Biomechanics Expert Witness Testimony Excluded

Plaintiffs filed suit against the defendants involving a slip and fall.  Plaintiffs hired a Biomechanics Expert Witness to provide testimony.  Defendant filed a motion to exclude this expert from testifying.  The court granted the motion.

Facts:  This case (STAGNARO et al v. TARGET CORPORATION – United States District Court – Eastern District of Pennsylvania – April 30th, 2019) involves a slip and fall.  The plaintiffs allege that a dangerous condition in the boys’ swimwear section caused one of the plaintiffs to fall, fracturing her hip.  The plaintiffs hired Dr. Norman I. Badler (Biomechanics Expert Witness) to provide testimony.  The defendant has filed a motion to exclude this expert from testifying.

Discussion:  The defendant argues that 1) Dr. Badler is not qualified to offer an expert opinion in this case because he does not have a professional engineering degree or enough engineering experience. 2) his opinions are speculative and based on flawed analysis and investigation, and 3) his testimony does not fit the facts of the case.

The court first opines that Dr. Badler is sufficiently qualified to offer an expert opinion in this case.  He is a professor in the Department of Computer and Information Science at the University of Pennsylvania and created an ergonomic assessment and virtual human prototyping system.  This system is widely used to simulate human movement.  The court notes that, although he is not an engineer, Dr. Badler’s experience qualifies him as an expert for the purpose of reconstructing the events that caused the fall.

The court also notes that Dr. Badler concludes that the plaintiff’s fall and subsequent injuries were caused by a clothing rack being positioned too closely to a structural pole.  Dr. Badler states that his opinions are based on deposition testimony, incident reports, photos taken after the fall, site inspections at the store at which the accident occurred, and the expert report of the other expert in this case.

The court first opines that Dr. Badler engages in numerous unsupported assumptions in order to reach the conclusion of how the plaintiff fell.  These assumptions, the court continues, are not supported by the deposition testimony of the plaintiffs or any other evidence.

The court also opines that the plaintiff testified that she did not know what caused her fall.  With that testimony, Dr. Baler may not speculate as to what caused her fall and present unsupported theories of causation to the jury.  The court also states that Dr. Badler’s conclusion is not reliable because it is not grounded in the facts of this case.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Dr. Norman I. Badler is granted.