The first part of this article discussed the difficulty entailed in determining the cause of fires, especially those involving appliances, and the evidentiary problems that arise regarding expert testimony. Under Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharm. Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993), and now Federal Rule of Evidence 703, which codifies Daubert principles, federal courts over time provided rules that permit assessment of challenged fire expert testimony to determine whether it was fairly admissible.
Three important appellate cases address the admissibility of fire expert testimony: Truck Insurance Exchange v. Magnetek, 360 F.3d 1206 (10th Cir. 2004); Pride v. BIC Corp., 218 F.3d 566 (6th Cir. 2000); and Weisgram v. Marley Co., 169 F.3d 514 (8th Cir. 1999), aff’d, 528 U.S. 440 (2000). They provide methods for scrutiny of fire investigation testimony under Daubert and Federal Rule of Evidence 703. In each case, the court rejected unreliable expert theories on how a product allegedly caused a fire.
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