Plumbing & HVAC Expert Witness Testimony Not Allowed

Plaintiff sued defendant after she allegedly slipped and fell on a puddle of water.  The plaintiff hired a Plumbing & HVAC Expert Witness.  The defendant filed a motion to exclude this expert testimony and the court agreed.  The testimony was not allowed.

Facts:  This case (Walker et al v. Target Corporation – United States District Court – Southern District of Mississippi – June 14th, 2017) involves a slip and fall inside of the the defendant’s store.  The plaintiff alleges that she slipped on a puddle of water and was subsequently injured.  In order to prove her case, she hired Chris Herring (Plumbing & HVAC Expert Witness) to provide expert witness testimony on refrigeration systems and how water forms related to how those systems operate, and safety procedures that should be employed at retail stores regarding known hazards related to the operation of those systems.  The defendant filed a motion to exclude this expert witness, arguing that Herring is not qualified to offer expert witness testimony in this case and that his testimony is not reliable.

Discussion: Herring stated that he intends to testify that the plaintiff slipped on water that came from condensation that formed on a cart and product in the aisle where the incident occurred.  In addition, he stated that he will testify that the accumulated water would have been seen by any Target employee who was inspecting the area.  The defendant argued that Herring’s opinions are not reliable and the court agreed, stating that Herring’s opinions lack supporting data and any detectable methodology.  The court agreed with the defendant.

The court opined that Herring’s report does not provide any actual facts and that his testimony is based on unsupported assumptions.  On numerous occasions in his report, he made assumptions.  For example, she assumed that the cart and the yogurt were refrigerated before they were brought out to stock the shelves.  In addition, he did not supply the temperature and humidity data in his report, despite his statement that all facts and data were in his report.  Thus, Herring’s report does not pass muster with this part of Daubert.

In addition, Herring’s report does not have any explanation of his analysis or methodology pertaining to key points in his report.  For example, he did not show any calculations on how dew point is calculated.  Herring did explain that he used a Trane psychometric chart to calculate dew point, but did not include this chart in his report or explain how it was significant.

In an affidavit filed by the plaintiff, Herring states that he used reliable methods and standards from the industry to make his calculations but he did not show any methodology or any of the calculations that he allegedly performed.

Last, because the plaintiff did not establish Herring’s qualifications by a preponderance of the evidence, the court opined that Herring was not qualified to provide expert testimony in this case.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Chris Herring is granted.