Estate Planning and Business Law

Ultimate Facts and Expert Testimony

Ultimate facts are the logical conclusions deduced from certain primary facts evidentiary in character. Ultimate fact generally refers to a core fact, such as an essential element of a claim. The admissibility of the opinions of expert witnesses upon an ultimate fact in a case depends upon the nature of the issue and the circumstances; and the determination respecting such involves an exercise of judicial discretion. Issues of good faith and sufficient performance of contractual obligations are normally questions of fact. The admissibility of opinion evidence that embraces an ultimate issue in a case does not bestow upon an expert carte blanche to express any opinion he or she wishes. Even if an expert's opinion does not go to a question of law, it may not admissible if it invades the province of the jury to decide a case.

Undoubtedly there is a kind of statement by the witness which amounts to no more than an expression of his general belief as to how the case should be decided or as to the amount of unliquidated damages which should be given. It is believed all courts would exclude such extreme expressions. There is no necessity for this kind of evidence; to receive it would tend to suggest that the judge and jury may shift responsibility for decision to the witnesses; and in any event it is wholly without value to the trier of fact in reaching a decision. Notwithstanding Cal. Evid. Code § 805, an expert must not usurp the function of the jury. ( Summers v. A. L. Gilbert Co. (1999) 69 Cal. App. 4th 1155, 1159)

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