Praxair, Inc. v. Airgas, Inc., 2000 NCBC 10 (N.C. Super. Ct. Aug. 14, 2000)(Tennille)

The issue here was the admissibility of the testimony of plaintiff's five expert witnesses, who proposed to testify on a variety of subjects.  The Court engaged in a thorough discussion of the scope, and limits, of expert testimony.  It held that experts will not be permitted to testify that a particular legal standard or conclusion has been met, as that would invade the province of the jury. 

Following this preamble, the court considered the five experts in turn.  The first was excluded because his analysis lacked an analytically sound basis.  The second was permitted to testify on the economic considerations that would face the defendants.  The third and fourth were permitted to testify as to the economics of the transaction and the impact of certain financial incentives, but were barred from testifying as to the future actions they believed the defendants would take as a result.  The final expert was permitted to testify on accounting matters. 

The Court also considered whether the plaintiff was entitled to an adverse inference as a result of the defendant's destruction of evidence.  After discussing the issue of spoliation, the Court found that the destruction of documents had been done with an awareness of the litigation, and that the defendant's summary judgment should be denied as a result. 

It held that "although the destruction of evidence, standing alone, is insufficient to allow a party producing such evidence to support a summary judgment claim, such destruction may push a claim that might not otherwise survive summary judgment over the line.” 

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