Legal Memorandum: Reliability of an Expert's Testimony in TX

Issue: What factors must a court consider to determine if an expert’s testimony is reliable in Texas?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Expert testimony; Reliability; Factors for determination
Jurisdiction: Texas
Cited Cases: 206 S.W.3d 572
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 04/01/2013

“In determining whether expert testimony is reliable, a court should consider the factors we set out in . . . Robinson . . . as well as the expert’s experience, knowledge, and training.”*FN1 E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co. v Robinson, 923 S.W.2d 549 (Tex. 1996); Transcontinental Ins. Co. v. Crump, 330 S.W.3d 211, 215-16 (Tex. 2010); see also Mack Trucks, Inc. v. Tamez, 206 S.W.3d 572, 579 (Tex. 2006) (“[T]he criteria for assessing reliability must vary depending on the nature of the evidence.”).

“We have emphasized, however, that these factors are non-exclusive, and that they do not fit every scenario.  They are particularly difficult to apply in vehicular accident cases involving accident reconstruction testimony.”  TXI Transp. Co. v. Hughes, 306 S.W.3d 230, 235 (Tex. 2010).  “[r]ather than focus entirely on the reliability of the underlying technique used to generate the challenged opinion, as in Robinson, we have found it appropriate in cases like this to analyze whether the expert’s opinion actually fits the facts of the case.  In other words, we determine whether there are any significant analytical gaps in the expert’s opinion that undermine its reliability.  TXI Transp. Co., 306 S.W.3d at 235 (emphasis added; citations omitted).


*FN1 The six “useful considerations”  or scientific factors set out in Robinson  are:

1.   the extent to which the theory has been or can be tested;

2.   the extent to which the […]