Plaintiff filed suit against the defendant related to a products liability claim. The plaintiff hired a Civil Engineering Expert Witness to provide testimony. The defendant filed a motion to exclude this expert from testifying. The court denied the motion to exclude.
Facts: This case (WILLIAMS v. TRISTAR PRODUCTS INC – United States District Court – Middle District of Georgia – August 27th, 2019) involves a products liability claim. The plaintiff filed this action after a pressure cooker manufactured by the defendant exploded in her kitchen, causing severe personal injuries. The plaintiff has hired Civil Engineering Expert Witness Dr. John Pratt to provide expert testimony. The defendant has filed a motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Dr. Pratt.
Discussion: The defendant has filed a motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Dr. John Pratt because 1) his opinions do not fit the facts of the case, 2) his opinions are not the result of scientific methodology and would therefore not assist the trier of fact, and 3) he is not a warnings or human factors expert and is thus not cannot offer these opinions in this case.
The defendant argues that Dr. Pratt is repurposing expert witness testimony used in prior cases involving pressure cookers manufactured by the defendant. The defendant claims that Dr. Pratt has therefore failed to determine what caused the incident with the current pressure cooker. The defendant also claims that Dr. Pratt’s opinions do not “fit” this case because he does not explain how a pressure cooker can explode while in the fully locked position.
The court opines that it disagrees with the defendant and finds that Dr. Pratt’s testimony fits the facts of the case and is reliable and based on sufficient data. The court notes that Dr. Pratt was asked to use his experience in engineering along with his combined experience and familiarity with the defendant’s pressure cookers to find what defects there were in the pressure cooker which would explain what happened to the plaintiff.
The court notes that while Dr. Pratt did not perform explosive testing on the pressure cooker, he does devote a section of his expert report to his findings after an examination of the pressure cooker. The court opines that his familiarity with pressure cookers manufactured by the defendant gained by testifying as an expert in similar litigation enhances his experience and knowledge about the product.
In addition, the court opines that the defendant’s argument that Pr. Pratt’s opinions do not fit the facts of the case are not convincing. The court notes that Dr. Pratt based his opinions on documents in the record, an examination of the incident pressure cooker, and a testing of an exemplar cooker manufactured by the defendant. The court opines that this supports his opinions.
The court also opines that Dr. Pratt has relevant experience to qualify him to offer an opinion in this case.
Conclusion: The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Dr. John Pratt is denied.