A pipeline rupture. A cautionary tale.
It's bizarre enough that the expert witness in Hammell v. Shooshanian Eng'g Assocs., Inc., Appeals Ct. No. 07-P-147, changed his opinion two weeks before trial. It is also bizarre, but not surprising, that this opinion change benefited the expert's client, one of the defendants. It is very bizarre that the expert witness waited until he was actually on the witness stand to disclose his new opinion to the parties and the jury. It is very, very bizarre that the judge allowed him to do so.
But there are two especially bizarre aspects of this case.
First, the University of Massachusetts, which was ultimately found liable by the jury, knew that the expert in question (and another expert to be offered by another defendant) was going to nail it with responsibility for the pipeline rupture. The responsibility was also allocated to two of the other defendants (including the expert's own client), but still. UMass should have hired an expert and didn't. Bad idea.
Second, the jury seems to have believed the expert who had that last minute realization that, oh, just so happened to exonerate his client. You can almost excuse this given UMass' strange decision against hiring an expert. Almost, but not quite.