Bicycle Expert Witness Testimony Partially Allowed in Accident Litigation

Summary: Plaintiff filed suit against defendants after he was involved in a bicycle accident.  Defendant hired a Bicycle Expert Witness to provide testimony.  Plaintiff filed a motion to exclude.  The Court granted the motion in part and denied the motion in part.

Facts: This case (Sherwood v. BNSF Railway Company et al – United States District Court – February 25th, 2019) involves a bicycle accident.  The plaintiff alleges that as he cycled over a railroad crossing, his front tire lodged in a narrow gap between two cement panels at the crossing, causing him to be thrown over the handlebars and onto the pavement.  The plaintiff has suffered injuries and has sued for negligence.  The defendant has hired Bicycle Expert Witness Timothy Arnold to provide testimony.  The plaintiff has filed a motion to exclude this testimony.

Discussion:  Mr Arnold is an experienced bicyclist and bicycle mechanic and he plans to testify on the cause of the plaintiff’s accident.  Mr. Arnold will testify that the plaintiff slammed on his brakes and flipped over the handlebars because only the front brake was working.

The plaintiffs content that Mr. Arnold is only qualified to offer an opinion on the cycling standard of care because he is not a trained crash reconstructionist.  The defendants claim that his opinion is based on technical and specialized knowledge about bicycles which qualifies him to opine on scenarios that cause specific damage to bicycles.

The court opines that it agrees with the plaintiffs by stating that although Mr. Arnold is a bicycle mechanic and rider, his testimony is based on factors that involve accident reconstruction.  In addition, the court opines that the material that Mr. Arnold relies on in his report go beyond the scope of his expertise as a bicyclist and bicycle mechanic entering the realm of accident reconstruction, which is not an area in which Mr. Arnold is qualified to testify.

However, the court notes that not all of his testimony exceeds the scope of his qualifications.  He has operated a bicycle shop for nearly 25 years, was a professional bicycle racer, and has experience designing and building bike wheels and testing relevant products.  The court states that while Mr. Arnold must avoid providing testimony that reconstructs the accident, but can testify on the nature of the damage he observed on Mr. Sherwood’s bicycle as long as he relies on his technical or knowledge and experience related to bicycles.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Timothy Arnold is granted in part and denied in part.