Category: Expert Witness

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Google Antitrust Investigations: FTC, EU, state attorneys general… More to come?

The ABA Journal reported this week that Google was subpoenaed by the Missouri attorney general (Josh Hawley) for antitrust and consumer protection violations. Google has been placed on notice and the investigation is ongoing. Earlier this year, the Mississippi attorney general sued Google for similar violations and the European Union fined the company $2.7 billion for consumer protection violations. Are you seeing a pattern? Antitrust litigation against Google seems to be full speed ahead.

According to the article, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) completed an investigation against Google in 2013. The FTC concluded, “We have not found sufficient evidence that Google manipulates its search algorithms to unfairly disadvantage vertical websites that compete with Google-owned vertical properties.” Evidently, Mr. Hawley does not agree with the FTC finding so he decided to investigate on his own.

When investigating and prosecuting cases involving sophisticated technology and antitrust issues, attorneys depend on experts to perform complex investigations and unravel complex issues. Who will the attorneys general and defense counsel turn to in support of these involved matters? Let’s take a look at the issues:

Antitrust / Consumer Protection:

To understand more about the laws governing antitrust issues in the US please visit the FTC for a brief summary.

Essentially, United States antitrust law is a collection of federal and state laws regulating the conduct and organization of businesses, generally to promote fair competition for the benefit of consumers.  As the FTC page indicates, there are three main laws covering antitrust behavior: the Sherman Act 1890, the Clayton Act 1914 and the Federal Trade Commission Act 1914. For more than 100 years, “The antitrust laws have had the same basic objective: to protect the process of competition for the benefit of consumers, making sure there are strong incentives for businesses to operate efficiently, keep prices down, and keep quality up.” The laws also basically prevent collusion or cartel-like practices and monopolies.

The Missouri attorney general has said, “There is strong reason to believe that Google has not been acting with the best interest of Missourians in mind.” It appears the Mr. Hawley believes Google is doing things which are not promoting, and possibly impeding, fair competition. Further, their algorithms may be directing users to Google-owned properties rather than websites offering services which compete with those Google-owned properties. As Google is the 800 pound gorilla when it comes to Internet searching, any tactics directing users to their own goods or services could be considered a restraint of trade.

In order to prove Google manipulates algorithms for their own benefit, the Missouri attorney general is probably going to have to employ some expert consultants who may later testify as expert witnesses. Google’s defense counsel will probably have to do the same. I assume Google will have many of the pre-litigation consultants in-house.

During the investigation, Mr. Hawley will likely need to consult with antitrust and antitrust economics experts to determine if actions by Google are negatively impacting consumers or restraining trade. Furthermore, he may need to employ consultants to conduct market research to have statistical evidence of the impact on consumers.

Algorithms:

Most of us (is this too presumptive?) have some sort of rough idea about search algorithms and what they accomplish. We understand it to be a mathematical equation used to search data and deliver a result based on the search terms we utilized.

After reading my last paragraph, I have to say there are probably far more accurate and simplistic descriptions of an algorithm. I may not have properly described how they work. That’s because I’m not a computer scientist. Luckily, neither the prosecution nor defense will be calling Nick Rishwain as an expert witness in Missouri v. Google.

The legal representatives from both sides are going to need assistance in understanding search algorithms and how algorithms might be manipulated by Google. They are going to need to know this quite early in the case in order to request and deliver the proper documentation during the investigation and discovery stages should Missouri file a lawsuit.

Both sides will likely need the assistance of information and Internet technology consultants. More specifically, I can see the need for information science & architecture experts as well as search engine optimization experts.

As the ABA Journal article made abundantly clear: Google has faced many legal actions related to antitrust and it appears even more legal actions lie ahead. It should be noted that Google is not alone in this area. There appears to be increased chatter about antitrust actions against Amazon as well. If the US Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission avoid taking action, we may see more attorneys general choosing to investigate and possibly prosecute the corporate giants for dominating the market.

For more information, check out the Experts.com Antitrust Articles section.


Updated: 07/24/2019:

Well, as we noted when we last wrote about the Google antitrust matter, more was likely to come. Yesterday, we learned the Department of Justice (DOJ) has opened an antitrust investigation into some of the world’s largest tech companies, although they did not mention the companies by name.

According to Ars Technica, the DOJ’s Antitrust Division opened an investigation which would “consider the widespread concerns that consumers, businesses, and entrepreneurs have expressed about search, social media, and some retail services online.”

From this, we can only take a guess that they mean they’ll be investigating Google, Facebook, Amazon, and some others. Other pundits assume Apple will also be investigated. If the investigation is a broad as reports are indicating, we can assume others will find themselves in the cross hairs at some point in the future.

Expert WitnessExpert Witness TestimonyLawyersLitigationMedical

Opioid Crisis – An increase in addiction medicine and pain management expert witnesses.

In the nearly 8 years that I’ve been with Experts.com, I have noticed a massive increase in the number of addiction medicine and pain management expert witnesses marketing their services with our company. Between 2010, when I joined Experts.com, and today, the increase has been nearly five-fold.

Is this increase a surprise? Based on what we’re seeing in the news, the answer is no. The United States is experiencing an opioid epidemic. According to CNN’s Opioid Crisis Fast Facts, “more than two million of Americans have become dependent on or abused prescription pain pills and street drugs.” CNN further explains, “during 2015, there were 52,404 overdose deaths in the United States, including 33,091 (63.1%) that involved an opioid. That’s an average of 91 opioid overdose deaths each day.”

Just last week, I spoke to one expert witness who experienced an opioid-related death in his family.  The same day, hours apart, another expert began promoting his pain management and addiction medicine services on our site. This epidemic is impacting millions of families throughout our country. As a result of this epidemic, and much of the overdoses stemming from prescription medication, we are beginning to see significant litigation in the area of opioid-based pharmaceuticals.

Our Opioid Litigation Experiences:

Experts.com has processed more than a handful of expert witness referrals related to opioids. The cases have ranged from prescription abuse in family law settings to overdose issues resulting in wrongful death actions. Probably the most interesting opioid-related matter was as follows: general counsel for a mining company in a small town discovered the townspeople were using methadone at a rate approximately 5 times higher than the national average. Many citizens of the town were also employees of the mining company. They grew concerned about the potential liabilities of employees operating heavy equipment while ingesting powerful pain killers. The company decided to do some testing which triggered some privacy concerns and potential litigation. We have delivered toxicologists, addiction medicine specialists, and pain management professionals in dozens of different opioid-related cases.

Recent Litigation:

In the last few years, we have seen stories of both civil and criminal litigation related to the opioid epidemic, even before it was claimed to be a crisis. Here are a few of the cases you may want to follow:

Civil Litigation:

There have been many lawsuits against Purdue Pharma (maker of OxyContin) since the early 2000’s. As one article explains, more and more state and local governments are launching lawsuits against the manufacturers and distributors of heavy-duty pain medications. The frequency of these lawsuits is almost weekly.  In addition to Purdue Pharma, Cardinal Health, Teva Pharmaceuticals, Janssen, and others are targeted.

In July of this year, one of the lawyers, Michael Moore, who targeted tobacco companies in the 1990’s, began urging state lawsuits against the drug makers. By August, an Oregon County sued pharmaceutical companies for $250 million for allegedly persuading physicians to over prescribe opioids. As of September, Attorneys General in 37 states were urging insurance companies to do more to curb the opioid epidemic.

What can we deduce from the high-profile coverage of civil suits against the makers of pain killers? In my assessment, the worst is yet to come for the drug makers. This does not mean the drug makers are defenseless against the lawsuits. After all, there are others in the supply chain to be blamed: doctors, pharmacies, and the patients themselves. Over the long-term, the pain medication lawsuits are likely to be very costly for manufacturers and distributors.

Criminal Litigation:

For the sake of brevity, I’m going to ask you to assume that there is significant drug related crime and we’re going to skip the standard (possession and distribution) opioid cases. Where I have noticed a substantial increase, both in the news and in requests for expert witnesses, is in criminal prosecutions of prescribing physicians and pharmacists.

As CNN described, “doctors are increasingly being held accountable — some even facing murder charges — when their patients overdose on opioid painkillers they prescribed.” The article further explains that the DEA took action against 88 doctors in 2011 and 479 doctors in 2016. One of the doctors described has been convicted of murder. I see at least one new story a week where a doctor, or pharmacist, is being held responsible for the excessive amounts of pain killers prescribed.

The numbers described in the article above, combined with a more aware public, lead me to believe we’ll see even larger numbers of DEA actions against doctors when the 2017 statistics are available.

Other Legal Issues:

As you can tell, I focused on the two areas that I’ve noticed the largest increase in visible litigation. We have processed many other expert witness referrals associated with opioid issues. Many overdose cases are resulting in medical malpractice actions as well as actions brought by medical boards for ethical violations by doctors.  We often see the requests for expert witnesses relating to emergency medicine physicians, toxicologists, pharmacy and pharmacology experts, and more.

Opioid litigation may very well be the “tobacco” litigation of our time.  As such, we are confident that we’ll have more to write about and discuss in the future.

AccountingComputer ForensicsExpert WitnessExpert Witness TestimonyForensic Accounting

Paul Manafort Indicted: What expert witnesses can we expect to see from defense and prosecution?

Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the US Presidential Election has resulted in the indictment of Paul Manafort and one of his business associates, Rick Gates. It has been reported that a third individual, George Papadopolous, has pleaded guilty for making false statements to the FBI.

None of this is particularly surprising. On Friday we learned the first indictments would be handed down as early as today, and that is exactly what happened. As of this writing, Paul Manafort has turned himself into the FBI’s Washington Field Office.

ABC News reported the list of charges against Mr. Manafort and Mr. Gates. The 12 counts include: “conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, serving as an unregistered agent of a foreign principal, false and misleading Foreign Agents Registration Act statements, false statements, and seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts.”

We are not writing to take any political side and it should be noted that an indictment does not mean the defendants are guilty of the charges. In fact, they are innocent until proven guilty. Rather, we wanted to discuss the expertise which may come into play in this matter.

What types of expert witnesses can you expect to see?

Forensic Accountants:

Based on the counts enumerated above, it appears the FBI has followed the money. As such, we expect the forthcoming prosecution will hinge on financial transactions and accounting related issues. As stated above, Manafort and Gates were charged with seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts in addition to conspiracy to launder money. If money is flowing in and out of multiple bank accounts forensic accountants are going to be needed to analyze the transactions and explain those transactions to the trier of fact.

Money Laundering / Anti-Money Laundering Experts:

Are you surprised to hear this type of expertise exists? Money laundering experts may have a background in forensic accounting, financial fraud, banking, and banking compliance. Again, there was a charge of failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts. Failure to report these accounts might be a compliance issue. The prosecution could argue such a failure was purposeful and intended to evade reporting. Whereas, the defense may contend failure to report was accidental or negligent. We expect to see both sides presenting expert evidence on financial transactions and reporting.

Computer/ Digital Forensics:

Nothing in the counts of the indictment specify a digital forensics expert will be necessary. We are assuming that many of the financial transactions were done electronically and therefore attributing the transactions to the defendants may require electronic discovery and other digital forensic investigation / analysis.

This list should not be viewed as exhaustive. Looking at the counts in the indictment, it appears the upcoming case will be heavily litigated on financial matters. Going forward, we will look for news items related to forensic accounting and inform our readers as we know more.

Expert WitnessLivestreamingMarketingSocial Media

Social Media Marketing World 2016 – Lessons Learned for Expert Witnesses

SMMW16Held at the San Diego, California Convention Center on April 17, 18 and 19, 2016, the Social Media Marketing World 2016 (SMMW16) was well-received with over 3,000 participants from around the world. Networking was the name of the game, with recognized brands from Airbus, Allergan, and Amazon to Verizon, Walmart, and World Vision. Platform representatives from Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, and many others were front and center imparting valuable social media marketing tactics.

There were a couple of major takeaways from this year’s event. Several things you need to know in order to better promote your expert witness services:

  • You Need To Be On Social Media:

If you are not yet active on social media you are losing precious brand awareness, engagement, and community building opportunities. At a time when consumers and clients are more informed than ever before, you need to have a social presence so your customers can “know, like, and trust you.” Attorneys cannot get to know the real, authentic version of you if you are absent from these platforms.

It is not necessary to be present on every available social media platform. Having a strategy is important. If you are looking to target attorneys, it is important to know how to find them and how to get their attention. We have services to assist you in building your presence on the correct social platforms.The priority is building relationships within your community. If you are regularly creating content and posting it to social media platforms without a community, you may find your content is not being read, watched, shared, or cared about. If you build those relationships and others care about you individually, they will share your content. It was great to see several of those in our live-streaming community in attendance at the #SMMW16, including:

  • Build An Online Community

A community on social media is not terribly different than an offline community. There are leaders, managers, and community members. Usually there is an interconnecting of these individuals for some shared purpose (or shared interest). For example, Experts.com is active in the live video / live-streaming community. There are many active Members in this community and the one thing we all have in common is we participate in creating live video. Although our businesses may be different, we still support others in the live streaming community by sharing their content.

Mitch-and-Jeff

Mitch Jackson, Esq. and Jeff Weinstein, Esq.

The priority is building relationships within your community. If you are regularly creating content and posting it to social media platforms without a community, you may find your content is not being read, watched, shared, or cared about. If you build those relationships and others care about you individually, they will share your content.

Nick and Jeff Weinstein

Ivan Raiklin, Esq. and Nick Rishwain

It was great to see several of those in our live-streaming community in attendance at the #SMMW16. Just a few with whom we were able to spend significant time include:

  • Live Video is the Future of Marketing

Here are just a few facts that were shared by Mike Stelzner, CEO of the Social Media Examiner (host of the conference).

  • 73% of marketers use video in 2016
  • Only 14% of marketers are using Live Video
  • In May of 2015, there were 2 billion videos viewed daily
  • In February of 2016, there were 8 billion videos viewed daily

The following platforms have bet big on live video (a.k.a. live streaming, social video): Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat, Blab. Each of these companies has a major live-stream component or is entirely live video as a product/tool. Facebook now gives priority to video content in its news feed. Other content will fall below live video in your news feed.

Live video allows you to increase the” know, like, and trust” factor better than anything else, according to social selling strategist, Kim Garst.

Our friend, Mitch Jackson, Esq., has said he wants to “see and hear the expert” before hiring him or her as an expert witness. Seeing and hearing an expert witness provides endless value to attorneys as they get an idea of how you sound and perform. Live video allows you to do this authentically.

As live video is the future of marketing, we highly recommend getting comfortable with live streaming sooner rather than later. Join Us to become a pioneer in the live video community. Improve your visibility, professionalism, and authenticity with live video marketing. If you do not know how to begin, reach out to us at info@experts.com.

Nick Rishwain, JD.
Vice President of Client Relations, Experts.com.

Expert WitnessExpert Witness TestimonyForensic DNA

Suzanna Ryan – Forensic DNA Expert Interview

In this one hour interview offered by Experts.com and moderated by Nick Rishwain, Forensic DNA Expert, Suzanna Ryan, expounds upon her experience and expertise.  Through targeted questions and answers, viewers get a better understanding of what services a Forensic DNA Expert Witness can offer to attorneys. Ms. Ryan also explains the circumstances under which she is retained as a consultant, unrelated to litigation.

Suzanna Ryan, MS, D-ABC, is a former forensic DNA analyst and forensic DNA Technical leader with 15 years of experience in the field of Forensic Serology and DNA Analysis. She has had the opportunity to work for both public and private DNA laboratories and has testified numerous time for both the prosecution and the defense.

Ms. Ryan has been accepted as an expert witness in forensic serology and DNA analysis over 60 times in her career in state superior courts, state supreme court, federal court, and military court, and has been deposed as an expert witness in both criminal and civil trials over 20 times.

View Suzanna Ryan’s Profiles on Experts.com

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Expert Witnesses Embrace Digital Media Platforms – Interview with Attorney Mitch Jackson

On October 14, 2015, Experts.com interviewed Expert Witness and 2013 California Lawyer of the Year, Mitch Jackson, on the benefits of Expert Witnesses embracing digital media to promote their services. To watch the interview, click the link below.

Mitch Jackson was admitted to the California Bar in 1986 and immediately opened up his own practice representing victims of personal injury and wrongful death. In 2009, Mr. Jackson was named Orange County “Trial Lawyer of the Year,” by the Orange County Trial Lawyers Association. In 2013, he received the California Lawyer Attorneys of the Year (CLAY) Award for litigation. According to California Lawyer Magazine, the CLAY Award recognizes attorneys who have changed the law, substantially influenced public policy or the profession, or achieved a remarkable victory for a client or for the public and have made a profound impact on the law. Mr. Jackson is also an expert witness in legal malpractice matters.

Mr. Jackson is an active social media influencer with a strong presence on Twitter, Facebook, Periscope, Blab, Instagram, among others. In addition to his legal practice, Mitch Jackson maintains several websites promoting: livestreaming, communication, Rotary service, and, most importantly, “Being Human.” To learn more about Mitch Jackson, his practice, and his social influence, visit the following sites:

http://jacksonandwilson.com/
http://streaminglawyer.com
http://human.social/

Experts.com was established to allow professionals a platform to showcase their areas of Expertise. Since 1994, we have been providing millions of users worldwide with access to specialized knowledge. We believe our members should have control over monetizing their specialized knowledge and expertise. In this day in age of high technology, there is no need for a broker or middle man to mark up fees or market your expertise. Put your best foot forward with Experts.com.

Accident Investigation & ReconstructionExpert WitnessForensic Accident InvestigationPublic TransportationTransportation

ADA Compliance: Bus & Motorcoach Liability

A recent article by Member, Ned Einstein, President of Transportation Alternatives, a passenger transportation and automotive consortium engaged in consulting and forensic accident investigation, touches upon the safety and liability of buses and motorcoaches transporting passengers in wheelchairs. Mr. Einstein effectively communicates the legalities involved with wheelchair securement and ADA compliance. Click the link to read the full article:

Ned Einsten“Buses and Motorcoaches: Safety v. Liability” 

Ned Einstein has been qualified as an Expert Witness in accident analysis, testimony, and mediation in vehicle and pedestrian accidents involving transit, paratransit, schoolbus, motorcoach, special education, non-emergency medical transport, taxi, shuttle, and child / elderly transport systems and services.

View Ned Einstein’s Profiles on Experts.com.

Expert WitnessExpert Witness Testimony

Expert Witness Credibility Can Make or Break a Case

In the forefront of legal news today is the Glossip v. Gross death penalty challenge / lethal injection case before the Supreme Court. Set for oral argument today, the Justices must determine if Oklahoma’s use of the common surgical sedative midazolam fails to make prisoners unconscious during lethal injections, violating the Eighth Amendment’s protection against “cruel and unusual punishment.”

According to ProPublica, the case took a turn when Oklahoma’s pivotal witness, Dr. Roswell Lee Evans, testified in trial that inmates “would not sense the pain” of an execution after receiving a high dose of midazolam. That, in and of itself, is not enough to turn heads but legal and medical professionals took note when Dr. Evans, a board certified psychiatric pharmacist and the dean of the Harrison School of Pharmacy at Auburn University in Alabama, testified that he has never used midazolam on a patient, nor has he ever personally induced anesthesia.

To make matters worse, 150 pages of his 300 page expert report were printouts from the consumer website Drugs.com, whose disclaimer reads, “not intended for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.” Furthermore, pundits were grumbling at the fact that Dr. Evans had not published a paper related to his pharmacology research since 1996.

Last month, a brief was filed by 16 independent professors of pharmacology disputing Dr. Evans’ claim. The professors, according to Probublica, contended that, “It is widely recognized in the scientific and medical community that midazolam alone cannot be used to maintain adequate anesthesia…”

Caution SignCaution all Expert Witnesses! Credibility is Everything.

Once general competency is satisfied, an Expert Witness’ knowledge of the subject matter affects the weight and credibility of his testimony. Since a general rule of evidence is that a witness may only testify to what they have personally observed or encountered through their five senses, this “Sunday Pundit” is concerned for the good doctor. His lack of experience with the midazolam, his unreliable sources, and his lack of peer support do not bode well for him or the state of Oklahoma.

Ponder the The Daubert standard  for evaluating the reliability and relevance for “good science” and make your own judgment:
1) whether the scientific theory can be (and has been) tested;
2) whether the scientific theory has been subjected to peer review and publication;
3) the known or potential rate of error of the scientific technique; and
4) whether the theory has received “general acceptance” in the scientific community.

We are interested in your comments. Please feel free to share.

Expert WitnessSearch Engine OptimizationSEO

Expert Witness Marketing – The Importance of Publications

Marketing in the Expert Witness arena should not be a stagnant process. In such a competitive market, there must be more than a simple description of services. When relevant information is provided to potential clients, the chances of being retained are much higher.

The goal in any marketing strategy is exposure to the widest number of viewers. For Expert Witnesses and Consultants, publications are an extremely effective tool to help cast a wide net. Member Articles and Case Scenarios posted on Experts.com receive phenomenal exposure on search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing.

Informative topics with Search Engine Optimized titles can garner excellent exposure simply because there is a need for such knowledge. For instance, Member Peter Wade, who worked with the United States Postal Service for over 30 years, many of those in administrative and supervisory positions, posted an article entitled, “Certified Mail Versus Certificate of Mailing: What’s the Difference?This article has been viewed 18,013 times to date (See View Charts). Based on the numbers, there is a definite need for the dissemination of this knowledge

Experts.com Article View Source Chart

Experts.com Article View Source Chart

Experts.com Article Frequency Chart

Experts.com Article Frequency Chart

Case Studies and Case Scenarios are also an excellent alternative to writing something academic and time consuming. Case Studies allow attorneys to read fact patterns that may be similar to cases on which they are working. It also provides a sample of analytical and report writing abilities. Party names and other identifying information can be altered for confidentiality purposes. The format is a simple checklist with which attorneys are familiar:

  • Explain the facts of the case (the represented parties; how the case arose; allegations, etc.)
  • Explain the technical issues of the case
  • Give an analysis / opinion
  • Explain how the case concluded

For those involved in promoting their Expert Witness or Consulting services, publications serve as the “squeaky wheel.” The more squeak, the more oil. The numbers reflect that professional interaction with the targeted market and business community can favorably affect the amount of exposure received and, more importantly, the bottom line.

ConsultantsExpert WitnessIndustrial DesignLitigationPatent Infringement

Precision is Key to Patent Indefiniteness Challenge

Prior to June of 2014, the standard for patent review made it nearly impossible to invalidate a patent claim for “indefiniteness” or ambiguity. The  U.S. Supreme Court drastically changed that standard in Nautilus, Inc. v. Biosig Instruments, Inc.

Nautilus brought the case before the Supreme Court based on the notion that “the patent system is best served when patent claims are precise, definite, and certain. Ambiguous and indefinite patents stifle competition and encourage unnecessary litigation.” The Supreme Court agreed saying that the ambiguity the lower court used to evaluate the patent would “leave courts and the patent bar at sea without a reliable compass.” In its unanimous decision, the Supreme Court asked the court of appeals to reevaluate whether Nautilus infringed on Biosig’s patent design based on stricter standards.

Although the Nautilus case involved a utility patent, it is suggested by Industrial Design expert, Robert John Anders, that this standard would most likely apply to design patent drawings as well. In a recent article, Mr. Anders posits that the use of break lines or brackets with “indeterminant” measurements could also lead to ambiguity, making design drawings vulnerable to patent infringement challenges.

Image

Read the full article here: Design Patent Drawing Conventions: Break Lines That May Be Fatal

Robert John Anders is a member of the Industrial Designers Society of America and the Human Factors and Ergonomic Society with more than 40 years of professional experience. Mr. Anders has been retained as an Industrial Design Expert for over 17 years.