Kumho Tire v Carmichael, 971709

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtBreyer
PartiesKUMHO TIRE CO. v. CARMICHAEL (97-1709) 131 F.3d 1433, reversed. SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES 119 S.Ct. 1167 143 L.Ed.2d 2381709 KUMHO TIRE COMPANY, LTD., et al., PETITIONERS v. PATRICK CARMICHAEL, etc., et al. ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE ELEVENTH CIRCUIT [
Decision Date23 March 1999
Docket Number971709

526 U.S. 137
119 S.Ct. 1167
143 L.Ed.2d 238

KUMHO TIRE CO. v. CARMICHAEL
(97-1709)
131 F.3d 1433, reversed.

SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES

No. 97 1709

KUMHO TIRE COMPANY, LTD., et al., PETITIONERS v. PATRICK CARMICHAEL, etc., et al.

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

[March 23, 1999]

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.

This case requires us to decide how Daubert applies to the testimony of engineers and other experts who are not scientists. We conclude that Daubert's general holding setting forth the trial judge's general "gatekeeping" obligation applies not only to testimony based on "scientific" knowledge, but also to testimony based on "technical" and "other specialized" knowledge. See Fed. Rule Evid. 702. We also conclude that a trial court may consider one or more of the more specific factors that Daubert mentioned when doing so will help determine that testimony's reliability. But, as the Court stated in Daubert, the test of reliability is "flexible," and Daubert's list of specific factors neither necessarily nor exclusively applies to all experts or in every case. Rather, the law grants a district court the same broad latitude when it decides how to determine reliability as it enjoys in respect to its ultimate reliability determination. See General Electric Co. v. Joiner, 522 U.S. 136, 143 (1997) (courts of appeals are to apply "abuse of discretion" standard when reviewing district court's reliability determination). Applying these standards, we determine that the District Court's decision in this case not to admit certain expert testimony was within its discretion and therefore lawful.

I

On July 6, 1993, the right rear tire of a minivan driven by Patrick Carmichael blew out. In the accident that followed, one of the passengers died, and others were severely injured. In October 1993, the Carmichaels brought this diversity suit against the tire's maker and its distributor, whom we refer to collectively as Kumho Tire, claiming that the tire was defective. The plaintiffs rested their case in significant part upon deposition testimony provided by an expert in tire failure analysis, Dennis Carlson, Jr., who intended to testify in support of their conclusion.

Carlson's depositions relied upon certain features of tire technology that are not in dispute. A steel-belted radial tire like the Carmichaels' is made up of a "carcass" containing many layers of flexible cords, called "plies," along which (between the cords and the outer tread) are laid steel strips called "belts." Steel wire loops, called "beads," hold the cords together at the plies' bottom edges. An outer layer, called the "tread," encases the carcass, and the entire tire is bound together in rubber, through the application of heat and various chemicals. See generally, e.g., J. Dixon, Tires, Suspension and Handling 68 72 (2d ed. 1996). The bead of the tire sits upon a "bead seat," which is part of the wheel assembly. That assembly contains a "rim flange," which extends over the bead and rests against the side of the tire. See M. Mavrigian, Performance Wheels & Tires 81, 83 (1998) (illustrations).

A. Markovich, How To Buy and Care For Tires 4 (1994).

Carlson's testimony also accepted certain background facts about the tire in question. He assumed that before the blowout the tire had traveled far. (The tire was made in 1988 and had been installed some time before the Carmichaels bought the used minivan in March 1993; the Carmichaels had driven the van approximately 7,000 additional miles in the two months they had owned it.) Carlson noted that the tire's tread depth, which was 11/32 of an inch when new, App. 242, had been worn down to depths that ranged from 3/32 of an inch along some parts of the tire, to nothing at all along others. Id., at 287. He conceded that the tire tread had at least two punctures which had been inadequately repaired. Id., at 258 261, 322.

Despite the tire's age and history, Carlson concluded that a defect in its manufacture or design caused the blow-out. He rested this conclusion in part upon three premises which, for present purposes, we must assume are not in dispute: First, a tire's carcass should stay bound to the inner side of the tread for a significant period of time after its tread depth has worn away. Id., at 208 209. Second, the tread of the tire at issue had separated from its inner steel-belted carcass prior to the accident. Id., at 336. Third, this "separation" caused the blowout. Ibid.

Carlson's conclusion that a defect caused the separation, however, rested upon certain other propositions, several of which the defendants strongly dispute. First, Carlson said that if a separation is not caused by a certain kind of tire misuse called "overdeflection" (which consists of underinflating the tire or causing it to carry too much weight, thereby generating heat that can undo the chemical tread/carcass bond), then, ordinarily, its cause is a tire defect. Id., at 193 195, 277 278. Second, he said that if a tire has been subject to sufficient overdeflection to cause a separation, it should reveal certain physical symptoms. These symptoms include (a) tread wear on the tire's shoulder that is greater than the tread wear along the tire's center, id., at 211; (b) signs of a "bead groove," where the beads have been pushed too hard against the bead seat on the inside of the tire's rim, id., at 196 197; (c) sidewalls of the tire with physical signs of deterioration, such as discoloration, id., at 212; and/or (d) marks on the tire's rim flange, id., at 219 220. Third, Carlson said that where he does not find at least two of the four physical signs just mentioned (and presumably where there is no reason to suspect a less common cause of separation), he concludes that a manufacturing or design defect caused the separation. Id., at 223 224.

Carlson added that he had inspected the tire in question. He conceded that the tire to a limited degree showed greater wear on the shoulder than in the center, some signs of "bead groove," some discoloration, a few marks on the rim flange, and inadequately filled puncture holes (which can also cause heat that might lead to separation). Id., at 256 257, 258 261, 277, 303 304, 308. But, in each instance, he testified that the symptoms were not significant, and he explained why he believed that they did not reveal overdeflection. For example, the extra shoulder wear, he said, appeared primarily on one shoulder, whereas an overdeflected tire would reveal equally abnormal wear on both shoulders. Id., at 277. Carlson concluded that the tire did not bear at least two of the four overdeflection symptoms, nor was there any less obvious cause of separation; and since neither overdeflection nor the punctures caused the blowout, a defect must have done so.

Kumho Tire moved the District Court to exclude Carlson's testimony on the ground that his methodology failed Rule 702's...

To continue reading

Request your trial
9796 practice notes
  • Ebenhoech v. Koppers Industries, Inc., No. 00-5641(JBS).
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of New Jersey
    • December 24, 2002
    ...(Def.'s Br. at 14.) The Supreme Court re-examined the trial judge's "gatekeeping" function under Daubert in Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137, 119 S.Ct. 1167, 143 L.Ed.2d 238 (1999). The Court found that when a party questions the expert's factual basis, data, principles, methods, ......
  • Jarvis v. Ford Motor Co., No. 92 Civ. 2900(NRB).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • October 27, 1999
    ...the admissibility of Sero's testimony under Daubert, 509 U.S. 579, 113 S.Ct. 2786, 125 L.Ed.2d 469 and Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137, 119 S.Ct. 1167, 143 L.Ed.2d 238 (1999). At the hearing, Sero postulated yet a third scenario. We found, however, that the third hypothesis did n......
  • USA. v. Charley, No. 98-2087
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (10th Circuit)
    • August 27, 1999
    ...those objections. Accordingly, we review those rulings under an abuse of discretion standard.10 See Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael, 119 S. Ct. 1167, 1176 (1999);11 United States v. Haslip, 160 F.3d 649, 653 (10th Cir. 1998), cert. denied, 119 S. Ct. 1346 A. Rule 16 Violation We agree with Def......
  • Trujillo v. Rio Arriba Cnty. ex rel. Rio Arriba Cnty. Sheriff's Dep't, No. CIV 15-0901 JB/WPL
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. District of New Mexico
    • December 19, 2016
    ...680 F.3d 1253, 1256 (10th Cir. 2012)(citing Daubert, 509 U.S. at 589 (scientific knowledge); Kumho Tire Co. Ltd. V. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137, 141 (1999)(technical and other specialized knowledge)(Kumho Tire)). The United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit has stated that, general......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
9910 cases
  • Ebenhoech v. Koppers Industries, Inc., No. 00-5641(JBS).
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of New Jersey
    • December 24, 2002
    ...(Def.'s Br. at 14.) The Supreme Court re-examined the trial judge's "gatekeeping" function under Daubert in Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137, 119 S.Ct. 1167, 143 L.Ed.2d 238 (1999). The Court found that when a party questions the expert's factual basis, data, principles, methods, ......
  • Jarvis v. Ford Motor Co., No. 92 Civ. 2900(NRB).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • October 27, 1999
    ...the admissibility of Sero's testimony under Daubert, 509 U.S. 579, 113 S.Ct. 2786, 125 L.Ed.2d 469 and Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137, 119 S.Ct. 1167, 143 L.Ed.2d 238 (1999). At the hearing, Sero postulated yet a third scenario. We found, however, that the third hypothesis did n......
  • USA. v. Charley, No. 98-2087
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (10th Circuit)
    • August 27, 1999
    ...those objections. Accordingly, we review those rulings under an abuse of discretion standard.10 See Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael, 119 S. Ct. 1167, 1176 (1999);11 United States v. Haslip, 160 F.3d 649, 653 (10th Cir. 1998), cert. denied, 119 S. Ct. 1346 A. Rule 16 Violation We agree with Def......
  • Trujillo v. Rio Arriba Cnty. ex rel. Rio Arriba Cnty. Sheriff's Dep't, No. CIV 15-0901 JB/WPL
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. District of New Mexico
    • December 19, 2016
    ...680 F.3d 1253, 1256 (10th Cir. 2012)(citing Daubert, 509 U.S. at 589 (scientific knowledge); Kumho Tire Co. Ltd. V. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137, 141 (1999)(technical and other specialized knowledge)(Kumho Tire)). The United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit has stated that, general......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
7 books & journal articles
  • The Roberts Court and Supreme Court's New Antitrust Law for the Global Knowledge and Entrepreneurial Economy in a “Perfect Storm” of Danger—And Opportunity
    • United States
    • Antitrust Bulletin Nbr. 54-1, March 2009
    • March 1, 2009
    ...509 U.S. 579 (1993).54 522 U.S. 136 (1997) (a tort case alleging that exposure to PCBs “pro-moted” plaintiff’s small cell lung cancer).55 526 U.S. 137 (1999) (holding Daubert applied to all experts, and rulingthat plaintiff’s’ tire expert did not meet Daubert standards and thus was prop-erl......
  • Clothes Don’t Maketh the Man Nor a Criminal Profiler an Expert Witness
    • United States
    • International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology Nbr. 64-12, September 2020
    • September 1, 2020
    ...Criminology 64(12)Gilstrap v. State, 215 Ga. App. 180, 450 S.E.2d 436 (Ga. Ct. App. 1994).Kumho Tire Company, Ltd v. Carmichael. 526 U.S. 137. Supreme Court of U.S.A. 1999.Masters v. People 58 P .3d 979, 983 (Colo. 2002).People v. Schmidt. 2002 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 9490.R. v. Clarke, 2004......
  • USING BURDENS OF PROOF TO ALLOCATE THE RISK OF ERROR WHEN ASSESSING DEVELOPMENTAL MATURITY OF YOUTHFUL OFFENDERS.
    • United States
    • William and Mary Law Review Vol. 63 Nbr. 4, March 2022
    • March 1, 2022
    ...Thomas D. Albright, Why Eyewitnesses Fail, 114 PROC. NAT'LACAD. SCIS. 7758, 7759 (2017). (24.) See, e.g., Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137, 150-51 (1999) (stressing the importance of proffered experts identifying "the particular circumstances of the particular case at (25.) See Fa......
  • Economic Expert Evidence
    • United States
    • Antitrust Bulletin Nbr. 61-3, September 2016
    • September 1, 2016
    ...ofstatistical expert testimony).56. See Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharms., Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993).57. See Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137, 147 (1999) (holding that a court’s gatekeeping function as recognized inDaubert applies not only to scientific testimony but all expert testi......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT