A New York and New Jersey Lawyer Who Represents Policyholders and Beneficiaries in Life Insurance Denial Cases

I read an article today in the New York Law Journal about how a Long Island judge precluded testimony proffered by State Farm Insurance concerning a computerized “fire modeling” test to show that the fire that destroyed the plaintiff’s home was the result of arson.

When this testimony was going to be introduced, the judge ordered a Frye hearing to determine if the computerized test was “generally accepted” in the scientific community. Finding that it was not, he ruled that the insurance company could not introduce the test results.

The plaintiff was seeking $600,000 representing the value of his home. State Farm declined to pay on the basis that he committed arson.

The introduction of scientific literature and test results is an important issue in today’s litigation climate, and the result of a case can turn on it. I’ve written on the subject (you can find the link in my bio page). Questionable scientific studies and methods, which have been devised solely for one side to win in litigation, can unfairly alter the course of a trial and influence the verdict. While attorneys who practice in a specific field and their experts may be aware of the dubious scientific validity, judges and juries may not. Unfortunately, the law is not always well-equipped to handle these issues when they arise, and courts must adjudicate them on a case-by-case basis.

As the plaintiff’s attorney said, the computer model “piqued my interest because I’ve been in the field 25 or 30 years and I had never heard of ‘computer fire modeling.'”

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