Biomechanics Expert Witness Testimony Allowed

Plaintiff sued defendant after being allegedly injured from a falling elevator.  Defendants hired a biomechanics expert witness to provide testimony.  The plaintiff filed a motion to exclude, which was denied by the court.

Facts:  This case (Deatherage v. Schindler Elevator Corporation – United States District Court – District of Nevada – June 29th, 2018) involves a personal injury claim caused by a sudden drop of an elevator.  The plaintiff allege the elevator dropped and came to an abrupt stop.  The plaintiff sued for negligence for failure to provide reasonable care.  In addition, the plaintiff allege that the defendants acted with disregard of human safety.  The defendants hired biomechanics expert witness Hanhtrinh M. Le to provide testimony on her behalf.  The plaintiff filed a motion to exclude this expert from testifying.

Discussion:  Le was hired to testify as to the mechanical load placed on the plaintiff’s lumbar spine during the abrupt stop of the elevator.  Le stated that she will quantify the load then compare it to the load placed on the lumbar spine during everyday activities (ie standing, walking, running, and bending over.  The plaintiff alleges that Le’s testimony should be excluded because it is irrelevant, is unduly prejudicial, and it is barred by Nevada law.  The court agrees with the plaintiff and will deny the motion to exclude Le’s testimony.

The plaintiff argues argues that Le’s testimony is irrelevant and not helpful to the jury because the testimony is not medical in nature.  The defendant replies that the testimony will help the jury to conceptualize and quantify the energy acting on the plaintiff’s body when the elevator stopped.  This will allow the jury to determine whether the elevator’s stop could have caused the injuries.  In addition, the defendant states that Le’s testimony will assist the jury in understanding the other experts that will be testifying in this case.

The court agrees with the defendant by opining that Le’s testimony will be helpful to the jury.  The court further stated that one of the main issues of this case is whether the sudden stop of the elevator caused the injuries.  Le’s testimony may conclude that the elevator drop  did not cause the injuries and will thus be helpful to the jury.

The plaintiff also argues that there is no probative value to Le’s testimony and there is a danger in misleading the jury.  The court disagrees, opining that there is probative value in Le’s testimony because it will help the jury determine whether the abrupt stop of the elevator caused the plaintiff’s injuries.

Last, the plaintiff alleges that Le’s testimony should not be admissible because Nevada law requires that medical experts who testify about causation need to state their reason to a reasonable degree of probability.  This argument does not fly because Le is not providing testimony of a medical nature.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Hanhtrinh M. Le is denied.