Electrical Engineering Expert Witness Testimony Allowed in Part

The Plaintiff sued the owners and operators of a transmission line after he sustained injuries after he was allegedly electrocuted.  The Defendant hired an electrical engineering expert witness to provide testimony.  The Plaintiff filed a motion to exclude this testimony, which the court granted in part and denied in part.

Facts: This case (Michael Rowan v. Sunflower Electric Power Corporation, et al. – United States District Court – District of Kansas – August 21st, 2017) involves electrical injuries sustained by the Plaintiff when he was installing a structure beneath an power transmission line during a construction project involving utility lines.   The Plaintiff has sued for negligence against the owners and operators of the transmission line.  In order to assist in proving his case, the defendant has hired electrical engineering expert witness Mark Kroll.  The Plaintiffs have filed a motion to exclude Mr. Kroll’s testimony.

Discussion:  Mr. Kroll specialized in bioelectricity, which involves the interaction of the human body and electricity as well as the effects of electricity on the body.  Mr. Kroll has advanced degrees in electrical engineering and is an adjust professor of biomedical engineering at two universities.  He has performed a lot of research on the topic and has been retained in more than 140 cases involving high-voltage electrical injuries.  Mr. Kroll’s expert report includes eleven opinions, including the following: 1) The nature and extent of the electrical shock that was received by the patient, 2) Whether the shock caused to contributed to the injuries sustained by the Plaintiff, and 3) Whether or not the Plaintiff’s injuries would have been less extensive of he had been wearing rubber gloves during the time of the accident.

The Plaintiff argues that Mr. Kroll’s testimony on the amount and duration of current that the Plaintiff was exposed to should be excluded because it is speculative and unreliable.  They state that performing these types of calculations are almost impossible.  In addition, the Plaintiff states that this opinion is unreliable because it is based on an earlier incorrect assumption. Last, the the plaintiff states that Mr. Kroll’s calculation as to the duration of the shock lacks credibility.  The court agreed with the defendants on this issue and opined that any arguments are best addressed during trial.

The Plaintiff also argues that many of Mr. Kroll’s opinions should be excluded because he is not qualified to render medical, neuropsychological, or psychiatric opinions because he does not have training in those fields.  In addition, the Plaintiff argues that other opinions should be excluded because he is not a medical doctor and has not treated the Plaintiff.  The court disagreed with the Plaintiff on one of their arguments, stating that Mr. Kroll may not testify that the Plaintiff suffered no brain damage.  Regarding the rest of his opinions, the Plaintiffs are free to challenge them during cross-examination.

Conclusion:  The expert witness report of electrical engineering expert witness Mark Kroll is granted in part and denied in part.