Vocational Evaluation & Rehabilitation and Economics Expert Witness Testimony Allowed in Part

Plaintiff sued defendant after an accident on defendant’s vessel.  Plaintiff hired a Vocational Evaluation & Rehabilitation Expert Witness and an Economics Expert Witness.  The defendant filed a motion to exclude, which was granted in part and denied in part by the court.

Facts: This case (Noel v. Inland Dredging Company, L.L.C. et al – United States District Court – Eastern District of Louisiana – April 23rd, 2018) involves an accident involving the plaintiff.  The plaintiff alleges that while working for the defendant on their vessel, he was thrown forward and other men fell on top of him.  The plaintiff filed suit against the defendant for past and future wage loss as well as other claims.  In order to prove his case, the plaintiff hired Vocational Evaluation & Rehabilitation Expert Witness, Glenn M. Herbert and Economics Expert Witness, Dr. G. Randolph Rice.  The defendants filed a motion to exclude the testimony of these experts.

Discussion: The defendants argue that Herbert’s testimony on the plaintiff’s work-life expectancy and future economic loss should be excluded because they are unreliable.  In addition, they claim that Dr. Rice’s testimony should be excluded because they are based on Herbert’s flawed calculations.

Herbert opines that the plaintiff’s disability will reduce his participation in the labor force by between 10.1 and 12.3 years.  He came up with these numbers by using the Gamboa Gibson Worklife Tables.  The defendant argues that the data sets from the Gamboa Gibson tables are too broad to predict outcomes in specific individual cases.  The court opines that Herbert does not explain how plaintiff’s specific disability will have an effect on his work-life expectancy.  In addition, Herbert does not show that the tables can reliably predict the work-life expectancy of a specific individual.  Thus, the court opines that Herbert’s opinion on the plaintiff’s educed work-life expectancy should be excluded from his testimony.

The defendant also wished to exclude Herbert’s testimony on future economic loss.  They note that Herbert did not include plaintiff’s full work history.  Herbert annualized wages he earned at another company before he was injured.  The defendant argues that the plaintiff never earned more than $30,000 per year and that any calculation of his pre-accident earning capacity should take into account his entire work history.  The court opines that this portion of Herbert’s testimony should be admissible and that any arguments should be made during witness cross-examination.

Regarding Dr. Rice, the court opines that his opinion on plaintiff’s pre-injury earning capacity should be admissible because Herbert’s opinion was admissible. However, Dr. Rice’s opinion on plaintiff’s work-life expectancy should be excluded because his opinion relies on Herbert’s opinion on the issue, which was ruled to be inadmissible.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness opinions of Glenn M. Herbert and Dr. G. Randolph Rice are is granted in part and denied in part.