Human Factors Engineering Expert Witness Testimony Allowed; Bus & Truck Safety/Accident Expert Witness Testimony Excluded

Plaintiffs sued defendants after a vehicular crash.  The plaintiffs hired a Bus & Truck Safety/Accident Expert Witness to provide expert witness testimony and the defendant hired a Human Factors Engineering Expert Witness.  The court allowed the testimony of the Human Factors Engineering Expert Witness but not the other.

Facts:  This case (Pennington v. Parmar et al – United States District Court – Northern District of Mississippi – April 18th, 2018) involves a car crash between the defendant and the plaintiff’s decedent.  The plaintiff hired Rodney D. Ellis (Bus & Truck Safety/Accident Expert Witness) to provide expert witness testimony and the defendant hired Dr. Steven Arndt (Human Factors Engineering Expert Witness) to provide his opinion.  Both parties filed motions to exclude the expert witness testimony of the other party.  The court provided opinions in two separate orders (here and here).

Discussion:  Ellis testimony focuses on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations and Mississippi’s Commercial Driver License Manual.  The court opines that Ellis’s report is just a series of copied and pasted sections of the manual and regulations.  The plaintiffs allege that his ten years of experience as a commercial truck driver qualify him to provide testimony.  The court opines that even though he has experience as a truck driver, one does not qualify as an expert in regulations and guidelines on that quality alone.  The courses Ellis lists as taken do not demonstrate knowledge of the regulations and the training manual.  In addition, Ellis has not produced any scientific, peer-reviewed or academic publications to support his premise.  Thus, the court rules that Ellis is not qualified to provide testimony in this case.

Even if he were qualified, the court opines that Ellis’s testimony is not reliable.  Ellis has not shown any violations of the regulations or the manual.  Ellis simply opines that they defendant did not comply with the regulations and guidelines and  does not point to anything specific.

The plaintiffs argue that Dr. Arndt’s opinions are unreliable, irrelevant, and will not assist the jury to determine a fact in issue.  The plaintiffs ague that Dr. Arndt’s testimony are mere regurgitation of other testimony in this case.  The court opines that this is not true.  The court states that Dr. Arndt carefully and thoroughly researched and analyzed the case by inspecting the accident scene at night, driving through the accident scene, taking video and photographs, and more.  In addition, he reviewed scientific literature on human factors guidelines for road systems and nighttime crash situations.

The plaintiffs also allege that Dr. Arndt’s opinions will not be helpful to the jury and are not relevant.  The court disagrees, stating that his opinions are very relevant to the dispute at issue.  The court thus opines that Dr. Arndt’s testimony is relevant to the case at hand.

Conclusion: The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Rodney D. Ellis is granted and the motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Dr. Steven Arndt is denied.