Aviation Expert Witness Testimony Excluded

Plaintiff sued defendant after an airplane was damaged during a hail storm.  The defendant hired an  Aviation Expert Witness to provide testimony.  The defendant filed a motion to exclude, which was granted by the court.

Facts:  This case (PRUDENTIAL INSURANCE COMPANY OF AMERICA V. HAWKER BEECHCRAFT GLOBAL CUSTOMER SUPPORT – United States District Court – District of Kansas – May 1st, 2018) involves the damage to an aircraft when it was left on a runway during a hailstorm.  The plaintiff alleges that the defendant negligently left the aircraft out during the storm, rather than putting it in a hangar.  The defendant has filed for summary judgment and, in addition, filed a motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Brad Guyton, the plaintiff’s Aviation Expert Witness.

Discussion:  The defendant asks the court to exclude Mr. Guyton’s opinions about the decrease in value of the of the aircraft as well as the defendant’s duty to keep the aircraft in a hanger while it waited for maintenance.  The defendant alleges that Mr. Guyton’s expert testimony should be excluded because he is not qualified to value to appraise aircraft, his opinions on the diminution of aircraft are not reliable due to flawed methodology, and his opinions on the defendant’s duty to hangar the aircraft are not relevant  or reliable as they conflict with his own testimony about the facts of the case and his industry experience.

The court relayed that it only needs to address the third argument, related to the hangar, and it agrees with the defendant that Mr. Guyton’s opinions are not relevant or reliable.  First, the court does maintain that Mr. Guuyton is qualified to offer an opinion in this case, having 30 years experience in the aircraft industry.  In addition, Mr. Guyton was involved in the underlying facts of the lawsuit.

Mr. Guyton opines that it is customary in the industry that if an aircraft is at a facility for maintenance, it should be kept inside a hangar.  He bases his opinion on his experience in the aircraft industry.  The court notes that his testimony about that experience contradict his opinion.  Mr. Guyton notes in his testimony that it is not possible to keep an aircraft in the hangar at all times.  In fact, his position at work was deciding which aircraft to place in a hangar based on scheduling.

In addition, Mr. Guyton never directed the defendant to place the aircraft in a hangar and doesn’t even know if the defendant had hangar space on the day in question.  Even though his opines that the defendant had a duty to place the aircraft in a hangar, he produces no literature or other published authority to support that claim.  Thus, the court rules that this part of the testimony should be excluded.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Brad Guyton is granted.