Expert witness OT discussion:
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
I'm not quite that cynical about experts. But, there are definitely times when it irritates me I have to pay an expert to testify about something that I don't believe requires an expert opinion. But, I don't wear the black robe, so I do what I have to.
I was also involved in a case where the Court asked me to step in and review a proposed settlement and offer my opinion about the reasonableness of the settlement. These things happen all the time they are called friendly settlements and the Court has to decide how to apportion the settlement when there is a death or a minor child. In that case, it was a pretty hefty settlement (in excess of $500,000), but the expert fees were almost $200,000. Normally that would be outrageous and it would have been a disservice to the client. But, it was a case where liability was really questionable. The expert report put it over the edge. If the expert had not done such an excellent and complete job, I would not have been persuaded and I'm sure the insurance company that paid out the settlement would not have been persuaded. So, in that case, the expert fees were incredibly high, but without the expert I suspect there would have been no recovery.
I do agree in many cases that the hiring of an expert and the charges are quite a racket. And it is one of the reasons litigation can be so expensive.
When I was in law school, I almost accepted an offer to work for a firm that was involved in the subrogation claims for the World Trade Center collapse on 9/11. There was (obviously) BILLIONS AND BILLIONS at stake. I'm sure the lawyers on both sides made a lot of money, but I suspect that there were some experts involved in the case that hit the lottery when they were retained.