Fatigue Expert Witnesses Testimony Allowed

Plaintiff filed lawsuit on behalf of his decedent wife related to a car accident.  Defendant hired a Fatigue Expert Witness to provide expert witness testimony.  Plaintiff filed a motion to exclude, which was denied by the court.

Facts:  This case (White v. Transportation Services, Inc. et al – United States District Court – Western District of Kentucky – August 22nd, 2018) involves an automobile accident involving the decedent of the plaintiff.  Krystal White was driving on an interstate with her infant daughter in the back seat when she collided with a semi-truck owned by the defendant.  The lawsuit was initiated by Krystal White’s husband and alleges that the defendants are liable for negligence, negligence per se, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and gross negligence.  The defendants hired Dr. Fred Turek (Fatigue Expert Witness) to provide testimony on their behalf.  The plaintiff has filed a motion to exclude Turek’s expert witness testimony.

Discussion:  Dr. Turek is a sleep expert in the fields of fatigue and circadian rhythm.  He will testify about Krystal White’s awake-rest history during the eight days preceding the accident and will conclude that she was chronically sleep deprived when she rear-ended the semi-truck.  The methodology that Dr. Turek utilized to come to his conclusion  include her work schedule and cell phone records.  He used these to determine the periods in which Krystal may have been asleep.

The plaintiff argues that Dr. Turek’s testimony should be excluded for three reasons.  First, they argue that Dr. Turek’s opinion about Krystal’s sleep opportunities is not a product of reliable principles and methods.  Second, they state that Dr. Turek did not personally review the data or perform the calculations to reach his conclusions.  Last. they argue that Dr. Turek should not not be allowed to provide testimony regarding medical probability because he is not a physician.

The plaintiff argues that using cell phone records to determine when Krystal was a awake is not reliable.  The contend that it is possible that her phone transmitted data on its own or that someone else may have been using her phone.  Dr. Turek responds that the methods he employed represent the industry standard.  He states that his use of an awake-rest history is the same method used by the National Transportation Safety Board.  To be sure, Dr. Turek does state that he was cautious in his data analysis by using only outgoing messages and did not include data activity smaller than one megabyte.  The court rules that Dr. Turek’s testimony is reliable and that the plaintiff will have the opportunity to share his concerns with the jury during cross-examination.

The plaintiff also argues that Dr. Turek’s conclusions should be excluded because other individuals besides Dr. Turek performed some of the data review and calculations to draw to the conclusions.  Dr. Turek responds that he has a team of well qualified people who provide him with information.  The court disagrees with the plaintiff, stating that an expert is not qualified to personally collect all of the data that will be needed to draw his conclusions.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Dr. Fred Turek is denied.