Sloan Valve Co. v. Zurn Indus., Inc., No. 10 C 204, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Aug. 12, 2013) (St. Eve, J.).
Judge St. Eve granted in part defendants’ (collectively “Zurn”) Daubert motion in limine to exclude plaintiff Sloan Valve’s technical expert in this patent infringement case involving flush valves for use in plumbing fixtures. Zurn argued that the expert should not be allowed to testify about willfulness issues or about life cycle testing of valves because of a lack of experience and reliable methods. Sloan Valve stipulated that the expert would not testify about the willfulness standard or about how Zurn’s actions related to the willfulness standards, for example what information was or was not relayed to outside counsel. The Court held as follows:
- The expert had sufficient qualifications. While the expert did not have specific plumbing expertise, he was sufficiently qualified. He had a degree in mechanical engineering, as well as a masters of science and doctor of philosophy in theoretical and applied mechanics. He was a registered professional engineer, a former professor of engineering, and a member of various engineering societies. And he has analyzed product designs regarding numerous patents. Finally, he had studied the wear on brass faucets.
- A battle of experts does not make the expert testimony unreliable. While Sloan Valve’s expert challenged portions of the expert’s life cycle analysis and while the expert had not performed life cycle testing in the relevant field, his background and experience were a sufficient basis of his opinions. These and any other issues could be probed upon cross-examination. Additionally, the Court considered that there was not a written standard for life cycle testing these valves. So, any expert would be performing the test or critiquing them based upon that expert’s experience.
- The expert’s opinion statements are admissible, but not those about willfulness. The Court allowed the expert’s alleged conclusory statements that the life cycle tests at issues were not an accurate simulation of real world conditions. They were expert opinions based upon experience, not merely conclusory, and might add the trier of fact. The Court, however, barred a statement that the test was developed to defeat the patent in suit and therefore were evidence of willful infringement.