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HALLMARK V. ELDRIDGE, 124 NEV. 492

HALLMARK V. ELDRIDGE, 124 NEV. 492

Hallmark v. Eldridge gives us direction as to what foundation is necessary to support an expert's opinion at trial. An expert witness must satisfy three prongs: (1) the expert must be qualified in an area of scientific, technical or other specialized knowledge (must be qualified); (2) the expert's specialized knowledge must assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence (assist the jury); and (3) the expert's testimony must be limited to matters within the scope of the expert's knowledge (scope requirement).

To determine whether the expert is qualified the district court will consider the following factors: (1) formal schooling and academic degrees, (2) licensure, (3) employment experience, and (4) practical experience and specialized training. This is a non-exhaustive list. The district court will allow the testimony when it will assist the trier of fact in understanding the evidence. The testimony will assist the fact finder when it is relevant and when it is the product of reliable methodology.

In Hallmark, the court found that the defendant's expert did not testify based on reliable methodology thus not satisfying the second requirement under Nev. Rev. Stat. §50.275. The defense's expert testified that he formed his opinion that the Defendant's vehicle couldn't have caused the alleged damage to the Plaintiff without knowing the starting positions of the vehicles, the speed at impact, the length of time that the vehicles were in contact during impact, the distances traveled, or the angle at which the vehicles collided. The biomechanical expert went on to concede that he never physically examined the Plaintiff's, Hallmark's, vehicle. Moreover, the Defendant, Tradwinds, did not offer any evidence that biomechanics was within a recognized field of expertise. Tradewinds did not introduce any evidence demonstrating that their expert's biomechanical opinion was capable of being tested or that it had been published or subjected to peer review.

In determining whether an experts opinion is the product of reliable methodology, a district court should consider whether the opinion is: (1) within a recognized filed of expertise; (2) testable and has been tested; (3) published and subjected to peer review; (4) generally accepted in the scientific community; and (5) based more on particularized facts rather than assumption, conjecture, or generalization.

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