Mechanical Engineering & Life Care Planning Expert Witness Allowed

Plaintiff sued defendant after a slip and fall accident occurred on a vessel owned by the defendant.  the plaintiff hired a Mechanical Engineering Expert Witness and a Life Care Planning Expert Witness to provide testimony.  The defendant filed a motion to exclude these experts.  The court denied the motion.

Facts:  This case (Botelho v. Nordic Fisheries, Inc. – United States District Court – District of Massachusetts – May 18th, 2018) involves a fall suffered by the plaintiff while on board a fishing vessel owned by the defendant.  The dispute is whether the plaintiff slipped on the metal deck of the vessel or whether he slipped because he stepped on a skate fish.  The plaintiff hired two experts to provide testimony on his behalf: Mr. Christopher D. Barry, P.E. (Mechanical Engineering Expert Witness), Mr. William H. Burke, Ph.D. (Life Care Planning Expert Witness).  The defendant has filed a motion to exclude the testimony of all three of these experts.

Discussion:  The defendant moves to exclude Mr. Barry’s testimony on numerous grounds:  First, the plaintiff alleges that he has failed to perform certain tests.  Second, the tests that he did perform were not reliable; Third, there is no basis for his opinions on alternative design; Last, Mr. Barry does not opine on the ultimate cause of the injuries suffered by the plaintiff.  The court rules that the motion is denied.  First, Mr. Barry is not required to perform any particular tests in order to arrive at his opinion.  Also, any other arguments go to the weight of the evidence, not their admissibility.

The defendant argues that the Dr. Burke’s testimony should be excluded because he did not rely on an identifiable methodology, provided opinions that can only be given by medical doctors, and that the jury might be confused into believing that certain care has been prescribed to the plaintiff.  The court rules that Dr. Burke is qualified to render an opinion on the future care needs of the plaintiff.  In addition, the court opines that Dr. Burke’s testimony appears to be a reasonable method for conceiving a life-care plan.  Also, the defendant has not provided a reason why certain kinds of care would have to be prescribed by a medical doctor and that they seem to be within the range of formulating a life-care plan.  regarding whether defendant’s accusations that Dr. Burke’s assessments are unsupported and speculative, those arguments go to the weight of the evidence, not the admissibility.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Mr. Christopher D. Barry, P.E. and Mr. William H. Burke, Ph.D is denied.