Aerospace Engineering Expert Witness Testimony Allowed in Part in Aircraft Damage Litigation

Summary:  Aerospace Engineering Expert Witness allowed to testify in part despite defendants’ argument that he does not have knowledge of the actual regulations that were violated.

Facts: This case (Aircraft Holding Solutions LLC et al v. Learjet Inc et al – United States District Court – Northern District of Texas – July 29, 2022) involves a claim of damages to a Bombardier Challenger 300 during routine maintenance.  The plaintiffs filed this action after the airplane fell from it’s jacks.  The plaintiffs argue that they are entitled to damages for the value of the aircraft and other damages as a result of the defendant’s negligence.  The plaintiffs hired Aerospace Engineering Expert Witness Pat Duggins to provide expert testimony.  The defendants have filed a motion to exclude this expert from testifying.

Discussion: The defendants allege that Duggins does not have a reliable basis for his expert opinions.  They claim that he based his opinions on Federal Air Regulations as well as other requirements for aviation but he does not have any knowledge of any of the actual regulations that were allegedly violated.  the plaintiffs disagree, stating that Duggins compared the repair documentation to the relevant Federal Air Regulations and other requirements.

The court states Duggins’ expert witness opinions should not be excluded because he doesn’t have knowledge of the regulations that were supposedly violated. In addition, the court states that any arguments against Duggins’ testimony on this issue is best done during cross examination.

The court does opine that Duggins’ opinion that the aircraft was subject to undue stress should be excluded as he cannot quantify the stress to which shoring subjected the aircraft. In addition, the court states that Duggins does not know the stress level that the aircraft components were designed to tolerate.

The defendants also alleges that Duggins opinion related to symmetry checks should also be excluded as they disagree with Duggins’ opinion about the interpretation of this requirement in the repair manual.  The court disagrees, stating that this type of disagreement is best brought up during cross examination.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness opinion of Pat Duggins is granted in part and denied in part.