Automotive Expert Witness Testimony Allowed in Part

Plaintiff filed suit against defendant related to a motor vehicle collision.  Defendant hired an Automotive Expert Witness to provide testimony.  Plaintiff filed a motion to exclude this testimony.  The court granted the motion in part and denied it in part.

Facts:  This case (Norma Navarro et al v. Fred Hamilton et al – UNited States District Court – Central District of California – January 28th, 2019) involves a motor vehicle accident.  The plaintiffs allege that the defendants negligently caused the motor vehicle collision with the plaintiff’s vehicle.  The plaintiffs also argue that the defendant engaged in negligent hiring, supervision, and retention of an employee.  The defendant has hired Automotive Expert Witness Gary Ritz to provide testimony on their behalf.  The plaintiff has filed a motion to exclude this expert from testifying.

Discussion:  The plaintiffs move to exclude the testimony of defense expert Gary Ritz to the extent that 1) it states Ritz’s opinion as to whether the defendant complied with various state and federal regulations governing commercial vehicles, and that 2) it relied on three Google Maps photographs that fail to show the precise location where and time that the photographs were taken.  The defendants argue that Ritz’s opinions do not usurp the province of a trier of fact and that Ritz’z opinions comply with Rule 702.

The court opines that, at times, Ritz’s testimony invades the providence of the jury and the court.  The court opines that Ritz’s expert report draws conclusions concerning the proper construction of laws and regulations governing a commercial vehicle’s right to park and obligation to employ warning lights on the highway.  In addition, Ritz, at one point, testified that he was hired to determine whether the defendant’s conduct was in violation of California law.  The court also opines that the defendants also represent that Ritz will testify that the defendant could and did legally park in the location where he was at the time of the accident.

The court concludes that these statements constitute impermissible legal conclusions.  The court, however, does state that Ritz may testify regarding the standards that ordinarily apply to commercial trucks, as these standards are relevant to the case at hand.  The court also opines that Ritz may also provide his professional opinion as to whether the defendant’s conduct complied with the applicable standard.  The court states that questions of whether the defendant violated the law remain reserved for the jury.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness report of Gary Ritz is granted in part and denied in part.