Human Factors Expert Witness Testimony Not Allowed

Plaintiff filed suit against defendant related to a slip and fall.  Plaintiff hired a Human Factors Expert Witness to provide testimony.  Defendant filed a motion to exclude this expert from testifying.  The court granted the motion to dismiss.

Facts:  This case (Ewers et al v. Lowe’s Home Centers, LLC et al – United States District Court – Southern District of Ohio – September 12th, 2019) involves a slip and fall at a Lowe’s store located in South Lebanon, Ohio.  The plaintiffs claim that Paul Ewers suffered serious injuries when he fell at the store.  The plaintiffs hired Human Factors Expert Witness Kevin Rider Ph.D. to provide testimony.  The defendant has filed a motion to exclude this expert from testifying.

Discussion:  The defendant does not argue that Dr. Rider is not qualified to offer an opinion in this case.  The court notes that Dr. Rider has a PhD. in Industrial and Operations Engineering-Human Factors-Ergonomics and Biomechanics
from the University of Michigan.  In addition, he is board certified in ergonomics for engineering and surveying.  In addition, he is employed as the sole employee of his company, Forensic Human Factors, LLC.

The court opines that Dr. Rider’s testimony would not assist the trier of fact in this case.  The court opines that the expert testimony is not necessary or helpful in this case.   The court opines that an examination of Dr. Rider’s testimony shows that he used very little scientific method or other reliable resources to support his opinion.

The court notes that Dr. Rider’s opinions are framed as legal conclusions based on the plaintiff’s testimony that he did not observe a cable before he tripped on it.  In addition, the court opines that Dr. Rider explained that he based his opinions on Ohio’s law regarding an “open and obvious” danger.  Th court also notes that Dr. Rider’s understanding of “open and obvious” based on the subjective experience of the plaintiff does not comport with Ohio law and carries with it a risk of jury confusion.

The court also notes that multiple courts have concluded that, in the context of slip and fall cases, expert witness testimony is not necessary or helpful under Daubert.  The court also notes that similar testimony has been excluded by other courts.  As an example, in a case involving a slip and fall, a Florida judge wrote about the lack of helpfulness of Dr. Rider’s opinions, which are similar to those that are presented in this case.

The court also opines that Dr. Rider’s opinions are not reliable because 1) the lack of evidence that Dr. Rider’s methodology is common in the professional and scientific community’ 2) the over-reliance on the plaintiff’subjective testimony; and 3) the lack of any testing or replication of the circumstances behind the slip and fall.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Kevin Rider Ph.D. is granted.