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Typical Cases

My work involves providing opinions on the likely meanings or interpretations of messages.  For example:
Michael Motley, Ph.D, Expert Witness
  • Someone gets hurt using a product, sues the maker or seller who claims that the accident wouldn’t have happened had the customer heeded their warning label or followed their instructions, and an opinion is needed on the clarity or adequacy of the warning and/or instructions.

  • ​One party claims that another’s advertising is false or misleading, and an opinion is needed on the match or mismatch between the advertisement’s claim and the characteristics of the product or service provided. 

  • Claims differ regarding the interpretation of a contract, liability clause, waiver, or similar document, and an opinion is needed as to the “correct,” or most likely, interpretation of the message in question.

  • A party has a legal obligation to provide certain information to the public (as in a class action notice, for example), and an opinion is needed on the adequacy of that communication effort.

  • One party claims that another forced sexual intimacy and an opinion is needed as to whether consent to intimacy was communicated.

Those are some typical examples, but virtually any case in which there is a question over the meaning of a message, or the adequacy of a communication effort, will probably fit what I do.

Forensic Communication by Michael T. Motley

Detailed Examples

One of the chapters in my book, Forensic Communication:  Applications of Communication Research to Courtroom Litigation, gives specific examples of some of the work I have done in expert witness cases.  Specifically, Chapter 11, “Semantics in Court,” shows how some of my opinions were developed in particular cases, with occasional challenges to the reader to formulate his/her own  predictions. If  you are  interested,  you may download Chapter 11 by clicking here:  Chapter 11

Empirical Support

A unique service that I can provide is to test my opinions empirically.  While technically an expert’s opinion is all that is needed in court, an opinion is, after all, only an opinion.  As such, it is an hypothesis or prediction.  Sometimes these opinions can be tested, just as researchers in communication, psychology and other social sciences test their hypotheses. 


As an example, in one case where my opinion was that a warning was inadequate, we tested the original warning against several variations that I predicted would be more effective. The data showed that virtually nobody understood the original while practically everybody understood all of the variations, and thus supported the opinion that the original was inadequate (in its own right and compared to any of several simple revisions).  One of the chapters of my book describes several of these tests of expert opinion in detail. If you are interested further, you may download Chapter 15, "Testing Expert Opinion via Standard Empirical Methods," by clicking here: Chapter 15

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