Automotive Expert Witness Testimony Allowed in Part

Plaintiff sued defendant after he was injured in a rollover accident.  Plaintiff hired an Automotive Expert Witness to provide testimony.  The defendant filed a motion to exclude this testimony.  The court granted the motion in part and denied it in part.

Facts:  This case (Rhodehouse v. Ford Motor Company – United States District Court – Eastern District of California – October 29th, 2018) involves an automobile crash.  The plaintiff alleges that while she was a passenger in a truck, it hit a patch of ice, causing it to roll over.  The plaintiff alleges that when the car rolled over, he sustained neck and back injuries.  The plaintiff has sued for negligence and strict products liability related to design defects in the truck.  The plaintiff has hired Automotive Expert Witness Dr. Nicholas Perrone to provide testimony on his behalf.  The defendant has filed a motion to exclude this testimony.

Discussion: Dr. Perrone concluded that the subject truck had an incredibly weak roof structure which were major factors in the rolling over and roof crushing inward and directly caused the debilitating injuries.

The court opines that Ford has not challenged Dr. Perrone’s qualifications as an expert on vehicle rollover and roof strength.  The court, however, does opine that Dr. Perrone is qualified to provide expert testimony on these topics.

The plaintiff also argues that the two design defects in the truck contributed to the crash and the injuries to the plaintiff.  The court opines that vehicle roof strength and susceptibility to rollover are issues that are beyond the common experience of laymen.  The court opines that Dr. Perrone’s testimony is relevant because it will assist the trier of fact in determining the outcome of this case.

The court also opines that it will not exclude Dr. Perrone’s opinions on accident reconstruction, rollover propensity, roof strength and injury in rollover accidents as the defendant’s arguments go to the weight of the evidence, not the admissibility.  However, the court will exclude Dr. Perrone’s opinions that Ford could have improved the roof strength of the truck for a nominal sum and that the injury would have been prevented by having a stronger roof.  In addition, the court opines that it will exclude Dr. Perrone’s opinion on the injury resulting from the truck’s rollover propensity, that the defendant had knowledge of roof strength and rollover issues, and that foreign vehicles have stronger roofs than domestic vehicles.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Dr. Nicholas Perrone is granted in part and denied in part.