The Importance of Due Diligence when Working with Third-Party Experts by Richard A. Pollack, CPA

Posted on March 10, 2020 by Richard Pollack

A recent decision by the U.S District Court Eastern District of Wisconsin to exclude testimony from expert witnesses in a class-action suit represents an important point that legal counsel may forget when engaging damages experts and forensic accountants: do not rely blindly on the qualifications, work product or assumptions of knowledge specialists with whom they work.

In the matter of Scott Weaver v. Champion Petfoods USA Inc and Champion Petfoods LP, the court found testimony provided by plaintiff’s experts in consumer surveys and economic analysis to be based on flawed surveys that did not align with plaintiff’s theory of liability. Had the damages expert tested the findings of the specific-knowledge experts for relevance, reasonability and reliable application to the plaintiff’s claims, it is possible that the court would have accepted the testimony and survey results provided by those witnesses.

Trial lawyers and their damages experts should confirm from the onset that specific knowledge experts have the appropriate competence and capabilities to perform engagements in accordance with professional standards and applicable legal and regulatory requirements. They should also take the time to test those experts’ findings to ensure they are based on appropriate and sufficient evidence relative to the matters of the case.

While the American Institute of CPAs Auditing Standards do not apply specifically to litigation engagements, they are useful for damages experts to refer to when working with knowledge specialists in valuations, property appraisals, engineering, medicine, science and other fields of expertise. Following are some of the key factors you may want to consider:

The Forensic and Advisory Services Group at Berkowitz Pollack Brant has a long history of working with legal counsel and providing expert witness testimony and reports that have withstood the scrutiny of the courts. For more information, please call (305) 379-7000 or email Richard Pollack at