 702 may be “incorrect” and must be re-examined.

A case pending in the Northern District of Illinois serves as a fine illustration of how this re-examination should work in practice.  In West v. Home Depot U.S.A., Inc., 2024 WL 1834112 (N.D. Ill. Apr. 26, 2024), the plaintiff alleged that she was injured when portions of a store display fell on her.  She offered a trio of experts to opine that her claimed injuries had been caused by the incident, but none of them “were aware of, let alone reviewed, [her] highly salient medical history prior to issuing their causation opinions.”  Rather, they were treating physicians who based their opinions solely on their post-incident treatment of the plaintiff. 

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