A lawsuit recently filed in federal court in Chicago by Cottrell Inc. against J. Nigel Ellis highlights the issue of conflicts of interest for expert witnesses. Ellis is reportedly the founder of Ellis Litigation Support, Dynamic Scientific Controls, and Ellis Ladder Improvements. He has two roles in his career: selling safety products, and testifying as an expert witness about safety products.
According to the complaint, Cottrell says that Ellis approached the company in August 2005 to sell a “fall protection design” them. Prior to talking with Ellis, the company says they asked him if he was working with any of the attorneys representing plaintiffs who had sued Cottrell. He said he was not, and he signed a confidentiality agreement with the company. Ellis and Cottrell began exchanging information and letters regarding safety designs, and the relationship went on for nearly two years.