consumer protection, false claims act

Expert Witness Misrepresents Credentials

David Viano is one of the primary occupant kinematics/biomedical experts currently being used by automotive manufacturers all across the country. Dr. Viano’s resume is quite impressive. He received a Bachelor’s of Science in Electrical Engineering from Santa Clara University in 1968; he received his Ph.D. in Applied Mechanics from Cal Tech; and he received a post-doctorate degree in Biomedical Science from the University of ETH Zurich. Dr. Viano claims to have a Doctor of Medicine degree from the Karolinska Institute and Medical University in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1998.

Dr. Viano has numerous academic appointments. He worked for General Motors for nearly 20 years, retiring as the Principle Scientist, Safety Integration for GM North America. His resume boasts numerous awards, numerous patents, numerous associations with professional societies in the field of biomechanics. He has also authored books, chapters in books, and more than 300 professional articles and treaties. He has lectured all over the world. A person with this type of training should not have to misrepresent any facts on his resume, and certainly no material facts. Unfortunately, Dr. Viano did that, which cannot be tolerated.

Dr. Viano now works as a consultant primarily for auto manufacturers and routinely charges $500 per hour. Greg Allen, our firm’s most experienced Products Liability lawyer, recently took Dr. Viano’s deposition and discovered for the first time that the “expert” has been misrepresenting his credentials to courts and juries. Dr. Viano has testified under oath numerous times that he was a Doctor of Medicine but claims that since he was only interested in research, he did not do an internship to practice medicine. As it turns out, Dr. Viano was not even close to being qualified to do an internship and very far from being qualified to practice medicine. To be very clear – Dr. Viano claims to hold a Doctor of Medicine degree from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden. On at least two occasions, when questioned under oath, Dr. Viano has claimed that his degree was more like a medical doctor than a Ph.D degree.

In at least one trial, Dr. Viano responded to a question from the Defense counsel in qualification of whether or not he was an actual medical doctor. He responded to that question with an emphatic “yes.” That’s simply not true. Dr. Viano now says he does not remember giving that testimony. In preparation for Dr. Viano’s deposition, we obtained Dr. Viano’s educational information from the Karolinska Institute and discovered that Dr. Viano was not an M.D. as thought of in the U.S.

Dr. Viano received a degree from Karolinska called a “Medicine Doktorsexamen,” which in Sweden is a P.h.D. not an M.D. Dr. Viano, who wrote a thesis to obtain this Ph.D., never went to a single medical school class during the five and a half years he claims to have attended the university. He took two examinations during that period of time. He did not receive the Master of Science in Medicine degree that is required in Sweden to qualify for a medical internship to practice medicine. It will be interesting to see how Dr. Viano handles this problem in depositions and trials going forward.

This is another example proving that good discovery and basic research pays off. Our lawyers have learned over the years that experts can have an extensive resume, however, their primary tool is credibility. If the expert is not a credible witness, no thick resume can make up for that shortcoming. Dr. Viano’s credibility has now been called into question. Greg Allen took the time and effort to look into Dr. Viano’s past history and what he found is proof that this well-paid expert has testified falsely in depositions and actual trials on numerous occasions.

I have a Black Lab named “Buddy” who is a very smart fella. Buddy and Dr. Viano have at least one thing in common – neither is a medical doctor. Fortunately for Buddy, he has never claimed to be an M.D. Buddy – like Dr. Viano – never attended medical school and definitely is not an M.D. Neither has Buddy ever claimed to be an M.D. while under oath. Sadly, we can’t say the same for Dr. Viano.

This article appears in the August 2016 issue of the Jere Beasley Report.

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