Architecture Expert Witness Testimony Allowed

Plaintiff filed suit related to a purchase of allegedly faulty MRI equipment.  Defendant hired an Architecture Expert Witness to provide testimony.  The plaintiff filed a motion to exclude this witness from testifying.  The court denied the motion to exclude.

Facts:  This case (Naz, LLC v. Philips Healthcare – United States District Court – Eastern District of Louisiana – January 2nd, 2019) emerges from a medical facility’s purchase of allegedly faulty MRI equipment, the manufacturer’s allegedly faulty installation and service of the MRI equipment, and the failure to provide the purchaser with the “complete package”.  The defendant has hired Architecture Expert Witness Allen Ohlmeyer to provide testimony.  The plaintiff has filed a motion to exclude this expert from testifying.

Discussion:  The plaintiffs do not challenge Ohlmeyer’s qualifications as an architect.  They argue that Ohmeyer’s opinions are not relevant and will not assist the trier of fact in this case.  The plaintiffs state that Ohlmeyer’s report contains a recitation of the documents he reviewed and did not provide any opinions and that the opinions he offers related to the responsibilities of the owner are not based on facts.  In addition, the plaintiffs argue that an expert opinion is not needed to identify the proper use of the building.  Last, the plaintiffs allege that Ohlmeyer offers legal conclusions that are impermissible under Daubert.

The defendant states that Ohlmeyer should be allowed to testify as an expert based on his extensive experience and education, which he applied to render his opinions in this case.  The plaintiffs state that for the last 24 years, Ohlmeyer has specialized in the planning and design of healthcare facilities, including ones that house MRI equipment.  In addition, the plaintiff is board certified as a healthcare architect by the American College of Healthcare Architects and is a member of the American Society for Healthcare Engineering of the American Hospital Association.

The defendant also states that Ohlmeyer’s opinions are relevant to the issues of this case because they will aid the trier of fact in evaluating the construction of the MRI facility, which is outside the life experiences of an average layperson.  Also, The defendant argues that Ohlmeyer’s recitation of the documents he reviewed is a description of his methodology.  Last, the defendants argues that Ohlmeyer’s opinions regarding the parties’ respective responsibilities in the construction process are not legal conclusions, but rather opinions regarding industry practice.

The court opines that Ohlmeyer’s education and experience qualify him to testify as an expert in the field of healthcare architecture.  In addition, the court also opines that Ohlmeyer’s report shows that his opinions are relevant to the issues in this case.  Also, the court opines that Ohlmeyer’s report offers opinions on industry standards and practices, not impermissible legal conclusions.

Conclusion: The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Allen Ohlmeyer is denied.