Vocational Evaluation & Rehabilitation Expert Witness Testimony Allowed in Slip & Fall Litigation

Summary: Vocational Evaluation & Rehabilitation Expert Witness testimony allowed because the expert’s use of the term “non-severe disability” is founded on a valid methodology.

Facts:  This case (TELMANOSKI et al v. BONEFISH GRILL, LLC et al – United States District Court – District of New Jersey – November 29, 2022)  involves a personal injury claim.  The plaintiffs, Robert Telmanoski and Donna Brandz, allege that Telmanoski was delivering food to a Bonefish Grill in New Jersey and slipped on a piece of paper while inside the restaurant and suffered numerous injuries.  In order to prove his case, Telmanoski hired Vocational Evaluation & Rehabilitation Expert Witness Dr. Joseph T. Crouse to provide expert witness testimony.  The defendant filed a motion to exclude this expert witness testimony.

Discussion:  The defendant alleges that Dr. Crouse’s expert opinion about Telmanoski’s earnings capacity is not a good “fit”.  Bonefish states this part of the testimony would not assist the trier of fact because his opinion that Telmanoski had a “non-severe disability” does not have a foundation and that Dr. Crouse used an Census definition of disability that was outdated.

The court opines that Dr. Crouse’s finding that Telmanoski has a “non-severe disability” is based on enough grounds and thus reaches the requirement to be admitted under Daubert.  The court notes that Dr. Crouse used a variety of sources to come to his conclusions, such as the American Community Survey.  In addition, Dr. Crouse also interviewed Telmanoski to identify his functional limitations.

In addition, the court states that even though Dr. Crouse used an outdated Census definition, the plaintiff does not establish why the difference between the older and newer definition would be invalid.  The court states that any discussion of this issue is best done during cross-examination.

Conclusion:  The motion to dismiss the expert witness opinion of Dr. Joseph T. Crouse is denied.