Forensic Engineering Expert Witness Allowed in Motor Vehicle Personal Injury Case

In this vehicle accident case, the defendant hired a forensic engineering expert witness and the plaintiff filed a motion to exclude.  The court granted the motion.

Facts:  This case (Will Neal, Jr. v. John Fort – United States District Court – Middle District of Tennessee – January 20th, 2017) is a  personal injury action which involves a car crash.  The defendant (Fort) hired David G. Huskey (Forensic Engineering Expert Witness) to assist in proving his case.  Mr. Huskey relied relied on the following to prepare his reconstruction accident report: statements made by the involved drivers, the report prepared by the police, and photographs of the vehicles involved in the accident.  His report jives with the allegations made by Fort.

Mr. Huskey was then provided with supplement materials:  Plaintiff’s deposition, the deposition of another witness, and interrogatory responses by Fort.  These materials did not change Huskey’s opinion.

The plaintiff (Neal) filed a motion to exclude the expert witness of Mr. Huskey, stating that it is not reliable or relevant.  In addition, Neal argues that Mr. Husky’s report does not comply with Rule 26(a)(2)(B)

Discussion:  Neal relies on Reynolds v. Freightliner LLC, which also deals with a traffic accident.  In that case, the court excluded a report of an accident reconstruction expert on the force, dynamics, and possible product defects because it consisted of conclusory statements.  Neal argues that the present case is similar to that one, in that Mr. Huskey was only asked to look at the damage to the vehicles to determine the positioning of the vehicles when they collided.  The defendant disagrees, arguing that any conclusory opinions are overcome by his mathematics and engineering background.

The court disagreed with the defendant, stating that Mr. Huskey’s report does not contain much in terms of methodology and, thus, his testimony is unreliable on its face.  Fort contends that Mr. Huskey’s analysis of the crash includes diagrams, evaluations, and other analyses and his methods of using photographs of the damaged cars are based on engineering principles.  The court again disagreed, stating that Mr. Huskey has not cited any principles, not even any engineering principles.  Without providing any methodology on how he reached his conclusions, the court cannot examine whether or not his methods were reliable.  When there is a lack of meaningful analysis or reasoning, the court can exclude expert witness testimony based on that fact.

In addition, the court continues, the report does not explain how Mr. Huskey’s experience helped to inform his conclusions.  While there is no dispute that Mr. Huskey is qualified as an accident reconstruction expert, there is nothing in the report that shows how he applied his experience to the facts of the case.

Last, the defendant states that plaintiff’s arguments go to the weight of the testimony, not the admissibility.  The court disagreed, opining that Mr. Huskey’s report does not have any methodology that can be argued on cross-examination.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Mr. David G. Huskey is granted.