Accident Reconstruction Expert Witness Allowed in Part

Plaintiff sued defendant after they were involved in a collision.  The plaintiff hired an accident reconstruction expert witness to provide expert witness testimony, which the defendant challenged as inadmissible and unreliable.  The court granted the Daubert motion in part and denied it in part.

Facts:  This case (Bales v. Green et al – United States District Court – Northern District of Oklahoma – March 26th, 2018) involves a collision between the plaintiff and the defendant.  The plaintiff has sued for automobile negligence, respondeat superior, and negligence per se and has retained accident reconstruction expert witness Robert W. Painter Jr. to provide testimony.  The defendants filed a motion to exclude this expert witness testimony.

Discussion: Mr. Painter’s report included four opinions: 1) The defendant made an improper turn from the wrong lane ; 2) the defendant made an improper right turn; 3) the defendant was improperly backing; and 4) the defendant was past his duty status driving time.

The defendants argue that Mr. Painter’s testimony should be excluded because his opinions are not based on sufficient facts and data and are thus unreliable.  After the court excluded the last opinion based on Federal Rule 26, the court turned to the Daubert motion filed by the defendant.

The defendant first argues that the testimony about Green’s vehicle and conduct and based on data and facts which are insufficient and should be excluded.  The court opined that this part of the testimony go to the weight of the evidence and not their admissibility.  In addition, the defendants allege that the methods used by Mr. Painter to come to his conclusions are not clear and sometimes absent from his report.  The court disagreed again, stating that Mr. Painter stated that he reviewed numerous documents and that his report adequately reflects the testimony and facts drawn from the reviewed material.  The defendants arguments again go to the weight of the evidence, not the admissibility and can be argued on cross-examination.

The court next turned to the plaintiff’s vehicle and conduct.  For this part of the evidence, Mr. Painter does not point to any evidence to support his conclusion that the plaintiff swerved onto the inside lane from the outside.  The court opined that there is too much of a gap between the collision report and Mr. Painter’s opinion.  Also, the conclusion is actually contradicted by the plaintiff’s own testimony.  Thus, the court ruled, this testimony is unreliable and should be excluded.

Last, the defendant sought to exclude Mr. Painter’s testimony a line of trees would have partially obscured the plaintiff’s view.  Again, the court concluded that this testimony is not reliable because the plaintiff did not offer this testimony and Mr. Painter do not account for the season and lack of leaves on the trees.  Thus, the court ruled that this portion of the testimony is not reliable and was not allowed.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Robert W. Painter Jr. was granted in part and denied in part.