Equipment & Machinery Expert Witness Testimony Excluded

Plaintiff sued defendant after he was injured while operating a skid loader.  The defendant hired an Equipment & Machinery Expert Witness to provide expert witness testimony.  The plaintiff filed a motion to exclude this expert.  The court granted the motion to exclude.

Facts:  This case (Stephenson v. Caterpillar – United States District Court – Eastern District of Texas – November 7th, 2018) involves a products liability claim.  The plaintiff was working at his family’s contracting business and was operating a skid loader when the seat heater allegedly malfunctioned.  The defendant hired Equipment & Machinery Expert Witness Tom Brady to provide testimony on his behalf.  The plaintiff has filed a motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Mr. Brady.

Discussion:  In the last paragraph of his expert report, Brady opines that the plaintiff’s injuries could have been avoided if the plaintiff’s employer modified the skid loader to accommodate the plaintiff, provided enough training to the plaintiff, and followed basic safety rules regarding the plaintiff’s use of the equipment.

The plaintiff argues that Brady’s opinions should be excluded because he is not qualified to opine as to the skid loader’s design and that his opinions are simply conclusory, and thus not relevant or reliable.

The court opines that it does not agree with the notion that Brady must be a design expert to opine on whether ingress to the skin loader was proper.  The court notes that Brady is a Caterpillar Certified Operator, who has over 30 years of experience in training people in operating equipment.  In addition, Brady has trained thousands of people on how to operate Caterpillar machinery.

The plaintiff argues that Brady used an unreliable methodology in forming his opinion that a paraplegic is not an anticipated or foreseeable skid loader user.  The court agrees and finds that this opinion is unreliable.  The court continues by noting that while Brady can rely on his experience, this alone is not enough to conclude that paraplegics are not foreseeable users.  Thus, this part of his opinion will be excluded.

The plaintiff also argues that Brady’s testimony does not assist the trier of fact because he does not identify which safety rules were not followed and which training was not provided regarding the operation of the skid loader.  The court notes that mere conclusions this part of the testimony is neither reliable not helpful to the jury.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Tom Brady is granted.