Automotive Engineering Expert Witness Testimony Allowed in Part in Automobile Accident Case

Overview: Automotive Engineering Expert Witness testimony allowed in part because the court concluded that Bloch’s testimony that alternative designs of the Silverado would have saved the plaintiff’s life was unreliable.

Facts:  This case (Miranda Polk v. General Motors, LLC – United States District Court – Middle District of Florida – January 29th, 2024) involves a claim of product liability and negligence of defective design.  The plaintiff alleges that the defendant General Motors should be held liable for injuries she sustained after being injured in an accident involving a Silverado, manufactured by GM.  The plaintiff hired Automotive Engineering Expert Witness Byron Bloch to provide expert witness testimony.  The defendant filed a motion to exclude Bloch from testifying.

Discussion:  GM argues that Bloch should be excluded from testifying in this case  because he is not qualified, his methods are not reliable, and his testimony will not assist the jury.

The court stated that GM did not object to Bloch being qualified on the subject of automotive design and safety.  But, GM does argue that Bloch is not qualified to provide an opinion on medical causation and biomechanics, because he is not a doctor nor an engineer.  The court states that Polk did not respond to this argument, the court will exclude Bloch from testifying on medical causation and biomechanics.

In addition, GM argues that Bloch’s three categories of opinions in this case should be excluded because his methodology in reaching these three opinions are unreliable.

Bloch first determined that the Silverado’s roof was defectively designed.  GM alleges that Bloch’s methodology is not reliable because he did not inspect the vehicle, he did not perform an accident reconstruction, and did not conduct any case specific testing.  The court opined that these arguments go to the weight of the evidence, not their admissibility.

Second, Bloch determined that alternative designs were feasible.  GM argues that Bloch’s methodology in the piece is unreliable because he did not perform testing or other calculations to verify his alternative design theories.  The court states that even though he didn’t personally test his design theories, he did look at designs that have been put into effect in the industry.

Third, Bloch determined that alternative designs would have prevented the plaintiff’s injuries.  GM argued that this opinion is not reliable because he did not conduct any tests to confirm his theories.  The court concluded that Bloch’s opinion that alternative designs would have prevented Polk’s injuries is not reliable and is excluded.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Byron Bloch is granted in part and denied in part.