Mechanical Engineering Expert Witness Excluded

Plaintiff sued defendants after falling off a Ferris wheel during a music festival.  The plaintiff hired a Mechanical Engineering Expert Witness to assist in his case.  The defendants filed a motion to exclude, which was granted by the court.

Facts:  This case (Sivak v. Cody Rides, LLC et al – United States District Court – District of Minnesota – May 17th, 2018) involves a Ferris wheel accident at a music festival.  The plaintiff was injured when he fell from the Ferris wheel.  He sued the defendants, arguing that they operated the Ferris wheel carelessly and negligently as well as without proper maintenance and inspection.  The plaintiff hired Mechanical Engineering Expert Witness, Steven Becker, to provide an opinion.  The defendants filed a motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Mr. Becker.

Discussion:  Mr. Becker offers three expert opinions in this case.  First, he alleges that improper inspection and maintenance of a hanger pin in the plaintiff’s seat was the cause of the accident.  Second, in analyzing security video from the incident, Mr. Becker opined that the plaintiff was not rocking his seat before he fell, which ads credence to the plaintiff’s contention that there was a malfunction in the seat.  Last, Mr. Becker opines that the defendant violates Minnesota law by failing to report the incident and that they dismantled the Ferris wheel before it could be examined constitutes a spoliation of evidence.

The defendant challenges Mr. Becker’s qualifications, stating that he has no experience in Ferris wheels.  The court disagrees, stating that Mr. Becker is a mechanical engineer and is thus qualified to offer an opinion in this case.  The court also opines that Mr. Becker is not qualified to offer an opinion about the security video because he has no training in video analysis.  In addition, the court notes that the video speaks for itself and Becker’s testimony will not be helpful to the jury in evaluating the video.

The defendant also allege that there is no evidence to support Mr. Becker’s opinions about what caused the accident.  While Mr. Becker has provided a few theories, he did not examine the Ferris wheel or conducted any tests.  They argue that an inspection of the Ferris wheel would reveal information that would support or eliminate some of Mr. Becker’s theories.  The court opines that because Mr. Becker’s lack of testing and other evidence to support his theories, his opinions on what caused the accident, his opinions should be excluded.

In addition, the court ruled that Mr. Becker’s opinion that debris lodged in the pin prevented the seat from moving should also be excluded because he did not conduct any tests regarding the debris and has offered no other explanations.  Thus, this opinion should be excluded as well.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness opinion of  Steven Becker is granted.