Biomechanics Expert Testimony and Neurosurgery Expert Testimony Allowed in Part

Plaintiff sued defendants after her passenger cart struck another passenger cart.  Defendant hired a Biomechanics Expert Witness and a Neurosurgery Expert Witness to provide testimony.  Plaintiff filed motions to exclude both of these experts, which were granted in part and denied in part by the court.

Facts:  This case (Shaw v. United Airlines Inc et al – United States District Court – Southern District of Texas – September 13th, 2018) is a personal injury case.  The plaintiff (Shaw) alleges that she was injured when a passenger cart struck her passenger cart while travelling between gates at George Bush International Airport in Houston, TX.  The defendants hired Richard V. Baratta, Ph.D., P.E. (Biomechanics Expert Witness) and Richard K. Simpson Jr., M.D., Ph.D (Neurosurgery Expert Witness) to provide testimony on their behalf.  Shaw has filed motions to exclude these experts from testifying.

Discussion:  Shaw argues that Baratta offers conclusions which relate to some form of medical conclusion and that Baratta’s testimony should be excluded because he is a professional engineer, not a medical doctor.  The defendants argue that Baratta’s educational degrees and experience in biomechanics qualify him in the field of biomechanics, injury consistency, and accident reconstruction.  After reviewing Baratta’s curriculum vitae, the court finds that Baratta is qualified to testify as a biomechanics expert, but not to any issues of medical causation.  In addition, the court opines that Baratta’s conclusions are within his realm of expertise in biomechanics.

Shaw also alleges that Baratta’s testimony should be excluded for three reasons:  1) He only inspected one cart; 2) His measurements are not adequate; and 3) His findings are overly general and conclusory.  The court opines that all three of these contentions go to the weight of the evidence, not their admissibility.

Shaw then argues that a portion of Simpson’s opinion stating that Shaw is an “angry, unhappy, and litigious woman” should be excluded because he is not qualified to offer such testimony, as he is a neurosurgeon.  The defendants state that Simpson is qualified to offer these opinions because he has reviewed Shaw’s deposition testimony and medical records and has twenty-eight years of experience  treating patients for chronic pain.  The court opines that the quoted portion is not within Simpson’s realm of experience and is thus excluded.

Shaw also argues that Simpson’s testimony should be excluded because he does not acknowledge any facts or evidence that contradict his opinions.  The court opines that Simpson’s opinions are based on sufficient facts and are reliable and that any arguments go to the weight of the evidence, not the admissibility.

Conclusion:  The motions to exclude the expert witness testimony of Richard V. Baratta, Ph.D., P.E. and Richard K. Simpson Jr., M.D., Ph.D are grated in part and denied in part.