Railroad Expert Witness Testimony Allowed in Personal Injury Claim

Summary: Railroad Expert Witness allowed to provide expert testimony as the court opined that the credibility of the expert can be determined at cross-examination.

Facts:  This case (Siemers v. BNSF Railway Company – United States District Court – District of Nebraska – December 6th, 2018) involves a personal injury claim.  The plaintiff, who was employed as a Carman employee by the defendant, alleged that he sustained a serious injury to the back during the course of his employment.  The plaintiff alleges that the injury is a result of the defendant’s failure to provide its employees with a safe working environment, safe tools and equipment, and adequate training and supervision.  The plaintiff hired John David Engle Jr. (Railroad Expert Witness) to provide expert testimony on his behalf.  The defendant has filed a motion to exclude this expert from testifying.

Discussion:  After reviewing the evidence in this case, Engle concluded that the plaintiff’s training by the defendant was inconsistent and not standardized.  In addition, Engle concluded that employees who work for the defendant receive inadequate training on the operation on a vertical hand brake and that the employee training diverged from procedures outlined in the defendant’s safety rules.

The defendant argues that Engle’s opinion should be excluded because his opinion is unreliable and speculative.  The court points out that the defendant has not provided the court with any argument or evidence  that suggests that Engle’s methodology is unreliable.  The defendant’s motion argues that Engle’s testimony should be excluded because his opinion is based on inaccurate and self-serving facts.  In addition, the defendant points out the Engle’s testimony has been excluded on two other occasions and contends that his opinion is inherently unreliable.

The court opines that it is not persuaded by the defendant’s argument that, because Engle’s testimony has been excluded before, it should also be excluded in this case.  The court also opines that Engle’s purported testimony in the present case is factually distinguishable from the instances where his testimony was excluded.

Also, the defendant’s latter argument, that Engle’s opinion relies only on the plaintiffs’ unsubstantiated  self-serving statements while ignoring other evidence, also does not stand up.  The court states that specialized knowledge of an expert in railway braking safety would be helpful to the jury in this case.

Last, the court also opines that whether the plaintiff’s testimony is credible is a matter that can be addressed during cross-examination and that the defendant’s objections go to the weight of the evidence and not the admissibility.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of John David Engle Jr. is denied.