Tires Expert Witness Not Excluded

Plaintiff filed products liability and personal injury lawsuit against motorcycle tire manufacturer.  Plaintiff hired a Tires Expert Witness to provide testimony.  Defendant filed motion to exclude expert witness testimony, which was denied by the court.

Facts:  This case (Griffith et al v. Goodyear Dunlop Tires North America LTD – United States District Court – Western District of New York – September 28th, 2018) involves a motorcycle crash.  The plaintiffs claim that a manufacturing defect in their motorcycle tire mounted on the real wheel of their Harley Davidson caused the tire to blowout, which caused them to crash and the plaintiffs’ having personal injuries and damages.  The defendant claims that the tire was not defective and that the crash was caused by the plaintiffs’ improper use and maintenance of the tire.  The defendant also disputes the extent of the plaintiffs’ injuries.  The plaintiff has hired Tires Expert Witness Gary Derian to provide testimony on their behalf and the defendant has filed a motion to exclude this expert witness testimony.

Discussion: The defendant seeks to exclude the expert witness testimony of Derian due to his lack of qualifications and argues that his opinions lack basis in fact, science or sound methodology and are thus unreliable.

Derian will testify that the tire had a manufacturing defect caused by poor bonding between the polyester cord and the rubber skim stock.  Derian continues by stating that the poor bonding was caused by a lack of adhesive dip on large portions of the ply.  The defendant alleges that Derian reached his conclusion by observing the tire in the post-accident state.  In addition, they allege that he did not conduct any testing, did not rule out alternative causes, and disregarded evidence that was inconsistent with his opinion.

The defendant states that Derian has no experience designing, manufacturing, or evaluating motorcycle tires.  The court rules that this argument is too narrow, opining that Derian is a mechanical engineer who has past experience as a tire engineer and product manufacturer for a tire manufacturer.  In addition, the court notes that Derian has been previously allowed to offer expert opinions on the design and manufacture of tires.

The defendant also challenges Derian’s opinion that there was a lack of bonding in the tire, but is not able to show that Derian’s opinions could not validly be reached through examination, which is a reliable method in certain cases.  The court thus opines that any argument in this area goes to the weight of the evidence, not the admissibility.  The court also opines that the defendant has not established that Derian’s opinions are so different from accepted methodology so that they should be excluded.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Gary Derian is denied.