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LG Electronics v. Whirlpool Corp.

July 22, 2010

CASE LG ELECTRONICS
v.
WHIRLPOOL CORP.



Name of Assigned Judge or Magistrate Judge Amy J. St. Eve

Sitting Judge if Other than Assigned Judge

DOCKET ENTRY TEXT

Plaintiff's motion to exclude survey evidence and the expert report of Whirlpool's expert Dr. Ravi Dhar [377] is denied.

O[ For further details see text below.] Notices mailed by Judicial staff.

STATEMENT

Plaintiff LG Electronics U.S.A., Inc. ("LG") has filed a motion to exclude the opinions and testimony of Dr. Ravi Dhar, Defendant Whirlpool Corporation's ("Whirlpool") expert. For the reasons set forth in detail below, the Court denies the Motion.

LEGAL STANDARD

"The admissibility of expert testimony is governed by Federal Rule of Evidence 702 and the Supreme Court's opinion in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579, 113 S.Ct. 2786, 125 L.Ed.2d 469 (1993)." Lewis v. Citgo Petroleum Corp., 561 F.3d 698, 705 (7th Cir. 2009). Rule 702 provides, in relevant part, that "[i]f scientific, technical or other specialized knowledge will assist the trier of fact[,] . . . a witness qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training or education, may testify thereto in the form of an opinion. . . ." Id. "It also requires that: (1) the testimony must be based upon sufficient facts or data; (2) it must be the product of reliable principles and methods; and (3) the witness must have applied the principles and methods reliably to the facts of the case." Happel v. Walmart Stores, Inc., 602 F.3d 820, 824 (7th Cir. 2010).

Courtroom Deputy KF Initials:

Under the expert-testimony framework, courts perform the gatekeeping function of determining prior to admission whether the expert testimony is both relevant and reliable. See id.; United States v. Pansier, 576 F.3d 726, 737 (7th Cir. 2009) ("To determine reliability, the court should consider the proposed expert's full range of experience and training, as well as the methodology used to arrive [at] a particular conclusion."). In doing so, courts employ a three-step analysis: "[T]he witness must be qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education[;] the expert's reasoning or methodology underlying the testimony must be scientifically reliable; and the testimony must assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue." Ervin v. Johnson & Johnson, Inc., 492 F.3d 901, 904 (7th Cir. 2007) (internal quotations and citations omitted); see also Pansier, 576 F.3d at 737. As the Seventh Circuit instructs, "'[t]he focus of the district court's Daubert inquiry must be solely on principles and methodology, not on the conclusions they generate.'" Winters v. Fru-Con Inc., 498 F.3d 734, 742 (7th Cir. 2007) (quoting Chapman v. Maytag Corp., 297 F.3d 682, 687 (7th Cir. 2002)). "The goal of Daubert is to assure that experts employ the same 'intellectual rigor' in their courtroom testimony as would be employed by an expert in the relevant field." Jenkins v. Bartlett, 487 F.3d 482, 489 (7th Cir. 2007) (quoting Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137, 152, 119 S.Ct. 1167 (1999)).

BACKGROUND

LG sued Whirlpool for false advertising in violation of Section 43(a) the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a), regarding its steam dryers. LG asserts both literal and implied falsity theories under the Lanham Act. The thrust of LG's claim is that Whirlpool uses the word "steam" in its ads and in the name of its Duet(r) Steam Dryer, and that such use is literally false and misleading because the Duet(r) Steam Dryer does not truly use steam, but instead uses a mist of cold water sprayed into a warm dryer drum.

Trial is scheduled to commence in this case on October 4, 2010. In anticipation of trial, LG challenges the admissibility of certain portions of Dr. Dhar's proposed expert testimony pursuant to Rules 402 ...


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