Daubert Shorts – Recent Opinions on Expert Witness Testimony

Below are a few recent opinions on the admissibility of expert witness testimony.

  1. Serrano et al v. American Airlines, Inc. – United States District Court – Southern District of Florida – November 8th, 2016 – This case involves injuries sustained by the plaintiff (Serrano) when she attempted to disembark from a plane via a mobile stairway.  Serrano sued the defendant (American Airlines) as the cause of her injuries and hired Paul M. Getty (Forensic Engineering Expert Witness).  Getty opined that Serrano fell on a partially lifted, lower stairway during the decent.  In addition, he has criticized the record keeping about the event.  American Airlines filed a motion to exclude Getty’s testimony, stating that his opinions are unreliable or unhelpful to the jury.  The court agreed, stating that Getty’s observations about two possible stairway models is not disputed and would not assist the jury. In addition, he did not perform any testing or consult any relevant publications to reach his conclusions.  In addition, his thoughts on American Airlines’s record keeping are unreliable as there is no evidence to support his conclusions.  The court thus ruled that his testimony would not be allowed.
  2. Global One Engineering, LLC v. SiteMaster, Inc. – United States District Court – Northern District of Oklahoma – October 31st, 2016 – In this contract dispute involving a construction project, the plaintiff (Global One) hired Michael Berryman as a construction expert witness.  The defendant (SiteMaster) filed a motion to exclude the testimony of Mr. Berryman arguing that he does not have the necessary qualifications.  SiteMaster contends that Mr. Berryman does not have the knowledge, skill, or experience in the standards established by the Society for Protective Coatings (SSPC).  GlobalOne argues that Mr. Berryman’s testimony is not intended to establish that their work met the SSPC standards.  The court agreed with the Global One, denying SiteMasters motion to exclude.
  3. Pike v. Premier Transporation & Warehousing, Inc. et al – United States District Court – Northern District of Illinois – November 8th, 2016 – This is a personal injury case involving an accident between an automobile and a semi-trailer truck.  The plaintiff (Pike) sued the defendant (Premier) arguing that the driver of the semi-truck (Duben) was negligent.  Primier hired C. Brian Tanner (Biomechanics Expert Witness) to analyze the accident and Pike’s movement in the car to ascertain whether this was consistent with the reported injuries.  Pike filed a motion to exclude Tanner’s opinions about the cause of his injuries.  In addition, Pike argues that Tanner cannot opine on the cause of Pike’s injuries because he is not a medical doctor.  The court disagreed, stating that biomechanical engineers are qualified to testify on the issue of injury mechanisms.  In addition, Pike also argues that Tanner’s methodology is flawed.  The court again disagreed, stating that Tanner reviewed numerous materials related to the case, including the accident report, photographs and aerial and street levels images of the accident scene.  Any arguments related to the methodology go to the weight of the testimony, not the admissibility.  Thus, the expert witness testimony of Mr. Tamner was allowed in this case.