In my September 2016 blog post, The Impact of the Smart Home Revolution on Product Liability and Fire Cause Determinations, I forecast that “dumb products made smart by connecting to the internet will present a new layer of complexity when a failure occurs.” When a product fails and causes property damage or bodily injury, experts are frequently tasked with assessing the root cause for the failure, which can lead to a claim or litigation against a potentially responsible third party. In the age of the Internet of Things (IoT) will experts who have knowledge, skill and training sufficient to address potential root cause failures with a “dumb” version of a product have the requisite expertise to address the root cause failure with a “smart” version of the product − and withstand the challenge to their qualifications and methodology in court? The courts are beginning to grapple with this.

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florida mapFlorida’s first appellate review under Daubert occurred in Perez v. Bell South Telecommunications, Inc., 39 Fla. L. Weekly D 685b (April 24, 2014). The Third District Court of Appeals became the first Florida appellate court to apply the Daubert standard to uphold a decision by a trial court, excluding an expert from testifying at trial. The trial court had reviewed the expert’s opinion under the Frye standard that was applicable at the time it was deciding the issue. However, the appellate court correctly stated in its opinion that the law governing the admissibility of an expert’s opinion in Florida was the Daubert standard, not the Frye standard since the legislature recently changed the law. As a result, the Third District Court of Appeals decided in Perez to apply the Daubert standard in lieu of the Frye standard, retroactively. Nonetheless, the appellate court affirmed the trial court’s exclusion of the plaintiff’s expert.
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