Expert Witness Testimony: Q&A with Irene Fassler

IreneCourt cases involving fatigue can often be multi-dimensional and complex  leaving a jury puzzled unless they are effectively educated on the science behind fatigue. Because of the complexity of many of these cases, expert witnesses are sought out to analyze the evidence and provide clarity to the case.

CIRCADIAN’s Vice President and Litigation Manager, Irene Fassler J.D., M.S.W., has been a senior manager at CIRCADIAN for the past eight years and a key member of the CIRCADIAN litigation team. Irene was interviewed about her experience with the CIRCADIAN Expert Witness team.  

Q: When does CIRCADIAN’s expert witness department get retained?

A: We handle cases that range across industries, case type for both plaintiff/defense attorneys. Typically, CIRCADIAN handles cases involving accidents, regulatory matters, and at times criminal cases; however, all of our cases have human error as the common denominator.

Q: What misconceptions do you encounter from individuals contacting CIRCADIAN regarding expert witness services?

A: One area of confusion has to do with the trucking industry's Hours-of-Service Regulations.  It is often assumed that HOS violations and fatigue occur concurrently. Yet, we have investigated instances in which drivers were compliant with HOS Regulations but were fatigued due to physiological factors, and vice versa. Oftentimes, what seems to be an open and shut case is more complex and requires a thorough analysis.

Q: What aspects of expert witness testimony need to be better understood?

A: Expert witness testimony consists of  an in-depth, multi-faceted analysis that can be extremely helpful in settlement discussions. This type of analysis offers an objective and comprehensive view and helps to put the pieces of a story together.

Q: What makes you passionate about legal cases involving expert witness testimony?

A: The complex nature of the cases we investigate are fascinating and exciting to me. The challenge of uncovering a story from the many sources of data or discovery given to us is compelling.   Our investigation involves dissecting the data, peeling back the many layers of each part, and piecing the story back together to provide our clients with a clearer understanding of what might have happened in regards to human error. Also, I truly enjoy working with our clients and I try to make myself as available as possible - even if that means cooking dinner and simultaneously answering their questions. I believe that it is critical in this business to be accessible. 

Q: What is one piece of advice you would give individuals who are considering consulting with human error expert witness? 

A: Call as early in the legal process as possible - don’t wait until the 11th hour or after discovery is closed! We can help figure out what information would be most helpful to request during the discovery process.

Q: What differentiates Dr. Martin Moore-Ede from other experts in the sleep community?

A:  Not only is Dr. Moore-Ede’s understanding of sleep and fatigue unparalleled, but our litigation team is top notch. I do not know of another human error expert who has a multidisciplinary team behind them. Also, Dr. Moore-Ede’s ability to succinctly and clearly teach jury members, judges and lawyers the science behind fatigue is invaluable. His ability to explain complex ideas in layman’s terms helps the jury to ‘wake up’ when he is on the stand because he explains a message that is relatable to many people.

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