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Non-Medical Evidence; Expert Testimony Under Georgia Law

by merlin on April 20th, 2012
  • Sumo

The admissibility of testimony by a person deemed (by the Court) to be an “expert” in Georgia in non-medical malpractice situations is determined by Section 24-7-702(a)-(b) of the Official Code.  That Section provides as follows:

(a) Except as provided in Code Section 22-1-14 and in subsection (g) of this Code section, the provisions of this Code section shall apply in all civil proceedings. The opinion of a witness qualified as an expert under this Code section may be given on the facts as proved by other witnesses.

(b) If scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue, a witness qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education may testify thereto in the form of an opinion or otherwise, if:

(1) The testimony is based upon sufficient facts or data;

(2) The testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods; and

(3) The witness has applied the principles and methods reliably to the facts of the case which have been or will be admitted into evidence before the trier of fact.

(d) Upon motion of a party, the court may hold a pretrial hearing to determine whether the witness qualifies as an expert and whether the expert’s testimony satisfies the requirements of subsections (a) and (b) of this Code section. Such hearing and ruling shall be completed no later than the final pretrial conference contemplated under Code Section 9-11-16.

(e) An affiant shall meet the requirements of this Code section in order to be deemed qualified to testify as an expert by means of the affidavit required under Code Section 9-11-9.1.

(f) It is the intent of the legislature that, in all civil proceedings, the courts of the State of Georgia not be viewed as open to expert evidence that would not be admissible in other states. Therefore, in interpreting and applying this Code section, the courts of this state may draw from the opinions of the United States Supreme Court in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993); General Electric Co. v. Joiner, 522 U.S. 136 (1997); Kumho Tire Co. Ltd. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137 (1999); and other cases in federal courts applying the standards announced by the United States Supreme Court in these cases.

The basic test of admissibility of “expert testimony” is found in subsection (b), and I have placed the particular issues that require some additional action or are topics for debate in italics.  I have also omitted (c) entirely, because that subsection deals with expert testimony in medical malpractice actions, and is an entirely separate area of litigation unto itself!  The important subsection to meet the test of expertise needed for factually-persuasive opinion testimony in most civil actions is subsection (b).

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