Railroad Expert Witness Testimony Allowed in Part in Case Involving an Injury on the Job

Summary: Railroad Expert Witness testimony allowed in part related to a personal injury incurred on a railroad car.

Facts:  This case (Grantham v. CSX Transportation, Inc. – United States District Court – Southern District of Georgia – May 17th, 2019) involves an injury allegedly sustained by the plaintiff while working as a carman at the defendant’s Rice Yard in Waycross, Georgia.  The plaintiff claims that he stepped on a used brake shoe and injured his left knee while attempting to connect air hoses between railcars.  The plaintiff hired Railroad Expert Witness David Joe Lydick to provide testimony.  The defendant has filed a motion to exclude this expert from testifying.

Discussion: The defendant moves to exclude the expert witness testimony of Mr. Lydick regarding the following: 1) Conditions that did not cause or contribute to the plaintiff’s accident; 2) the lighting conditions at the time of the plaintiff’s accident; 3) whether the defendant violated 49 C.F.R. § 213.37; 4) whether vegetation prevented the plaintiff from being able to see the brake shoe; and 5) whether the plaintiff was responsible for the accident.

The defendant alleges that the court should prohibit Mr. Lydick from opining that the area where the accident occurred was poorly lit and that the defendant did not maintain adequate lighting equipment for nighttime operations in the area where the accident occurred.  The court opines that Mr. Lydick may not testify regarding the degree of darkness at the time and location of the accident but may opine about the adequacy of lighting equipment.

Mr. Lydick opines that the presence of ryegrass within the gage of the rail violated 49
C.F.R. § 213.37 which regulates the presence of vegetation on railroad property on or adjacent to the roadbed.  Mr. Lydick’s opinion was based on an interview he conducted with the plaintiff, the plaintiff’s deposition testimony, and photographs provided by the plaintiff’s counsel.  The court opines that Mr. Lydick will be allowed to testify regarding ryegrass within the gage.

The defendant also argues that Mr. Lydick should not be allowed to offer testimony about whether vegetation prevented the plaintiff from seeing the brake show.  The defendant argues that Mr. Lydick should not be allowed to simply repeat the plaintiff’s testimony as expert opinion.  The court notes that Mr. Lydick testified  that his opinion on this issue is based solely on the plaintiff’s deposition testimony.  Thus, the court opines, Mr. Lydick’s opinion on this issue will not assist the trier of fact and will be excluded.

The court also opines that Mr. Lydick may opine that plaintiff was not responsible for the accident.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of David Joe Lydick is granted in part and denied in part.