Materials Engineering Expert Witness Testimony Allowed in Part in Industrial Machine Products Liability Case

Discussion: Materials Engineering Expert Witness testimony is  granted in part and denied in part even though the defendant argued that the expert should be excluded because he does not have specialized knowledge of transloaders.

Facts:  This case (COTE v. U.S. SILICA COMPANY et al – United States District Court – Middle District of Pennsylvania – August 23, 2022) involves a products liability action. The plaintiff, Dayton Cole, alleges that he nearly lost his hand while he was operating an industrial machine manufactured and distributed by the defendants.  To assist in his case, Cole hired Materials Engineering Expert Witness Michael Tarkanian, P.E. to provide expert witness testimony.  The defendants filed a motion to exclude this expert from testifying.

Discussion:  One defendant, FB Industries, alleges that Tarkanian’s expert witness testimony should be excluded because he does not have the specialized knowledge on transloaders in order to be qualified as an expert in this case.  The court opines that Tarkanian has twenty years of industry experience and includes consulting on a variety of machines and products.  In addition, he has served as a consultant in more than 15 different litigations.  The court opines that Tarkanian has the specialized knowledge in transloaders to provide an expert witness opinion in this case.

In addition, the defendants argue that Tarkanian’s testimony should be excluded because his conclusions do not have a factual foundation or are unrelated to Cote’s harm.  The judge concluded that Tarkanian’s opinion that the TLX transloader was defective because it did not have a lock out device is not excluded from the testimony.  Also, the court ruled that Tarkanian’s opinion about the design of the electrical circuit is relevant to the transloader’s design defect is allowed as well.

However, the court does note that Tarkanian’s opinion about the defective design of the transloader’s dust collector has no bearing on the present case and should be excluded.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Michael Tarkanian, P.E. is granted in part and denied in part.