Biomechanics Expert Witness Testimony Allowed in Part in Trampoline Park Accident

Summary: Biomechanics Expert Witness testimony allowed in part even though the defense argued that his biomechanical engineering background does not qualify him to testify in this injuries case.

Facts:  This case (Haines v. Get Air Tucson Incorporated et al – United Stated District Court – District of Arizona – July 5th, 2019) involves an accident at a trampoline park owned by the defendant.  The plaintiff alleges that his injuries are a caused by a defective employee handbook created by the defendant.  The plaintiff has hired Richard Hinrichs, Ph.D. (Biomechanics Expert Witness) to provide testimony.  The defendant has filed a motion to exclude this expert from testifying.

Discussion:  The defendant argues that Dr. Hinrichs testimony should be excluded because it is speculative and not supported and that his training and experience in biomedical engineering does not qualify him to testify as an expert witness in this case.  The defendant argues that Dr. Hinrichs should not be allowed to testify that had the defendant’s employee handbook prohibited multiple flipping, then the foam-pit lifeguard would have prevented the accident from occurring.

The plaintiff alleges that Dr. Hinrichs relied on his experience in biomechanics and his training in trampolining to form an opinion that allowing a single flip into a foam pit is reasonable, but allowing multiple flips is not.

The court opines that Dr. Hinrichs received his Ph.D in biomechanics from Pennsylvania State University and that he has experience in the field of biomechanics.   In addition, the court notes that he has experience as a competitive trampolinist in high school and a trampoline performance and safety instructor during high school.

The court opines that it will partially grant and partially deny the defendant’s motion to exclude.  The court opines that Dr. Hinrichs is qualified to offer an opinion that the plaintiff’s injuries were a result from attempting a multiple flip into a foam pit owned by the defendant and that a rule allowing single flips into the foam pits, but prohibiting multiple flips is reasonable.

That said, the court opines that it does not find that Dr. Hinrichs’s experience working as a trampoline safety instructor and training and training lifeguards on safety ruled is enough to qualify him to offer an opinion about the effect that a rule prohibiting multiple flips would have had on the safety instructor on duty.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Richard Hinrichs, Ph.D. is granted in part and denied in part.