Environmental Engineering Expert Witness Testimony Allowed in Part in Storm Sewer System Litigation

Summary:  Environmental Engineering Expert Witness testimony allowed in part even though the defendants argued that the expert was not qualified to offer an opinion because he is not a licensed chemical engineer in California.

Facts:  This case (San Francisco Baykeeper v. Sunnyvale et al – United States District Court – Northern District of California – September 12, 2022) involves a claim filed by San Francisco Baykeeper against the cities of Sunnyvale and Mountain View.  The plaintiff claims that the defendants have violates provisions of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act.  The plaintiff alleges that they tested samples of bacterial from numerous storm sewer systems and the data states that the cities’ stormwater discharges and the MS4 outfalls exceed bacteria water standards.  To prove their case, the plaintiff hired Environmental Engineering Expert Witness Kevin Draganchuk to provide expert witness testimony.  The defendants filed a motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Mr. Draganchuk.

Discussion: The court notes that Mr. Draganchuk has a Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering and is a registered professional engineer in New York, New Jersey, and Florida.  In addition, he is board certified by the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists with a specialty in wastewater and water supply.

The defendants allege that Mr. Draganchuk is not qualified to provide an expert opinion on cost estimates because he is not an economist.  The court states that Mr. Draganchuk’s resume supports the fact that he has sufficient knowledge, experience, and skill to provide an expert witness opinion on cost estimates.  The court does note, however, that some tables provided by Mr. Draganchuk should be excluded because it is not supported by enough facts.

The defendants also claim that the engineering evaluations of Mr. Draganchuk should be excluded because he is not qualified to provide opinions on engineering in California, even though he is a registered engineer in New York, New Jersey, and Florida.  The court disagrees, stating that the defendants did not provide a persuasive argument why an out-of-state expert retained to offer an expert witness opinion in California should be excluded because he is not licensed there.

Also, the defendants argue that Mr. Draganchuck’s opinions about the defendant’s “high risk” sewer lines is not supported by the underlying facts and that the data is not reliable. The court opines that this goes to the weight of the argument and not to the admissibility.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Kevin Draganchuk is granted in part and denied in part.