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ISSAQUAH LAW GROUP

Issaquah Law Group: Experienced Counsel; Client Focus

PHILOSOPHY: Formed in 2014, Issaquah Law Group is a law firm with one focus: providing businesses and insurers with high quality legal representation with the responsiveness of a smaller firm. ILG was founded on the principle that strong client relationships are the key to successful legal representation and strong relationships are built upon clear and consistent communication. 

LITIGATION: We work closely with our clients to fully and accurately understand their goals, work collaboratively to formulate specific legal strategies, and execute the agreed plan of action utilizing methods most likely to result in the efficient and effective resolution of the matter. ILG attorneys have a broad base of litigation experience to draw on in all Federal and State courts from on-the-ground investigations to Supreme Court appeals in the areas of personal injury and wrongful death, product liability, commercial general liability, labor & employment, construction litigation, and catastrophic losses due to fire and explosion.

BUSINESS LAW: Rarely is the path from point A to point B a straight line, so our role in a business law practice is to find alternatives, devise workable strategies, and keep your business ideas, goals and objectives moving toward realization. ILG’s business attorneys help clients achieve their goals with respect to business formation, intellectual property, labor and employment, CAN-SPAM, copyright and trademark

COMMUNITY: In addition, the Lawyers at Issaquah Law Group remain active in the legal and civic community. A core commitment of our Issaquah Attorneys is community service. Our attorneys' civic involvement includes the King County Civil Rights Commission; the City of Issaquah Planning Policy Commission; the Northwest Screenwriters Guild, service as a pro tem judge. We live and work in the Pacific Northwest, and we aim to make it a better place.

In addition, through The Amateur Law Professor Blog and LinkedIn postings, we share pertinent opinions and decisions of the Washington State Supreme Court, as well as the pertinent opinions and decisions of the Washington State Courts of Appeal so that our clients can be as update to date on cutting legal issues as we are.

Ensley v. Costco Stretches Bounds of Biomechanical Testimony

Ensley v. Costco

This case arises out of a woman falling from a broken stepladder. The question that arose was whether the woman’s fall or break in the stepladder came first, leading to the other (another version of the chicken and the egg). Notably, Plaintiff herself did not know which came first, the break or the fall.

The Plaintiff’s expert witness was a biomechanic injury expert by the name of Wilson Hayes, a biomechanical engineer with a background in mechanical engineering. Rather than performing actual tests on the mechanical structure of the ladder, he simply tested potential scenarios and came to the conclusion that only one scenario was possible -- that the ladder rung broke, and caused Plaintiff to tumble. He explained that he had tested four different scenarios, and found only one plausible scenario, stating that the ladder was defective by way of construction. He also noted that a hole appeared to have been drilled poorly, which could lead to cracking. However, it does not appear he presented any evidence that it actually did so.

This highlights an important issue in expert witness testimony, especially in the area of accident reconstruction. In this case, Plaintiff presented the testimony of a biomechanical engineer. Though an expert in biomechanics, Hayes was also qualified as a mechanical engineer to present and rebut the theories of Defendant's mechanical engineer. However, Defendants appeared to have no expert of their own to rebut Hayes' speculative testimony about how the accident had occurred. Given that Plaintiff herself could not recall how the accident occurred, the ability to cross-examine Hayes on his use of speculation and to present an effective rebuttal was lost.

Additionally, the Court seems to create a sort of burden shifting in this matter, allowing the expert to testify that, although the ladders tested by Tricam did great in test result, that this did not demonstrate that Easley's stepladder was free from construction defects. In essence, shifting the presumption that a defect existed due to the fall, and making it Defendant's burden to prove their was no defect. Rather, this should have been Plaintiff's burden -- usually shown through a metallurgist -- to show that a defect existed and how the defect led to the fall.

Litigation is not just the work that happens in the courtroom. In fact, increasingly it is the work that occurs leading up to the courtroom that wins the day. This includes making sure you have the right experts for the case, which should have included a mechanical engineer, a biomechanical engineer, and a metallurgist, in order to properly rebut Plaintiff's claim. At Issaquah Law Group, we are skilled in witness selection and preparation, whether the case is a slip and fall or a massive fire loss. If you require assistance with your claim, please contact our Issaquah attorneys

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