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Florida Licensor and North Carolina Licensee Battle Over Admissibility of Experts in Cold Fusion Reactor Case

Any time you and your business become involved in commercial litigation, your case may require (or at least benefit from) the inclusion of expert witness opinion evidence to strengthen your claims. Knowing all of the procedural steps necessary to get your expert proof admitted is as important as obtaining a strong expert. When it comes to getting your expert’s testimony on the record in your case, rely upon skilled Florida business litigation attorneys with experience handling these types of cases.

One recent case in which the rules for admitting experts came into play was one with a novel factual background. People familiar with nuclear energy research in the 1980s may remember the phrase “cold fusion,” which refers to creating nuclear energy at or near room temperatures. In 2011, Andrea, an Italian inventor, allegedly invented a cold fusion reactor called “eCat.” The inventor and his Florida corporation entered into a licensing agreement with a North Carolina entity that granted the licensee a limited license to use the inventor’s intellectual property, according to the inventor’s lawsuit.

After entering the agreement, the licensee allegedly never paid the fee to which the parties agreed in the license agreement. The relationship fell apart, and the licensor sued the licensee for breach of contract and misappropriation of trade secrets.

In almost any breach of contract case, there’s the potential for bringing in expert witnesses to enhance your case. If your case involves lost profits, you or your opponent might seek to bring in an economist or another industry expert to provide an expert opinion about the true and exact amount of profits lost. In a case like this one, scientists with expertise in cold fusion could also provide substantial added strength to your case.

Of course, the same is true for your opponent, for whom expert opinions may serve to weaken your case. That’s why, when possible, it helps to keep out your opponent’s experts. In the inventor’s case, he and his corporation sought to exclude the expert report of one of the licensee’s experts, and the licensee sought to exclude the expert opinions and testimony of the inventor’s expert.

Federal courts in Florida follow something known as the Daubert standard for determining whether expert evidence is admissible in a case. In the 11th Circuit (which includes Florida), this standard, based upon a 1993 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, requires three things:  proof that the expert is qualified, proof that the methodology that the expert used is scientifically reliable, and proof that the expert’s opinions will help the jury (or judge in a bench trial) determine a relevant factual issue.

This standard led the trial court in the inventor’s case to admit the licensee’s expert’s report and to allow some of the inventor’s expert’s opinions. One of the opinions that the plaintiff’s expert sought to offer was excluded because the inventor did not provide proof that the methodology used to generate that opinion was scientifically reliable.

Whether your case is about economic issues or physics issues, there’s a possibility that it may come down to a “battle of the experts.” If that happens, you need to be sure that you have the expert evidence you need and that you’ve done everything necessary to get that evidence admitted. The diligent South Florida business litigation attorneys at Stok Kon + Braverman can help with these and other aspects of your commercial dispute. Our team has been helping businesses protect their rights and interests for many years and is ready to get to work for you.

Contact us online or by calling (954) 237-1777 to schedule your consultation and find out how this firm can help you protect your interests.

More blog posts:

Two Little Words: How Even a Single Word Pair Can Make All the Difference in Your Florida Forum Selection Clause, Florida Business Lawyers Blog, Nov. 10, 2017

Nutritional Supplement Company Allowed to Use Expert’s Opinion on Lost Profits in Florida Contract Breach Case, Florida Business Lawyers Blog, March 15, 2017


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