Good Rulings on Experts and Summary Judgment from Mississippi


According to the novels penned by a certain Mississippi lawyer (and the movies based on said novels), corporate defendants are always bad, their lawyers are worse, and juries end up pounding both. Think of Jon Voight during his closing argument in The Client, wagging his finger at the jury while scolding them to "be just, be just," and then the jury burning out a calculator to arrive at their stratospheric verdict. It's a morality play, pure and simple -- with an emphasis on the "simple." Reality matters hardly at all. Legal rules matter even less.

Reality is different. We've been on panels with judges from Mississippi, and they have consistently impressed us as judges who are smart and serious-minded. They care a lot about following the rules. It's nice to highlight a recent case from Mississippi where the court applied the law carefully and a device company got a fair shake. In Smith v. Johnson & Johnson, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 98719 (S.D. Miss. Aug. 31, 2011), the plaintiffs claimed that vaginal mesh surgical material was defective and lacked adequate warnings. The defendant filed a summary judgment motion. As part of their effort to fend off that motion, the plaintiffs submitted reports and affidavits from their experts. Using an expert to cobble together an issue of material fact is easy, right? Maybe not, especially if the court is paying close attention.

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