Vocational Evaluation & Rehabilitation Expert Witness Allowed to Testify in Maritime Case

Summary: Three experts including a Vocational Evaluation & Rehabilitation Expert Witness were allowed to testify regarding lost earnings in a tankerman’s injury case. 

Facts: Carr vs Enterprise Marine Services LLC,  Case No. 19-14777 Section “G”(3) (U.S. District Court Eastern District of Louisiana) involves a maritime injury dispute. The plaintiff claims he sustained spine injuries while working as a tankerman for Enterprise Marine Services (EMS). The plaintiff referenced the Jones Act, 46 U.S.C § 30104 for his claims. Under the Jones Act, if a seamen is injured while working, there is a right to utilize civil action as protection. An unsafe workplace and unreliable machine parts were cited as the basis for the case. Damages for the injuries, lost revenue, expenses for medical care, and enjoyment of life were sought by the plaintiff. Beyond the claims of injury, the plaintiff looked to bring three expert witnesses which included a Vocational Rehabilitation Expert, an Economic Expert Witness, and an Admiralty and Maritime Expert Witness to the case. Enterprise Marine Service put forth a motion in limine to limit plaintiff’s expert witness testimony. 

Discussion: Enterprise Marine Service saw Carr’s claims of injury and potential lost revenue as illegitimate and tried to remove all of the expert witnesses, including a Vocational Rehabilitation Expert Witness, Kasey Crawford. Crawford alleges that had Carr not been injured, he would have eventually entered into the Steersman Program and been a Captain in the future. Enterprise Marine Services moved to strike Crawford’s position as an expert witness in the case. Additionally, an Economic Expert Witness, Dr. Rice, suggested that had Carr continued to work until he was seventy-four, he would have lost significant profit caused by the injury. Enterprise Marine Services also wanted to exempt this claim from the case. 

The plaintiff argued that there was evidence that he was working his way up to eventually become a captain, and therefore the expert witness testimony was relevant. The plaintiff also argued that the claim of working till seventy-four is acceptable because the origin of the information does not change admissibility. Enterprise Marine Services continued to try and strike Ms. Crawford from being an expert witness during this case. Ms. Crawford established her Life Care Plan Report which included medical records from Carr’s physician, the Dictionary of Occupational Titles, and other research. It was then concluded that her argument was rooted in evidence, but still would need to be cross examined. The court opined that Ms. Crawford’s argument was allowed and would not be stricken from the case.

 Enterprise Marine Services also argued that Dr. Rice’s theory was flawed. They argued that the idea that Carr would have worked till age seventy-four was unrealistic. EMS continued that his methodology to calculate lost wages was not wrong, but rather his assumptions on the plaintiffs future work life and being a part of the Steersman Program was seen as being not entirely true. This was also applied to the marine safety expert’s claims because it was too speculative and vague regarding Carr’s future plans. 

Conclusion: The court found the testimony of the plaintiff’s expert to not be speculative nor vague, and denied Enterprise Marine Services’s motion to exclude the Plaintiff’s Expert Witness Testimony.