Biomedical Expert Witness Allowed

Plaintiff sued defendant after the two were involved in a car collision.  The defendant hired a Biomedical Expert Witness to provide an opinion on the case.  The plaintiff filed a motion to exclude, which was denied by the court.

Facts:  This case (Guthrie v. Hochstetler – United States District Court – Northern District of Indiana – May 14th, 2018) involves a car collision in which the defendant rear-ended the plaintiff’s car.  The plaintiff claims that the collision caused him to be diagnosed with cervical strain and a herniated disc.  The defendant hired Biomedical Expert Witness, Dr. Ernest P. Chiodo to provide testimony in this case.  The plaintiff filed a motion to exclude portions of Dr. Chiodo’s expert witness testimony.

Discussion:  The plaintiff does not challenge Dr. Chiodo’s qualifications as a biomedical expert witness, but he does challenge the reliability and helpfulness of his opinion that the collision did not cause the plaintiff’s herniated disc and other symptoms at issue in this case.

Dr. Chiodo reviewed a photo of the car post collision and calculated the G forces experienced, citing peer reviewed articles and other scientific literature.  He concluded that the plaintiff experienced lower G forces than would have been generated when he entered the vehicle and sat in it.  Further, Dr. Chiodo opined that the plaintiff’s disc herniation could only have occurred with force that would have also created bony injuries to the spine, which was not evident in this case.  In addition, he cited the Reference Manual on Scientific Evidence to back up his opinions.  Last, he he opined that the plaintiff’s doctor’s causation opinions lacked scientific explanation.

The plaintiff argues that 1) Dr. Chiodo’s opinion constitute legal opinions; 2) Dr. Chiodo relied on insufficient information to form the basis of his opinion; 3) he did not not employ reliable principles and methods to form his opinions, and 4) he did not apply biochemical engineering principles to form his opinions.

The plaintiff first challenges Dr. Chiodo’s only viewing of a photograph to form his opinion as not considering all of the relevant information.  That said, the court opined that Dr. Chiodo cites an article to support his application of this method.  Thus, the court rules that Dr. Chiodo’s methods are reliable.  In addition, the plaintiff argues that Dr. Chiodo’s reliance on the Reference Manual is a legal conclusion.  The court again disagrees, stating that the Reference Manual is a valid resource to use for his opinion.  The court ruled that these arguments go to the weight of the evidence, not the admissibility, and that discussion should take place at cross-examination.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Dr. Ernest P. Chiodo is denied.