Automotive Engineering Expert Witness Testimony Not Allowed

Plaintiff filed lawsuit against insurance company regarding liability under an insurance policy related to Ford Mustang.  The plaintiff hired an Automotive Engineering Expert Witness to provide expert witness testimony.  Defendant filed a motion to exclude.  The court granted the motion.

Facts:  This case (Clark v. Safeco Insurance Company of Illinois – United States District Court – Eastern District of Tennessee) involves an insurance claim related to a 2004 Ford Mustang.  The defendant has denied coverage alleging that it is not liable under the insurance policy for a mechanical breakdown or failure.  The plaintiff does not assert that the engine experienced a mechanical breakdown or failure and asserts that the failure occurred when the engine hydrolocked.  The plaintiff hired Gary Litton (Automotive Engineering Expert Witness) to provide testimony.  The defendant has filed a motion to exclude this expert from testifying.

Discussion:  The defendant argues that Litton is not qualified to opine on engine failure causation.  The plaintiff disagrees and points to Litton’s experience in the racing and engine industry to support his qualifications to testify.  The parties do not dispute that Litton has not had any formal training or received any degrees or certifications relating to engine failure.  The plaintiff points to Litton’s experience in the racing and engine industry.  The court opines that it has carefully reviewed Litton’s qualifications in relation to engine failure causation and the court opines that Litton is not qualified to testify as to the opinions he provided.  The court opines that while Litton raced for 30 years, his last experience with racing was about 20 years ago.  In addition, he further testified that the vehicles he raced were much different from the plaintiff’s vehicle.

In addition, Litton did not explain how many engines he had disassembled and what he specifically did during an autopsy that would help him in reaching his opinions in this case.  Thus, the court opines that the plaintiff did not establish how Litton’s experience relates to his opinion in this case.

Also, the defendant alleges that Litton’s methodology is not reliable and that his testimony will not assist the jury.  The defendant argues that Litton formed his opinions based on anecdotal evidence from the plaintiff, the engine was partially disassembled and did not have any water in it when Litton inspected it, and Litton failed to test or measure several of the Vehicle’s components.  In addition, the defendant also alleges that Litton failed to consider other possible modes of failure.

The court agrees and opines that Litton did not take any measurements or perform an adequate inspection to determine in plaintiff’s version of the events is consistent with engine hydrolocking.  In addition, the court opines that Litton only relies on Plaintiff’s version of the events and does not perform an adequate examination of the physical evidence.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Gary Litton is granted.