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Providing Opposing Expert’s Report

By: Dennis
J. Ryan
, Forensic Document Examiner

times, the issue comes up as to whether an expert should see the opposing
expert’s report. In the initial phone call or email, the attorney may inform
the expert that opposing counsel has retained an expert, but they are not sure
of his or her name. Other times, the attorney may casually include the opposing
expert’s report with the initial paperwork that they submit to the expert.

There are
two schools of thought on whether an opposing expert’s report should be
disclosed to the other expert. One school of thought is not to disclose the
other expert’s report. There are reasons why one could argue not to disclose
the other expert’s report. The principal reason is so that the expert can
conduct their own independent examination. There are also some instances in
which the attorney is not aware that a report has been written by the opposing expert,
and they fail to inquire about the opposing expert’s report. In some
arbitration cases where discovery is “fast and loose,” there is no duty to turn
over the opposing expert’s report.

One must
be cautious in situations where the opposing expert has written a report, but
the attorney chooses to instead disclose the expert and their findings in some
type of expert disclosure. In this case, these expert disclosures replace the
opposing expert’s report, and the original report is never disclosed. Some of these
expert disclosures do not actually reflect the findings of the expert. In this
situation, the expert has written a report, but the attorney has taken that
report and editorialized the
report into a disclosure that can portray the expert’s findings out of context so
that it will better support his client’s position. Rarely, if ever, does the
expert see this disclosure, and a possible disparity exists with their findings
and what the attorney is putting forth in the disclosure. In the federal
courts, sometimes it is called the “702 letter.” This letter is written pursuant
to the Federal Rules of Evidence Rule 702 Testimony of Expert Witnesses. In
either scenario, the attorney can prepare the disclosure without the expert
getting a final review. This may create a difficult situation for the expert,
who now needs to explain why their findings are different than the expert

The second
school of thought is to provide the expert with the opposing expert’s report. In
this setting, the expert is aware that the opposing expert has written a
report, and a copy of that report is turned over to the expert being retained. This
method is the preferred method for several reasons. First and foremost, reviewing
an opposing expert’s report gives the other expert a list of the items that the
opposing looked at in their examination. Did both experts get the same material
to examine? If one expert examined the original material, and the other expert
saw only pictures of the material, the later expert is working at a
disadvantage. This is a very important question and can remove a lot of the
guesswork and surprises at any later point. Some attorneys may “cherry pick”
what they give their expert and withhold some crucial pieces of evidence. The
attorney will do this in order to try and influence the expert’s opinion. This
is counterproductive and borders on unethical. Any expert wants to be on the
same “level playing field” as the other expert in the case.

reason for viewing the opposing expert’s report is to give the expert to review
the opposing expert’s opinion and determine if the conclusions that they have
reached are based on sound principles that are generally expected in their
field of expertise. No expert should draw a conclusion unless it is backed up
with empirical data supporting their conclusions. An expert that draws
conclusions that are not based on empirical data is likely an expert that is
lacking the requisite training in that area of
expertise or one that has “gone out on the limb” in their conclusions. This is
where peer review is so important in any case where an expert has been retained.

happens in the situation when there is a request by an attorney to critique the
opposing expert’s report? That critique, if written, should be done separately
and apart from the expert’s report of their findings. The report detailing
their findings is a scientific report of the findings of the expert. There is no
place in that report for a critique of an opposing expert’s report. Any critique
may best be done in testimony and not written in a report format. An expert
that critiques another expert’s report can be seen as vindictive and




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