Orthopedic Surgery, Professional Engineering, and Trucking Expert Witness Testimony Allowed in Part

Plaintiff sued defendant for negligence in response to a car accident involving two tractor-trailers.  The plaintiff hired an  orthopedic surgery expert witness, a professional engineering expert witness, and a trucking expert witness to provide testimony.  The defendant filed motions to exclude.  The court granted the three motions in part and denied them in part.

Facts:  This case (Celedonio Bautista v. MVT Services, LLC and Thomas M. Estrada – United States District Court – District of Colorado – December 7th, 2017) involves a motor vehicle collision between two tractor-trailers.  The Plaintiff (“Mr. Bautista”) alleges that the Defendant (“Mr. Estrada”) was travelling at a an unsafe speed for winter conditions and suffered severe injuries. Mr. Bautista is seeking economic and non-economic damages.  Mr. Bautista has hired three experts to assist in his case:  Robert Bess, M.D. (orthopedic surgery expert witness), Anne Stodola, P.E. (professional engineering expert witness), and Roger Allen (trucking expert witness).  The defendant filed a motion to exclude the testimony of these experts.

Discussion:  The defendants allege that Dr. Bess’s opinion that the plaintiff will need additional surgeries on his shoulder should be excluded because it is dependent on the assessment of Mr. Bautista’s treating physician, Dr. Chase.  Dr. Chase testified that further surgeries would not be necessary.  Thus, the defendants argue that Dr. Bess’s opinion is speculative.  Dr. Bess testified that he would rely on Dr. Chase’s assessment  because he (Dr. Bess) had not seen the status of Mr. Bautista’s shoulder.  The court opined that Dr. Bess will be allowed to testify on the possibility of future shoulder surgery, but he will be excluded from testifying that a future surgery is a medical certainty.  As to whether Dr. Bess’s testimony is cumulative and unnecessary, the court stated that the plaintiff has a doctor that he could call to testify as well.

The defendants also wish to exclude the expert witness testimony of Anne Stodola’s reconstruction opinions stating that they are based on flawed conclusions about the location of the trucks before and at the time of the collision. Ms. Stodola testified that she lacked physical evidence of the point of impact due to the heavy snowfall at the time of the accident.  She also testified that she relied on the traffic accident report as well as a translation of Mr. Estrada’s statement to form her conclusions.  The court opined that Ms. Stoloda adequately described the methodology she used and that these methods were deemed reliable.  Any other arguments can be brought up at cross-examination.

The defendants also argue that any testimony that Ms. Stoloda used in relying on the Texas Commercial Drivers’ Handbook should be excluded because it is irrelevant and does not have any probative value. The court agreed, stating that any opinions that she uses to relying on the handbook is beyond her expertise and will be excluded.

Conclusion: The motions to exclude the expert witness testimony of Robert Bess, M.D, Anne Stodola, P.E, and Roger Allen are denied in part and granted in part.