Biomedical Engineering Expert Witness Testimony Not Allowed

Plaintiff sued Defendant related to unfair and deceptive business practices related to exercise equipment.  The defendant filed a motion to exclude the testimony of the plaintiff’s biomedical engineering expert witness.  The court granted the motion.

Facts: This case (Mednick v. Precor Inc – United States District Court – Northern District of Illinois – June 10th, 2016) involves a lawsuit for unfair and deceptive business practices.  The plaintiff (Mednick) sued the defendant (Precor) regarding the marketing of their exercise equipment which incorporates “touch sensor heart rate” monitoring technology.  Mednick maintains that the touch sensors fail to accurately provide heart rate readings.  In order to help prove his case, Menick hired Dr. Craig S. Henriquez, a biomedical expert witness.

In his report, Henriquez states that the equipment like those made by Precor, which rely on metal handgrip sensors, provide unreliable heart rate data, due  to motion artifact noise and differences among the user population.  He reached his opinion after studying relevant literature and Precor’s documents.  In addition, he relied on his own experience and independent research.  He ran tests on data compiled from one subject.

Precor hired Michael Garrett, an electrical and software engineer, to review and comment on Henriquez’s report.  In addition, he ran his own tests and concluded that all Precor machines performed as required for monitoring heart rate while exercising.  He did note that the accuracy varied based on the users’ physiology, the machine being tested, the machine tested, and other factors.  Last, he concluded that Henriquez’s testing did not support his broad conclusions.

Discussion:  Precor thus filed a motion to exclude Henriquez’s expert opinion as not reliable.  They state that because Henriquez failed to record or disclose any physiological aspects of the sole subject of his data collection, his testimony should be deemed unreliable.  They argue that it will be impossible to test his theory.  They also state that his opinions lack peer review to back up his theory.   The court disagreed stating that it may very well be difficult to test Henruquez’s opinion, but not his theory, which have been subjected to numerous peer reviews and studies.

However, the court did have issues with the methodology behind Henriquez’s opinion.  First, the court stated that Henriquez’s opinion did not grow naturally out of independent research he conducted prior to the present litigation.  In addition, his methodology comes to an unsupported conclusion from an accepted premise.  He acknowledges that a there are many factors that will influence the presence of motion artifact and the accuracy of heart rate readings, but he only tested one person on one heart rate system, on one type of machine.  Thus, his conclusions are based on speculation, which fails the Daubert test.

In addition, the literature that he cites in inconclusive regarding the accuracy of heart rate data gained through use of metal hand grip sensors n exercise equipment.  None of the studies support his broad conclusion that all of the Precor products are unreliable in terms of heart rate data.

Conclusion:  The expert witness testimony of  Dr. Craig S. Henriquez will not be allowed.