Just days after ending a disappointing football season, USC scored a major legal victory in the California Supreme Court. In Sargon Enterprises v. University of Southern California, 2012 DJAR 15846, a Court of Appeals ruling permitting expert testimony on potential lost profits was reversed. This case is significant as it brings California law on the admissibility of expert testimony more in line with the federal standard.
The case involved a small dental implant company suing USC for breaching a contract to clinically test a newly patented product. The Supreme Court held that the trial judge had a duty as a “gatekeeper” to exclude speculative expert testimony that the dental implant company suffered more than $1 billion in lost profits had USC properly completed the clinical testing. The Court’s rationale for excluding such speculative expert testimony was explained by distinguishing what would have happened, as opposed to what might have happened. In the spirit of the holiday season, the decision may be summarized as follows-“if ands or buts were candy and nuts, every day would be Christmas.”