Automotive Engineering Expert Witness Testimony Allowed in Design Defect Car Accident Litigation

SummaryAutomotive Engineering Expert Witness testimony allowed even though the defendant argued that the expert witness did not physically test any of the alternate vehicle designs.

Facts – This case (Druzba v. Honda Motor Company, Ltd. et al – United States District Court – District of Vermont – May 15, 2024) involves a product liability claim.  The plaintiff, Matthew Druzba, alleges that the defendant, Honda Motor Company, should be held liable for design defects as well as negligence.  The decedent, Cecile Druzba, was driving on Vermont Route 22A when she was hit by a man driving a Subaru. The decedent was pronounced dead one hour after the accident.   The plaintiff hired Automotive Engineering Expert Witness Mr. Brian Herbst to provide expert witness testimony.  The defendant filed a motion to exclude this expert from testifying.

Discussion – The plaintiff states that Mr. Herbst will provide an expert witness opinion that the vehicle was defective and unreasonably dangerous because of a structurally inadequate body structure that allowed too much intrusion into the occupant compartment.

The defendant alleges that Mr. Herbst’s expert witness opinions should exclude for four reasons:  1) The FEA Model used in the simulations is not representative of the Accord, 2) The crash tests that were performed differ from the accident, 3) His FEA testing do not determine the injuries that the decedent would have obtained, and 4) he did not physically test any of the alternate vehicle designs.

Regarding the first argument, the court states that there are enough similarities between the FEA Model and the Honda to opine that the FEA Model is reliable in this instance.  In addition, the court opines that the other arguments for exclusion are best brought up during cross examination and not during this phase of the case.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Mr. Brian Herbst is denied.