Biomechanics Expert Witness Testimony Allowed in Part

Plaintiff filed suit against the defendants related to an automobile accident.  Defendants hired a Biomechanics Expert Witness to provide testimony.  The plaintiffs have filed a motion to exclude this expert from testifying.  The court granted the motion in part and denied it in part.

Facts:  This case (Thomas et al v. Chambers et al – United States District Court – Eastern District of Louisiana – April 17th, 2019) involves a motor vehicle accident between an automobile and a tractor-trailer.  The plaintiff’s allege that the accident cause injuries to their necks and backs.  The court notes that they each received medical treatment for injuries to their cervical and lumbar spines.  The defendants have hired Biomechanics Expert Witness Dr. Torrence Welch to provide testimony.  The plaintiffs have filed a motion to exclude this expert from testifying.

Discussion:  The court opines that Dr. Welch is qualified to offer an opinion in this case on biomechanical engineering and an opinion regarding the type of collision the defendants and plaintiffs experienced.  He holds a PhD in biomedical engineering, an Accredited Traffic Reconstructionist License, and is a member of the Society of Automotive Engineers.  The court also opines that Dr. Welch is not qualified to offer medical causation opinions in this case as he is not certified in any medical specialty, nor does he hold a medical degree.  Thus, he cannot offer an opinion on whether the estimated forces that the plaintiffs experienced during the collision in fact caused their injuries.

The court also opines that Dr. Welch’s accident reconstruction opinion and his biomechanics opinions are reliable and therefore admissible.  To form his opinion, Dr. Welch relies on the parties’ testimony and the visible damage to the plaintiffs’ car.  Also, Dr. Welch cites information from the New Orleans Police Department incident report and 911 calls, bodycam footage, and published data on the weight and size of the two vehicles.

The court opines that Dr. Welch’s opinion satisfied Daubert’s requirement that an opinion should be based on sufficient facts or data, even though he was not able to inspect the vehicles directly and did not visit the accident scene.  The court also opines that Dr. Welch sufficiently articulates how the evidence before him informed his conclusion that the collision was a sideswipe that resulted in no change of speed.

Regarding his biomechanics opinion, Dr. Welch represents in his affidavit that the studies he relied upon to reach his opinion have been published in peer-reviewed journals and are widely accepted among the scientific, engineering, and medical communities.  The court also notes that other courts have recognized that the type of biomechanical analysis Dr. Welch employs is well established and sufficiently reliable for this case.

Last, the court finds that Dr. Welch’s opinion is clearly relevant to the issues in this case.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Dr. Torrence Welch is granted in part and denied in part.