Vocational Evaluation & Rehabilitation Expert Witness Testimony Allowed in Employment Litigation

Plaintiff filed suit against defendant related to a personal injury claim.  Defendant hired a Vocational Evaluation & Rehabilitation Expert Witness to provide testimony.  Plaintiff filed a motion to exclude this expert, which was denied by the court.

Facts:  This case (HOWARD v. DEMO SALVAGE – United States District Court – District of Maine – January 31st, 2019) involves a personal injury claim.  The plaintiff filed a complaint against the defendant asserting claims of negligence and vicarious liability.  The defendant hired Vocational Evaluation & Rehabilitation Expert Witness Edmond Provder to provide testimony.  The plaintiff filed a motion to exclude this expert testimony.

Discussion:  Mr. Provder will opine on the plaintiff’s employability, transferable skills learned from past occupations, earning capacity in the local labor market, and will make a determination on the feasibility of her receiving vocational rehabilitation services.  Mr. Provder opines that the plaintiff can be employed as a Pipefitter and Pipefitter Helper and has the ability to access the labor market and can perform jobs requiring certain physical demands which are within her vocational capacity.

The plaintiff wished to exclude Mr. Provder’s expected testimony by stating that his testimony is not reliable and that he reaches conclusions which are beyond his expertise.  The plaintiff alleges that Mr. Provder’s testimony is not reliable because he employed a flawed methodology to reach his conclusions.  The plaintiff states that Mr. Provder did not review all of the materials available to him and, thus, has an inadequate foundation for his opinions.  The plaintiff also argues that Mr. Provder went beyond the scope of his expertise in forming his opinion that he did not believe the plaintiff’s PTSD had a lot of impact on her ability to work.  The plaintiff suggests that Mr. Provder is substituting his own psychological opinion for those of the true psychological experts.

The court opines that does nor conclude that Mr. Provder’s expert opinion is so fundamentally unsupported that it can offer no assistance to the jury.  The court further states that Mr. Provder’s report tracks his six-part methodology, and his opinions are based on the information when he wrote his report as well as using his experience as a vocational expert, as well as labor market research.

In addition, the court opines that Mr. Provder may provide an opinion, based on his experience and professional expertise, that the plaintiff’s PTSD diagnosis does not necessarily mean she has no earning capacity.  The court further states that the plaintiff may object to Mr. Provder’s specific testimony and vigorously cross-examine him to illustrate that the jury should give his opinions little or no weight.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Edmond Provder is denied.