Mechanical Engineering Expert Witness Testimony Allowed

Summary: Mechanical Engineering Expert Witness allowed to provide testimony even though the defendant’s argued that he was not qualified to offer an opinion on miters saws as he does not have the requisite experience on the topic.

Facts:  This case (Landi et al v. Home Depot USA, Inc. et al – United States District Court – Middle District of Florida – September 24th, 2019) involves a products liability claim.  The plaintiff claims that he was injured while using a miter saw manufactured by the defendant and purchased from Home Depot.  The plaintiff alleges that he was using the saw to cut crown molding, operating the saw with his right hand and holding the crown molding with his left.  The plaintiff claims that while the blade was spinning, the crown molding was pulled to the right and the plaintiff’s left arm was pulled as well.  The blade subsequently cut into the plaintiff’s left forearm.  The plaintiff hired Mechanical Engineering Expert Witness Dr. Charles E. Benedict to provide expert witness testimony and the defendant has filed a motion to exclude this expert from testifying.

Discussion:  The court first notes that Dr. Benedict has worked as an engineer since 1971.  He received his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering.  The court also notes that Dr. Benedict has co-authored more than 20 publications, has filed over 100 patents, and has testified in more than 200 trials.

The defendants allege that Dr. Benedict is not qualified to offer an opinion about miter saw design and manufacture, product warnings and instructions. saw operation, biomedical engineering, or human factors issues with miter saws.  The court opines that the defendants have set an impossibly high standard and that Dr. Benedict’s failure to gain experience in one way does not take away his education, training, and over 40 years of experience as a mechanical engineer.  Thus, the court opines that Dr. Benedict is qualified to offer an opinion in this case.

The defendants also argue that Dr. Benedict’s opinions are not reliable by attacking his methodology.  The court notes that it is concerned with admissibility, not the credibility of Dr. Benedict or the weight of his testimony.  The court opines that the defendants should use cross-examination to argue against Dr. Benedict’s methodology.

The defendants also allege that Dr. Benedict’s opinions will not be helpful to the trier of fact in this case, by listing reasons why the trier of fact should not believe him.  The court opines that this argument too goes to the weight of the testimony, not the admissibility.  The court opines that Dr. Benedict’s testimony will help the trier of fact understand the evidence and decide whether a defect in the saw caused the injury to the plaintiff and that it is up to the jury to come to a decision as to whether or not Dr. Benedict’s opinions are correct.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Dr. Charles E. Benedict is denied.