• March 22, 2011

Update (March 22, 2011):   Regular readers will recognize from the subject line that this is the case involving tragic murders and an alarm system that failed to prevent them.  U.S. District Court Judge John R. Tunheim (D. Minn.) issued an 87-page order yesterday on summary judgment motion and motions to exclude experts.  At page 55, the judge sets out the facts on which he relies to permit the case to go to the jury for punitive damages against ADT Security Services, Inc.

(Why would ADT want PR like this? (They wouldn’t.)  Why wouldn’t they settle this case? One may speculate that the plaintiffs and their lawyers expect millions if not tens of millions of dollars (or perhaps even hundreds of millions in the hopes of a huge punitive damage verdict?)).  This is only speculation but it is hard to think of other circumstances to explain why ADT (or plaintiffs) would persist in this lengthy and costly litigation.)

(Judge Tunheim’s discussion of the proposed expert testimony in his opinion, its appropriate scope and limitations, is worthwhile reading for litigators.  Trial lawyers must work carefully with experts so that they can, together, understand the span of expertise on the one hand, and courts’ willingness to countenance opinions at the outer edges of that expertise on the other hand.)

Original Post (August 31, 2010):  Minnesota Litigator has previously covered the ADT v. Swenson case pending before U.S. District Court Judge John R. Tunheim (D. Minn.) (here and here).  The horrendous calamity that gave rise to the case  is widely known.

What happened that horrific night, September 22, 2006 in the Lee home?  When, exactly, did the security alarm go off?  Was there a struggle between attacker and victims, or were the victims shot in their bed?  To what extent can “experts” tell us what exactly happened (or did not happen)?  Can “experts” say one way or the other?  Is their testimony helpful at all?  This is the key question that Judge Tunheim confronts when considering the litigants’ challenges to the other side’s experts.

A link to plaintiffs’ counsel’s “Daubert” brief is here.   The brief is lengthy, thorough, and clearly the product of a great deal of work, reflecting the substantial stakes of this litigation.

Note that one issue covered in the 56-page brief is alleged “spoliation” of evidence from forensic testing performed on the alarm system.  Incidentally, Minnesota Litigator recently covered a spoliation case to be argued this week before the Minnesota Supreme Court.

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