Admissibility of Expert Opinion Evidence Test

In Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579, 592-93, 113 S. Ct. 2786, 2794, 125 L. Ed. 2d 469, 480 (1993), the United States Supreme Court established specific standards for admission of expert scientific testimony. Recently, the Daubert gate-keeping decision was expanded to apply to "'technical' and 'other specialized'" expert testimony, as well as testimony from scientific experts. See Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137, 141, 119 S. Ct. 1167, 1171, 143 L. Ed. 2d 238, 249 (1999) (citing FedREvid 702). See also Estate of Dokken, 2000 SD 9, P51, 604 N.W.2d 487, 500 (Amundson, J., concurring specially) (quoting Kumho as expanding the Daubert gate-keeping function). This Court recognized in Kuper v. Lincoln-Union Electric Co., 1996 SD 145, P41, 557 N.W.2d 748, 760, that "when the trial court is ruling on the admissibility of an expert opinion, the trial court needs to exercise its gatekeeping function" to determine that the opinion has a reliable foundation and is relevant to the case at hand. To exercise its gatekeeping function, the trial court must determine both the reliability and the relevancy of the expert's testimony. See id. In United States v. Carroll, the United States District Court addressed the Daubert and Kumho reliability prong and noted that Kumho "does not require district courts to reinvent the wheel every time expert testimony is offered in court." However, this does not allow the trial court to sit idly by and automatically admit an expert's testimony. As the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals recently stated in United States v. Velarde, 214 F.3d 1204, 1209 (10thCir), "while we recognize that the trial court is accorded great latitude in determining how to make Daubert reliability findings before admitting expert testimony, Kumho and Daubert make it clear that the court must, on the record, make some kind of reliability determination". In interpreting the court's reliability determination under Kuhmo, the court in Bacardi & Co., Ltd v. New York Lighter Co., Inc., 2000.