In this personal injury and products liability case, the plaintiff hired two engineering expert witnesses to help in her case. The judge allowed the testimony after a Daubert challenge.
Facts: This case (Wyman v. Yates-Am. Mach – United States District Court – District of Maine – October 31st, 2016) is a personal injury and product liability action. One of the defendants (Yates) filed a Daubert motion to exclude the plaintiff’s (Wyman) experts. The experts are: Paul A. Cyr (Civil Engineering Expert Witness), John M. Orlowski (Forensic Engineering Expert Witness).
Mr. Cyr’s report concluded that 1) the Yates-American planer could have and should have been guarded; 2) The lack of a guard caused Wyman’s injuries; 3) The planer did not meet industry standards; and 4) Yates-American and Industrie Guerrete knew or should have known that the planer did not meet industry standards.
Mr. Orlowski, in his report, stated that 1) the Yates-American planer was defective because it lacked guards, emergency stop controls, and suitable warnings; 2) they did not adequately guard the planer; and 3) the condition of the planer caused Mr. Wyman’s injuries.
Discussion: Yates challenges the opinions of the expert witness testimony on numerous fronts. First, they object to Mr. Cyr’s position that Yates-American manufactured, sold, and designed the planer and parts that caused the accident. In addition, they state that Mr. Cyr admitted that he has no knowledge or experience with Yates-American planers and does not have any knowledge of the parts manufacturing industry, and no information about the parts used for the planer in this accident. In addition, they object to Mr. Cyr’s testimony that the planer was defective and dangerous because it did not have a guard over the outfeed rolls. They state that Mr. Cyr admitted that that he has no evidence if a guard was installed on the planer.
The defendants state that Mr. Cyr is not qualified to provide expert testimony in this case, that his testimony will not assist the trier of fact, and that it is not based on sufficient facts of data, and his opinions are not based on reliable principles or methods.
Also, Yates-American states that Mr. Orlowski lacks experience with operating, maintaining, servicing, and designing a wood planer, lacks a degree in engineering and does not have any education beyond high school, and that he admitted that he does not have any knowledge of what happened to the planer after it was sold 40 years ago. Thus, they argue that Mr. Orlowski is not qualified due to his lack of education, training, or experience in the planer industry, can not assist the trier of fact, and that his opinions are not based on sufficient facts or data and are not the product of reliable methods.
Regarding Mr. Cyr, the court denied the Daubert motion to exclude his testimony. The fact that Mr. Cyr is not a professional engineer does not negate the fact that he has experience in the planer industry. In addition, the court opined that Mr. Cyr’s testimony will assist the trier of fact in that this type of technical discussion is not a matter in which lay jurors are familiar.
The court provides similar reasons for allowing the testimony of Mr. Orloawski.
Conclusion: The expert witness testimony of Mr. Orlowski and Mr. Cyr are allowed in this case.