Limiting Expert Testimony

Another procedure used by some courts to streamline asbestos trials is to limit the number of experts who may testify and the length of their testimony. At pretrial, the court may obtain stipulations on such relatively undisputed issues as whether asbestos can be a cause of mesothelioma or lung cancer. This procedure serves to focus the cases on the issues that are typically disputed, namely, whether the plaintiff was exposed to the defendant’s product and whether other medical conditions may have led to the disease. After laying this groundwork, courts have limited expert testimony on medical issues to two witnesses per side.

A court may choose to control the amount of testimony on a given issue by listening carefully for duplication, limiting the time available for a witness, and prodding counsel to cover new matters. Any controls in this area should be responsive to the actual testimony and not be arbitrary time limits.