Vocational Evaluation & Rehabilitation Expert Witness Allowed in Part

Plaintiff sued defendant car manufacturer after being involved in a car accident that left her paralyzed from the neck down.  The plaintiff hired a Vocational Evaluation & Rehabilitation Expert Witness to provide expert witness testimony.  The defendant filed a motion to exclude this testimony.  The court granted the motion in part and denied the motion in part.

Facts:  This case (Mendoza v. General Motors LLC et al – United States District Court – Eastern District of California – April 26th, 2018) involves a claim of products liability.  The plaintiff was injured by a crash whereby the vehicle in which she was travelling was rear-ended by another vehicle.  Her cervical spine was fractured and she was paralyzed from the neck down.  The plaintiff claims that the vehicle’s crash worthiness was defective.  She has hired Vocational Evaluation & Rehabilitation Expert Witness, Kent Jayne to provide testimony in this case.  The defendant filed a motion to exclude the testimony on three grounds.

Discussion:  The court notes that Mr. Jayne has a Bachelor’s degree in Economics, a Masters in Business Administration and a Masters in Rehabilitation Counseling.  In addition, he is a certified rehabilitation counselor with decades of experience in the area.  Thus, the court opines that Mr. Jayne is qualified to offer an expert opinion in this case.

The defendant maintains that Jayne’s reports are based on errors and omissions and undocumented information, his opinions on the plaintiff’s vocational potential and earning capacity are speculative, and that he is not qualified to offer an opinion on traumatic brain injuries.

The defendant’s first two arguments are based on documents and reports from when the plaintiff was discharged from the rehabilitation facility.  The plaintiff does not currently received agency based home health care.  The defendant refers to Mr. Jayne’s opinion that the plaintiff will not be capable of employment, even though the plaintiff  is enrolled in a forensic psychologist degree program.  The court opines that these contentions go to the weight of the evidence and not the admissibility and that any arguments can be made during cross examination of Mr. Jayne.

The court does agree with the last argument, that Mr. Jayne is not qualified to opine on traumatic brain injuries.  The court notes that Mr. Jayne is not a medical doctor and has no training in neurology.  Even though Mr. Jayne is only summarizing medical reports, the court still concludes that Mr. Jaybe should not be allowed to testify on this issue.  That said, Mr. Jaybe will be allowed to testify on a cognitive test that he administered to the plaintiff as it is the type that he would normally administer as a rehabilitation counselor.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Mr. Kent Jayne is granted in part and denied in part.