A few weeks ago, I gave a presentation at a CLE seminar about how to use and challenge expert witnesses in a food case. One of the interesting discussions that occurred during my talk was about the importance of retention of experts at an early stage, even before health department officials finalize their findings.

Given the limited resources of most state and local health departments, I have always believed there is little to lose by offering the assistance of credible and known epidemiologists, microbiologists, etc. Additional resources in an outbreak investigation (and, therefore, additional investigation) can mean the difference between the health department pointing at your client and the health department pointing at another source. Several other defense lawyers, and, surprisingly, state health department officials, agreed. Examples of successful early intervention were elicited.