526 U.S. 137 (1999), 97-1709, Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael

Docket NºCase No. 97-1709
Citation526 U.S. 137, 119 S.Ct. 1167, 143 L.Ed.2d 238, 67 U.S.L.W. 4179
Party NameKUMHO TIRE CO., LTD., et al. v. CARMICHAEL et al.
Case DateMarch 23, 1999
CourtUnited States Supreme Court

Page 137

526 U.S. 137 (1999)

119 S.Ct. 1167, 143 L.Ed.2d 238, 67 U.S.L.W. 4179

KUMHO TIRE CO., LTD., et al.

v.

CARMICHAEL et al.

Case No. 97-1709

United States Supreme Court

March 23, 1999

Argued December 7, 1998

CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE ELEVENTH CIRCUIT

Syllabus

When a tire on the vehicle driven by Patrick Carmichael blew out and the vehicle overturned, one passenger died and the others were injured. The survivors and the decedent's representative, respondents here, brought this diversity suit against the tire's maker and its distributor (collectively Kumho Tire), claiming that the tire that failed was defective. They rested their case in significant part upon the depositions of a tire failure analyst, Dennis Carlson, Jr., who intended to testify that, in his expert opinion, a defect in the tire's manufacture or design caused the blowout. That opinion was based upon a visual and tactile inspection of the tire and upon the theory that in the absence of at least two of four specific, physical symptoms indicating tire abuse, the tire failure of the sort that occurred here was caused by a defect. Kumho Tire moved to exclude Carlson's testimony on the ground that his methodology failed to satisfy Federal Rule of Evidence 702, which says: "If scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will assist the trier of fact . . ., a witness qualified as an expert . . . may testify thereto in the form of an opinion." Granting the motion (and entering summary judgment for the defendants), the District Court acknowledged that it should act as a reliability "gatekeeper" under Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579, 589, in which this Court held that Rule 702 imposes a special obligation upon a trial judge to ensure that scientific testimony is not only relevant, but reliable. The court noted that Daubert discussed four factors—testing, peer review, error rates, and "acceptability" in the relevant scientific community—which might prove helpful in determining the reliability of a particular scientific theory or technique, id., at 593-594, and found that those factors argued against the reliability of Carlson's methodology. On the plaintiffs' motion for reconsideration, the court agreed that Daubert should be applied flexibly, that its four factors were simply illustrative, and that other factors could argue in favor of admissibility. However, the court affirmed its earlier order because it found insufficient indications of the reliability of Carlson's methodology. In reversing, the Eleventh Circuit held that the District Court had erred as a matter of law in applying Daubert. Believing that Daubert was limited to the scientific context,

Page 138

the court held that the Daubert factors did not apply to Carlson's testimony, which it characterized as skill or experience based.

Held:

1. The Daubert factors may apply to the testimony of engineers and other experts who are not scientists. Pp. 147-153.

(a) The Daubert "gatekeeping" obligation applies not only to "scientific" testimony, but to all expert testimony. Rule 702 does not distinguish between "scientific" knowledge and "technical" or "other specialized" knowledge, but makes clear that any such knowledge might become the subject of expert testimony. It is the Rule's word "knowledge," not the words (like "scientific") that modify that word, that establishes a standard of evidentiary reliability. 509 U.S., at 589-590. Daubert referred only to "scientific" knowledge because that was the nature of the expertise there at issue. Id., at 590, n. 8. Neither is the evidentiary rationale underlying Daubert 's "gatekeeping" determination limited to "scientific" knowledge. Rules 702 and 703 grant all expert witnesses, not just "scientific" ones, testimonial latitude unavailable to other witnesses on the assumption that the expert's opinion will have a reliable basis in the knowledge and experience of his discipline. Id., at 592. Finally, it would prove difficult, if not impossible, for judges to administer evidentiary rules under which a "gatekeeping" obligation depended upon a distinction between "scientific" knowledge and "technical" or "other specialized" knowledge, since there is no clear line dividing the one from the others and no convincing need to make such distinctions. Pp. 147-149.

(b) A trial judge determining the admissibility of an engineering expert's testimony may consider one or more of the specific Daubert factors. The emphasis on the word "may" reflects Daubert's description of the Rule 702 inquiry as "a flexible one." 509 U.S., at 594. The Daubert factors do not constitute a definitive checklist or test, id., at 593, and the gatekeeping inquiry must be tied to the particular facts, id., at 591. Those factors may or may not be pertinent in assessing reliability, depending on the nature of the issue, the expert's particular expertise, and the subject of his testimony. Some of those factors may be helpful in evaluating the reliability even of experience-based expert testimony, and the Court of Appeals erred insofar as it ruled those factors out in such cases. In determining whether particular expert testimony is reliable, the trial court should consider the specific Daubert factors where they are reasonable measures of reliability. Pp. 149-152.

(c) A court of appeals must apply an abuse-of-discretion standard when it reviews a trial court's decision to admit or exclude expert

Page 139

testimony. General Electric Co. v. Joiner, 522 U.S. 136, 138-139. That standard applies as much to the trial court's decisions about how to determine reliability as to its ultimate conclusion. Thus, whether Daubert 's specific factors are, or are not, reasonable measures of reliability in a particular case is a matter that the law grants the trial judge broad latitude to determine. See id., at 143. The Eleventh Circuit erred insofar as it held to the contrary. Pp. 152-153.

2. Application of the foregoing standards demonstrates that the District Court's decision not to admit Carlson's expert testimony was lawful. The District Court did not question Carlson's qualifications, but excluded his testimony because it initially doubted his methodology and then found it unreliable after examining the transcript in some detail and considering respondents' defense of it. The doubts that triggered the court's initial inquiry were reasonable, as was the court's ultimate conclusion that Carlson could not reliably determine the cause of the failure of the tire in question. The question was not the reliability of Carlson's methodology in general, but rather whether he could reliably determine the cause of failure of the particular tire at issue. That tire, Carlson conceded, had traveled far enough so that some of the tread had been worn bald, it should have been taken out of service, it had been repaired (inadequately) for punctures, and it bore some of the very marks that he said indicated, not a defect, but abuse. Moreover, Carlson's own testimony cast considerable doubt upon the reliability of both his theory about the need for at least two signs of abuse and his proposition about the significance of visual inspection in this case. Respondents stress that other tire failure experts, like Carlson, rely on visual and tactile examinations of tires. But there is no indication in the record that other experts in the industry use Carlson's particular approach or that tire experts normally make the very fine distinctions necessary to support his conclusions, nor are there references to articles or papers that validate his approach. Respondents' argument that the District Court too rigidly applied Daubert might have had some validity with respect to the court's initial opinion, but fails because the court, on reconsideration, recognized that the relevant reliability inquiry should be "flexible," and ultimately based its decision upon Carlson's failure to satisfy either Daubert 's factors or any other set of reasonable reliability criteria. Pp. 153-158.

131 F.3d 1433, reversed.

BREYER, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, Parts I and II of which were unanimous, and Part III of which was joined by Rehnquist, C. J., and O'Connor, Scalia, Kennedy, Souter, Thomas, and Ginsburg,

Page 140

JJ. Scalia, J., filed a concurring opinion, in which O'Connor and Thomas, JJ., joined, post, p. 158. Stevens, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part, post, p. 159.

Joseph P. H. Babington argued the cause for petitioners. With him on the briefs were Warren C. Herlong, Jr., John T. Dukes, Kenneth S. Geller, and Alan E. Untereiner.

Jeffrey P. Minear argued the cause for the United States as amicus curiae urging reversal. With him on the brief were Solicitor General Waxman, Assistant Attorney General Hunger, Deputy Solicitor General Wallace, Anthony J. Steinmeyer, and John P. Schnitker.

Sidney W. Jackson III argued the cause for respondents. With him on the brief were Robert J. Hedge, Michael D. Hausfeld, Richard S. Lewis, Joseph M. Sellers, and Anthony Z. Roisman.[*]

Page 141

JUSTICE BREYER delivered the opinion of the Court.

In Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993), this Court focused upon the admissibility of scientific expert testimony. It pointed out that such testimony is admissible only if it is both relevant and reliable. And it held that the Federal Rules of Evidence "assign to the trial judge the task of ensuring that an expert's testimony both rests on a reliable foundation and is relevant to the task at hand." Id., at 597. The Court also discussed certain more specific factors, such as testing, peer review, error rates, and "acceptability" in the relevant scientific community, some or all of which might prove helpful in determining the reliability of a particular scientific "theory or technique." Id., at 593-594.

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9405 practice notes
  • 241 B.R. 729 (Bkrtcy.D.Colo. 1999), 90 B 00001 E, In re MiniScribe Corp.
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Bankruptcy Courts Tenth Circuit
    • November 24, 1999
    ...knowledge." That question was answered by the Supreme Court in its more recent opinion in Kumho Tire Co., Ltd. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137, 119 S.Ct. 1167, 143 L.Ed.2d 238 In Kumho, the proffered expert was called to opine that a particular tire had failed due to a manufacturing or des......
  • 355 B.R. 462 (Bkrtcy.D.Del. 2006), 01-01139, In re W.R. Grace &Co.
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Bankruptcy Courts Third Circuit
    • December 14, 2006
    ...of specific factors neither necessarily nor exclusively applies to all experts or in every case." Kumho Tire Co., Ltd. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137, 142, 119 S.Ct. 1167, 143 L.Ed.2d 238 Daubert's requirement that the expert testify to scientific knowledge--conclusions supported by good ......
  • 420 B.R. 418 (Bkrtcy.E.D.Tenn. 2009), 07-32016, In re Webb Mtn, LLC
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Bankruptcy Courts Sixth Circuit
    • November 25, 2009
    ...same level of intellectual rigor that characterizes the practice of an expert in the relevant field." Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137, 119 S.Ct. 1167, 1176, 143 L.Ed.2d 238 Appraisers may fall within the scope of expert witnesses, and " the essential elements of the rea......
  • 447 F.Supp.3d 786 (S.D.Iowa 2019), 3:18-cv-00040, Beving v. Union Pacific Railroad Co.
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 8th Circuit
    • August 14, 2019
    ...function to ensure that the expert testimony is not only relevant but reliable. Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137, 141, 119 S.Ct. 1167, 143 L.Ed.2d 238 (1999); see Daubert, 509 U.S. at 589, 113 S.Ct. 2786. The Court focuses on the "principles and metho......
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9146 cases
  • 241 B.R. 729 (Bkrtcy.D.Colo. 1999), 90 B 00001 E, In re MiniScribe Corp.
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Bankruptcy Courts Tenth Circuit
    • November 24, 1999
    ...knowledge." That question was answered by the Supreme Court in its more recent opinion in Kumho Tire Co., Ltd. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137, 119 S.Ct. 1167, 143 L.Ed.2d 238 In Kumho, the proffered expert was called to opine that a particular tire had failed due to a manufacturing or des......
  • 355 B.R. 462 (Bkrtcy.D.Del. 2006), 01-01139, In re W.R. Grace &Co.
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Bankruptcy Courts Third Circuit
    • December 14, 2006
    ...of specific factors neither necessarily nor exclusively applies to all experts or in every case." Kumho Tire Co., Ltd. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137, 142, 119 S.Ct. 1167, 143 L.Ed.2d 238 Daubert's requirement that the expert testify to scientific knowledge--conclusions supported by good ......
  • 420 B.R. 418 (Bkrtcy.E.D.Tenn. 2009), 07-32016, In re Webb Mtn, LLC
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Bankruptcy Courts Sixth Circuit
    • November 25, 2009
    ...same level of intellectual rigor that characterizes the practice of an expert in the relevant field." Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137, 119 S.Ct. 1167, 1176, 143 L.Ed.2d 238 Appraisers may fall within the scope of expert witnesses, and " the essential elements of the rea......
  • 447 F.Supp.3d 786 (S.D.Iowa 2019), 3:18-cv-00040, Beving v. Union Pacific Railroad Co.
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 8th Circuit
    • August 14, 2019
    ...function to ensure that the expert testimony is not only relevant but reliable. Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137, 141, 119 S.Ct. 1167, 143 L.Ed.2d 238 (1999); see Daubert, 509 U.S. at 589, 113 S.Ct. 2786. The Court focuses on the "principles and metho......
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59 firm's commentaries
  • Copyright Infringement By Mark Miller
    • United States
    • JD Supra United States
    • December 17, 2010
    ...Metro-Golden-Meyer, Inc., 772 F.2d 505 (9th Cir. 1985); MCA, Inc. v. Wilson, 677 F.2d 180 (2d Cir. 1981). Kumko Tire Co. v. Carmichael, 119 S.Ct. 1167 (1999). 209 Universal Furniture International Inc. v. Colleqione Europa, Inc., 599 F. Supp. 2d 648 (M.D.N.C. 2009) (Plaintiff recovered Defe......
  • Georgia Supreme Court rejects challenges to state version of Daubert
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    ...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. which governs th......
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    ...courts are to apply an abuse of discretion standard in reviewing a trial judge's decision applying Daubert. Kumho Tire v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137, 119 S.Ct. 1167 (1999): Holds that the basic gatekeeping obligation of Daubert applies to all specialized "expert" testimony, not just......
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    ...Metro-Golden-Meyer, Inc., 772 F.2d 505 (9th Cir. 1985); MCA, Inc. v. Wilson, 677 F.2d 180 (2d Cir. 1981). Kumko Tire Co. v. Carmichael, 119 S.Ct. 1167 (1999). 222 Universal Furniture International, Inc. v. Colleqione Europa, Inc., 599 F. Supp. 2d 648 (M.D.N.C. 2009) (Plaintiff recovered Def......
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163 books & journal articles
  • The Biased Expert Witness in Louisiana Tort Law: Existing Mechanisms of Control and Proposals for Change
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    • Louisiana Law Review Nbr. 61-1, October 2000
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    ...31 Wake Forest L. Rev. 497 (1996). See also Model Code of Professional Responsibility EC 5-9 (1981) ("The roles of an advocate and of a witness are inconsistent; the function of an advocate is to advance or argue the cause of another, while that of a witness is to state facts objectively."). [15]......
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    • Iowa Law Review Nbr. 103-2, January 2018
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    ...standard for admission of scientific evidence). 302. Id. at 580; FED. R. EVID. 702. 303. FED. R. EVID. 702; Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137, 137, 147 (1999). 304. Daubert, 509 U.S. at 592–93. 305. Id. at 589. 306. Bourjaily v. United States, 483 U.S. 171, 175–76 (1987). 307. Dall......
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    • Iowa Law Review Nbr. 95-5, July 2010
    • July 1, 2010
    ...decisions holding against parties who failed to introduce important evidence). [63] E.g., FED. R. EVID. 702; Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137, 141–42 (1999) (holding that courts have flexibility in determining the reliability of expert testimony). For one among many critiques, see......
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    • Iowa Law Review Nbr. 93-3, March 2008
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    ...knowledge,' an inference or assertion must be derived by the scientific method."). [22] See generally Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137 (1999) (excluding expert evidence for failure to fulfill the Daubert factors); Gen. Elec. v. Joiner, 522 U.S. 136 (1997). In Joiner, concurri......
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2 provisions
  • Martial Manual; amendments,
    • United States
    • Federal Register December 04, 2001
    • November 28, 2001
    ...testimony is reliable in light of Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc. 509 U.S. 579 (1993) and Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137 (1999) (holding that gatekeeper function applies to all expert testimony, not just testimony based on science).'' Amend Mil.R.Evid. 703 to read a......
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    • United States
    • Federal Register June 06, 2001
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    ...testimony is reliable in light of Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993) and Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137 (1999) (holding that gatekeeper function applies to all expert testimony, not just testimony based on Amend Mil. R. Evid. 703 to read as follows......

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