Accident Reconstruction Expert Witness Testimony Allowed In Part

Plaintiff filed suit against the defendant related to a traffic accident.  The plaintiffs hired an Accident Reconstruction Expert Witness to provide testimony.  The defendants have filed a motion to exclude this expert from testifying.  The court granted the motion to exclude in part and denied the motion in part.

Facts:  This case (Manion et al v. Ameri-Can Freight Systems Incorporated et al – United States District Court – District of Arizona – August 16th, 2019) involves a traffic accident.  The decedent’s vehicle was struck by a tractor-trailer driven by an employee of Ameri-Can Freight Systems, Inc.  The plaintiffs are the decedent’s mother and the decedent’s wife.  The plaintiffs have hired Accident Reconstruction Expert Witness Michael Shepston to provide testimony.  The defendants have filed a motion to exclude this expert from testifying.

Discussion: The defendants argue that Shepston provides opinions that are outside the scope of his specialized knowledge, and that his opinions are not based on any specialized, scientific, or technical knowledge and are not based on reliable evidence.

The court opines that in their motion, the defendants did not indicate that they were challenging Shepston’s methodology related to accident reconstruction, and they also clarified in their reply brief that they were not making such a challenge.  The court opines that Shepston will be allowed to offer opinions about accident reconstruction at trial.

The defendants argue that Shepston’s opinions and testimony about avoidability, perception time, reaction time, and visibility should be excluded because 1) Shepston doesn’t have a scientific basis for his opinions that the area of the collision was well-lit and that visibility was clear, and 2) these opinions are outside of his areas of expertise as he does not have the expertise to opine on the area of visibility.

The court opines that it agrees with the defendants because Shepston did not identify any methodology in support of his conclusion that the area of the collision was well-lit and visibility was clear.  The court opines that Shepston will be precluded from testifying as to these opinions at trial.  In addition, the court opines that his testimony will not assist the jury understand the evidence.

Also, the court opines that Shepson’s opinion that the decedent’s vehicle was visible from one-quarter mile out does not hold muster under Rule 702.  The court opines that Shepston’s scientific knowledge is not helpful for the jury and his opinion is not based on any methodology.

The court does disagree with the Defendants’ contention that Shepston does not have a scientific basis for his conclusions about perception time.  The court opines that it will allow Shepston to testify to the opinion of perception time at trial.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Michael J. Shepston is granted in part and denied in part.