Mechanical Engineering Expert Witness Testimony Excluded in Personal Injury Case

Plaintiff filed suit against defendants after being injured after a fall.  Plaintiff hired a Mechanical Engineering Expert Witness to provide testimony.  Defendants filed a motion to exclude, which was granted by the court.

Facts:  This case (HOOK et al v. WHITING DOOR MANUFACTURING CORP. et al – United States District Court – Western District of Pennsylvania – February 14th, 2019) involves a personal-injury lawsuit arising from injuries that the plaintiff sustained while employed as a truck driver.  The plaintiff was injured when the pull strap on the trailer’s rear rolling door detached, causing him to fall from the trailer’s rear entrance to the ground, thus sustaining injuries.  The plaintiff has hired Mechanical Engineering Expert Witness David Kassekert to provide testimony.  The defendants have filed a motion to exclude this expert from testifying.

Discussion:  The court opines that the expert testimony of Mr. Kassekert should be excluded because his conclusions do not meet the reliability standard under Daubert.

The court notes that the defendants do not question Kassekert’s expertise or qualifications.  The defendants argue that Kassekert did not discuss testing, experiments, calculations, or other methodology to arrive at his conclusion that the design of Whiting’s strap attachment is defective.  The plaintiff states that Kassekert is qualified to render an expert opinion due to his educations, and engineering experience.  The plaintiff also argues that Kassekert did not need to perform testing on the trailer door because it was tested through its day-to-day use.

The court states that Kassekert’s methodology and conclusions are spelled out in only three paragraphs and did not perform calculations, tests, or experiments to support his conclusion.  In addition, the court states that Kassekert does not provide any data to support his conclusion.  Also, the court opines that Kassekert admits that he reached his opinions based only on his intuition.

The court notes first that Kassekert’s methods may consist of testable hypotheses, as tests would show whether rivets attach a door strap more securely than bolts.  The court notes however that he did not conduct this type of testing or reference any other tests to support his conclusions.  Second, the court notes that there is no evidence that Kassekert’s methods have been the subject of peer review, as he did not cite to any literature or explain how it supports his conclusions.

Also. the court notes that Kassekert does not provide any information on the standards for his methodology, does not establish that his methodology is generally accepted, and does not mention any non-judicial uses to which his methods have been put.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of David Kassekert is granted.