Aviation Expert Witness Testimony Not Allowed in Aerospace Contract Litigation

Summary:  Aviation Expert Witness testimony not allowed even though the defense expert admitted that there were flaws in the defendant’s supplier performance management data.

Facts:  This case (Spearman Corporation Marysville Division et al v. The Boeing Company – United States District Court – Western District of Washington – October 11, 2022) involves a breach of contract claim.  The plaintiffs, Spearman Corporation, allege that the defendant (Boeing Company) breached a contract by cancelling $50 million worth of agreements.  The court dismissed all claims except a breach of good faith and fair dealing claim.  To assist with their case, the defendant hired Aviation Expert Witness Stephen Carter to assist in their case.  The plaintiffs filed a motion to exclude this expert from testifying.

Discussion:  In his report, Mr. Carter disclosed that he has been involved in the aerospace industry for 30 years and is an expert in operational and supply chain.  Spearman claims that Mr. Carter’s expert witness testimony should be excluded because 1) Mr. Carter’s testimony on “industry standards” doe not have a basis and 2) The data that he relied on was flawed.

The plaintiff argues that Mr. Carter’s opinions of the makeup of “industry standards” does not have verifiable objective support and are not a part of the contracts or any other sources that the jury can utilize for reliability standards.  The court opines that Mr. Carter is not basing his opinion only on subjective belief and thus, their arguments cannot serve as a basis for exclusion of his testimony.  In addition, any other arguments go to the weight of the testimony and not the admissibility.

Next, the plaintiff argues that Mr. Carter’s opinions on alleges late deliveries are not reliable as Boeing’s supplier performance management data was flawed.  Spearman alleges that Mr. Carter admitted that there were flaws in the data, but did not use any methodology to address these errors.  The court states that these arguments are going too far into the “factual weeds” and that they go to the weight of the testimony, not the admissibility.

Conclusion:  The court holds that the motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Stephen Carter is denied.