Mechanical Engineering Expert Witness Testimony Excluded

Plaintiff sued his former employer under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the Florida Civil Rights act of 1992.  The defendant hired a mechanical engineer expert witness to provide testimony.  The Plaintiff filed a motion to exclude and the court granted the motion.

Facts:  This case (Eveler v. Ford Motor Co. – United States District Court – Middle District of Tampa – June 13th, 2017) involves an action by a former employee of the City of Tampa against the City.  The plaintiff filed suit under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the Florida Civil Rights act of 1992.  The plaintiff was in an accident where his truck crashed into a vehicle in front of it, causing damage.  The City concluded that the plaintiff did not secure the parking brake and terminated his employment for lying to police officers and the City when he maintained that he had pulled the parking brake.  The plaintiff maintains that the real reason he was terminated was because he pursued a discrimination claim against the City before the accident occurred.    In the current case, the City has hired Christian Yates, a mechanical engineer, to assist in their case.  The plaintiff has filed a motion to exclude this testimony.

Discussion: Yates opined that the plaintiff did not engage the parking brake and did not put the vehicle in neutral before exiting the vehicle at the time of the accident.  In addition, Yates stated that the plaintiff did not follow the proper procedure to exit his vehicle and had demonstrated a habit of not parking the vehicle properly.  Last, Yates opined that the driver knew or should have known that he left the vehicle in drive and did not put the parking brake on.

The Plaintiff argued that Yates does not have the proper expertise to testify about Plaintiff’s “habit” or what he “knew or should have known”.  In addition, the Plaintiff argued that Yates’ causation testimony will not assist the trier of fact.

The court agreed with the Plaintiff, stating that the expert testimony must be excluded because portions are based on pure speculation and that it would not assist the trier of fact.  In the opinion, the court concluded that Yates is not qualified to to testify about the Plaintiff’s habit or state of mind.  In fact, the court noted, no expert is truly qualified about a person’s credibility or state of mind as that should be left to the finder of fact.

The defendant argued that Yates should be allowed to testify as to how the vehicle reacted, but the court concluded that this would not assist the trier of fact because the Plaintiff now admits that he did not set the parking brake.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Christian Yates was granted.