positive, competent, or relevant evidence from which a favorable inference may be drawn concerning these two elements. Regarding Sheila Nichols, however, we find that the plaintiff has sufficiently created a genuine issue of material fact.
I. Dr. Sfier's Affidavits
Volkswagen first asserts that the plaintiffs' evidence fails to establish an inference that either of the decedents suffered and died as a result of the fire that broke out after the collision. On this issue, the plaintiffs rely almost exclusively on the affidavit testimony of Dr. Jorge Sfier. The plaintiffs claim that these affidavits establish an issue of fact to the effect that both plaintiffs' decedents suffered and died of inhalation asphyxia caused by breathing lethal levels of carbon monoxide produced by the fire.
We find the affidavits of Dr. Sfier wanting in several respects as to both decedents, and ultimately insufficient so as to create a genuine issue of material fact in favor of the estate of Moss. Dr. Sfier's "Supplemental Report and Affidavit," dated September 28, 1989, was neither signed nor sworn to by the doctor. Accordingly, we strike that affidavit as inadmissible. Next, the August 31, 1989 affidavits provide almost nothing regarding Dr. Sfier's competence to testify to the matters contained in them. The affidavit merely states that Dr. Sfier is a licensed physician practicing in Chicago. No practice area or place of employment is given. In fact, the affidavit does not even offer an address for the doctor. On this point, however, we will give the plaintiffs the benefit of the doubt at this stage as to Dr. Sfier's qualifications as an expert to testify to the matters in his affidavit.
We next observe that the plaintiffs contend on summary judgment that the evidence, gleaned from Dr. Sfier's affidavits, shows that both decedents died from inhaling lethal amounts of carbon monoxide. In their complaint, however, the plaintiffs allege that both decedents burned to death. Unrefuted deposition testimony, given by Dr. Edmund R. Donoghue, the Deputy Chief Medical Examiner for Cook County, suggests that there is a substantial difference between a situation in which a person actually burns to death through exposure to flames where there is an abundant supply of oxygen and a situation in which a person dies of asphyxiation through exposure to an abundance of carbon monoxide caused by combustion and an increasing lack of oxygen, and where the person may or may not be directly exposed to flames. See Donoghue Dep. at 22-32. Here too, however, we will give the plaintiffs the benefit of the doubt and consider the plaintiffs' allegation that the decedents burned to death as embracing either situation.
Dr. Sfier also bases neither of his opinions as to the cause of decedents' deaths upon a reasonable degree of medical certainty. Lacking that foundation, the doctor's opinion is normally inadmissible under Federal Rule of Evidence 702 and 703. Nevertheless, we are willing to infer for the purposes of summary judgment that this foundation problem is one that may be cured.
We shall therefore consider the substantive merit of Dr. Sfier's affidavits as they relate to the issues of proximate cause and conscious pain and suffering of each of the decedents.
II. Lamont Moss
Dr. Sfier's affidavit fails to establish an issue of material fact concerning the proximate cause of Moss' death and his conscious pain and suffering. Nowhere in his affidavit concerning Moss does Dr. Sfier affirmatively state that he believes that the cause or a contributing cause of Moss' death was either the fire or the asphyxiation. On that issue Dr. Sfier opines only that "it is possible that asphyxia made a contribution to his death." That assertion hardly amounts to positive proof, but by its own terms is the embodiment of speculation. Moreover, Dr. Sfier indicated that he believed that the possibility of asphyxiation as a cause of death would arise only "if there was no severance of the spine." He acknowledges that the record does not indicate whether or not Moss' spine actually was severed. Thus, Dr. Sfier's testimony reveals that his speculation is further lacking in foundation. In the absence of evidence of the predicate condition underlying Dr. Sfier's conjecture, that conjecture must be regarded as describing only a hypothetical circumstance.
In addition to all of this speculation, Dr. Sfier ultimately concludes that even if "the spinal cord was not severed, without asphyxia from the fumes it is possible but remote this driver could have survived the accident." We regard this conclusion as further indication that even Dr. Sfier agreed with the opinions of the two doctors from the Cook County Medical Examiner's office that Moss died instantaneously having dislocated a vertebra as a result of the collision forces of the accident and that he was not conscious and suffering pain prior to his death.
Because the plaintiffs have failed to adduce any affirmative medical opinion that Moss' cause of death was related to the fire and that Moss experienced conscious pain and suffering because of the fire, we grant summary judgment in Volkswagen's favor as to the claim brought by the Estate of Moss.
III. Sheila Nichols-Mangun
We find that Dr. Sfier's affidavit testimony concerning Nichols-Mangun sufficiently raises an issue of fact as to the presently contested elements of proximate cause and conscious pain and suffering. It is not disputed that Nichols died from asphyxia. The reason for the asphyxia, however, is clearly in dispute. Unlike the opinion offered regarding the cause of Moss' death, Dr. Sfier's opinion as to the cause of Nichols-Mangun' asphyxia and death affirmatively concludes that
The likelihood of her problem was a large concentration of [CO] that caused her to stop breathing, lose consciousness and made her unable to move out of the car. . . . She probably died as a result of heat and excessive [CO] in the resulting accident, combustion and flames. . . . This patient died of inhalation asphyxia in the accident.