Summary: Accident Reconstruction Expert Witness allowed to testify as the court ruled that his expert opinion was reliable as he reconstructed the accident based on the truck driver.
Facts: This case (Irwin Tripp v. Walmart, Inc et al – United States District Court – Middle District of Florida – November 16, 2022) involves a personal injury lawsuit. The plaintiff, Irwin Tripp, was injured when a terminal tractor hit him and dragged him after unloading goods. The plaintiff sustained horrible injuries, losing both his legs in the accident. The defendant hired Accident Reconstruction Expert Witness Donald J. Fournier to provide expert witness testimony. The plaintiff filed a motion to to exclude this expert from testifying.
Discussion: The plaintiff alleges that Mr. Fournier’s expert witness testimony about the path and speed of the vehicle should be excluded because his methodology is not reliable and that his opinions will not assist the trier of fact.
The plaintiff stated that Mr. Fournier’s testimony is unreliable because he did not control for “measurement loading”, in which participants in an experiment will behave differently because they know that they are being watched. The plaintiff argued that Mr. Fournier influenced his test drivers’ performance.
The court opined that, even though Mr. Fournier acknowledged some instruction to the test drivers and that his presence had an influence on one of his test drivers, that does not make his methodology unreliable. The court further stated that the facts show that Mr. Fournier was trying to reconstruct the accident based on the driver of the truck, but this does not make Mr. Fournier’s testimony unreliable.
In addition, the plaintiff argued that Mr. Fournier’s expert witness opinion is not helpful to the jury because they are not tied to the facts of the case and contradict the testimony of the driver of the truck. the court opined that Mr. Fournier’s opinions are tied to the record concerning speed as well as pathing. The court also states that Mr. Fournier’s opinions are related to the evidence and not contradicted by the facts of the case.
Conclusion: The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Donald J. Fournier is denied.