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Russ Vignali is a tenacious advocate who focuses his litigation practice on the defense of products liability matters and related commercial disputes in New York state and federal courts. He also handles a variety of claims in the general liability area and has experience with related insurance coverage matters. Russ joined Wilson Elser in 1982 out of law school and developed his service approach within a firm culture that values a high level of responsiveness and open communication with clients.

The discovery phase in your products liability lawsuit has been completed and it’s time to decide the next course of action before proceeding to trial. One possibility, of course, is to move for summary judgment to knock out the entire case pending against your client. However, you have concluded that, despite the strengths of your case, there are enough “issues of fact” to make the exercise probably useless.

Have you considered instead a Motion for Partial Summary Judgment? Perhaps you should.

The first step is to determine whether your jurisdiction permits motions for partial summary judgment to be filed. Rule 56 of The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure specifically calls for “Partial” summary judgments in its very title. In my home state, New York’s CPLR 3212(e) reads, “In any other action summary judgment may be granted as to one or more causes of action, or part thereof, in favor of any one or more parties, to the extent warranted, on such terms as may be just.” Thus, there is little doubt that under the right reading of the law and facts, a partial summary judgment might be allowed. Continue Reading The Motion for Partial Summary Judgment: The Litigator’s Often Forgotten Tool

In this third and last installment of our three-part series examining the type of deposition questioning that can derail your opponent’s expert and set up a successful Daubert challenge, we will look at Daubert’s insistence that the expert’s opinions be based on “reliable methodology” before opinions can be presented to the jury.

What exactly does a reliable methodology under Daubert mean? Essentially, it requires that the expert’s opinions be based on information gathered in the same manner as a scientist would undertake before he or she reaches a conclusion about the design of the product at issue. The distinction is between using sound scientific procedures as opposed to unsupported speculation to develop a hypothesis, analyze and test against it, and reach a conclusion.

Continue Reading Cross-Examining the Expert Witness in a PL Case Part III: Challenging the Methodology

In the first part of this series, we examined how effective deposition questioning about an expert’s education, training and experience can ultimately call into serious question the expert’s qualifications to serve as an expert witness at trial and survive a subsequent Daubert motion. We examined how some experts, despite their seemingly extensive and impressive credentials, may actually have no experience in the relevant field or may be exaggerating the depth of their past work experience. This may ultimately lead to the Court finding that the expert is offering opinions in an area about which they know nothing.
Continue Reading Cross-Examining the Expert Witness in a PL Case Part II: What Are the Relevant Facts & Data?

Deposing your adversary’s liability expert is not only a chance to delve into the details of the expert’s opinions, but the deposition also presents a great opportunity for defense counsel to explore the sustainability of the expert’s opinions going forward. In the context of a products liability case, the plaintiff’s expert’s deposition, if used wisely, can set up an effective challenge to the expert’s proffered opinions under the Federal Rules and can result in the expert’s eventual disqualification. Perhaps nothing is more devastating to the Plaintiff’s case than the loss of his expert for all, or even part, of the case.
Continue Reading Asking the Right Questions at the Expert’s Deposition to lay the foundation for your client’s Daubert Challenge

New York’s appellate departments are now unified with respect to their interpretation of Article 10(a) of the Hague Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters (Hague Service Convention). The issue of whether Article 10(a) of the Hague Convention permits service of process by mail to a foreign country in the absence of an objection from the state of destination has now been resolved in New York. The First Department in Mutual Benefits Offshore Fund v. Zeltser, 2016 N.Y. Slip Op. 04344, earlier this year reversed itself and joined the state’s three other appellate departments in holding that service of process by mail under those circumstances was indeed permissible.
Continue Reading New York Appellate Courts Now Unified on Hague’s “Send versus Serve” Issue