Saturday, April 23, 2016

Expert Witnesses in the Armstrong Case: Are their Opinions Valid?

It’s been over three years since Lance Armstrong admitted to doping throughout his career, but the lawsuit between the United States Postal Service (USPS) and Armstrong continues. The main question that is still unresolved is whether or not the USPS actually suffered losses due to sponsoring Armstrong with more than $30 million between 1998 and 2004. If the USPS can prove they experienced losses due to sponsoring Armstrong and subsequently learning of Armstrong’s doping, then they will have strong evidence to win the case. On the other hand, if Armstrong can prove that the USPS didn’t experience any loss, he will have a better chance at winning the case. How is the dispute resolved? By hiring expert witnesses at $700 – 900 per hour.

Both sides hired expert witnesses to testify in their favor. Armstrong hired a brand consultant at $700 per hour while the USPS hired a marketing professor at his “discounted” rate of $900 per hour. Both sides say that the other side’s expert witness didn’t have all of the facts or failed to account for everything in determining if a loss was suffered. The real question, however, is whether or not the expert witnesses are essentially being paid to find whatever makes them the most money. For example, if the brand consultant that Armstrong hired found that the USPS actually did suffer a loss, would Armstrong actually pay him or continue to use his services? Probably not. The same is true for the marketing professor hired by the USPS. Overall, especially in high-profile cases, expert witnesses stand to make a lot of money by sharing their opinion. However, whose opinions are they actually sharing? That’s the question that needs to be considered in cases where an expert witness is involved.

See this article on USA Today for more information about the ongoing lawsuit between Armstrong and the USPS.

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