Bicycle Expert Witness Testimony Granted In Part In Negligence Case

Bicycle Expert Witness testimony allowed because his opinions were deemed reliable.

Facts:  This case (Meyer et al v. Currie Tech Corp. et al – United States District Court – District of Nebraska – December 19th, 2018) involves an injury related to an electric bike conversion kit sold by the defendant.  The plaintiff alleges that he was severely injured in a bike accident and blames the accident on the kit.  The plaintiffs allege strict liability, negligence,  breach of implied warranty of merchantability, and other claims.  The plaintiffs hired Bicycle Expert Witness Braden Kappius to provide testimony.  The defendant has filed a motion to exclude this expert from testifying.

Discussion:  The defendant states that Kappius’s opinions should be excluded because his methodology is not reliable.  Specifically, the defendant argues that Kappius 1) renders opinions on a broad range of topics; 2) does not employ the same level of intellectual rigor that he applies in his practice as an expert in bikes and engineering; 3) did not review manufacturing specifications and conduct mechanical or stress testing; 4) cherry-picked evidence; 5) ignored his own practices in manufacturing and selling after-market products for bicycles; 6) relied on his cycling experience instead of testing and engineering design; 7) failed to rule out other possible causes of the loss of clamp force; and 8) based his opinion that front wheel electric bike conversion kits are inherently dangerous on his own limited experience with them.

The court opines that, with one exception, Kappius’s methods are not so unreliable as to make them a candidate for exclusion.  The court opines that the defendant takes an exception to Kappius’s reliance on his visual inspection of the bike, but a review of the report indicates that he relied on more than that.

In addition, Kappius’s opinion that front wheel electrical bike kits are inherently dangerous does cross the line.  The court opines that Kappius admitted that he had only ridden one or two front-wheel electric bikes in his life and did not document those experiences.  In addition, he admitted that he did not do any research with respect to the market of accident history for these types of bikes and was not sure how to test the accuracy of his opinion.  Thus, this part of his opinion is declared inadmissible by the court.

Discussion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Braden Kappius is granted in part and denied in part.