Automobile Insurance v. Electolux Home Products


New York Law Journal


Judge Cathy Seibel

Automobile Insurance compensated insured Gargiulo for a 2007 fire allegedly caused by Electrolux's defectively and/or negligently designed clothes dryer. The court denied Electrolux's efforts to preclude testimony by the insurer's expert Beauregard—who opined that the dryer design led to an accumulation of lint near the gas burner—under Federal Rule of Evidence 702 and Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals. Beauregard's opinion was based on observation of lint accumulations in 41 dryers, all involved in fires. Some 8.8 million Electrolux dryers are in use annually in the United States. The court found Beauregard's opinions based on sufficient data, utilized appropriate methodology, and were sufficiently reliable. Potential sampling bias arising from examination of lint accumulation only in dryers involved in fires did not render Beauregard's opinion so unreliable as to be excluded entirely. Such bias was subject to cross examination and went to the weight, rather than the admissibility, of Beauregard's expert testimony. Electrolux's argument that Beauregard's testing of the 41 dryers was not conducted under normal operating conditions also went to the weight, not admissibility, of his opinions.

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