Admissibility Rate: .387 (12/31)
Ford v. Nationwide Mutual Fire Ins. Co., No. 02-2115 (1st Cir. Apr. 8, 2003) (unpublished). Injured in auto collision, woman sues to recover damages from other motorist's insurer. Insurer offers trial testimony from accident reconstructionist John Meserve. Jury finds for insurer. Admissibility affirmed. Plaintiff argues expert's testimony should have been excluded because it was impossible to determine speed, direction, and path of vehicles. But expert's analysis was based on damage to vehicles, observation of skid marks, witness reports, and knowledge of physics.
Babcock v. Gen. Motors Corp., 299 F.3d 60 (1st Cir. 2002). Driver is injured and dies after pickup crashes into tree. Were his injuries attributable to "false latching" of allegedly defective seatbelt? District court admits testimony to that effect from plaintiffs' engineering expert and accident reconstructionist, Dr. Malcolm Newman. Jury returns verdict for plaintiff. Admissibility affirmed. Expert determined crash speed by methodology generally accepted in accident reconstruction field and approved by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). He then opined that seatbelt would have restrained passenger at that speed if nondefective and in use, and concluded from inspection of seatbelt that it had indeed been in use just prior to impact. He also illustrated alternative design, actually used in Volvos, that would help prevent false latching. District court did not abuse discretion in admitting testimony.
Jodoin v. Toyota Motor Corp., 284 F.3d 272 (1st Cir. 2002). Woman is paralyzed when her 1988 Toyota 4x4 truck rolls over in collision. In defective design suit against truck manufacturer, woman offers testimony from liability expert, Robert Loyd Anderson, re: (a) accident reconstruction; and (b) rollover tests he conducted on another 1988 Toyota 4x4 truck, to show defective design. District court permits testimony on accident reconstruction, but refuses to admit testimony re rollover tests for want of foundation re history of exemplar vehicle (to show that it was identical to plaintiff's vehicle and had not been altered since purchase). When plaintiffs make offer of proof re rollover testing, district court interrupts to advise that Daubert hearing would also be required before test results could be admissible. Plaintiffs decline to hold Daubert hearing, because district court has indicated it will exclude test results in any event for lack of foundation re exemplar vehicle's history. Plaintiffs have no other evidence to prove design defect, and so district court asks whether plaintiffs will rest case so it may enter judgment as matter of law. Plaintiffs rest, and district court proceeds to enter judgment in defendants' favor. Exclusion reversed. Toyota argues that judgment should be affirmed because plaintiffs offered no evidence on causation or damages, but under Fed. R. Civ. P. 50, judgment as matter of law may be entered before close of plaintiff's evidence, as soon as plaintiff has concluded presentation of evidence on some fact (e.g., design defect) essential to plaintiff's case. Toyota argues that because plaintiffs rested their entire case, subsequent presentation of evidence on causation and damage was waived. But plaintiffs rested only at district court's direction, and cannot fairly be regarded as waiving rights to present evidence on other issues if district court's ruling on admissibility of rollover tests were reversed. Turning to merits of exclusionary ruling, first question is whether tests represented attempts to recreate accident (in which case evidence would be inadmissible unless circumstances of accident and recreation were "substantially similar") or mere testimony re general scientific principles (which would be admissible without any such requirement). This line can be hard to draw, but key determinant is whether jury would likely perceive tests as attempts to recreate accident. Here, that would be jury's natural perception (given similarity of vehicles, etc.), so that testimony is best viewed as accident recreation evidence, and requirement of "substantial similarity" applies. District court erred, however, in holding that substantial similarity of vehicles could be proved only via history of exemplar vehicle. Plaintiffs' expert testified that he inspected vehicles and found them substantially similar in all respects affecting vehicle dynamics. Remanded for new trial.
Zaremba v. Gen. Motors Corp., 360 F.3d 355 (2d Cir. 2004). Injured in automobile crash, plaintiffs sue auto's manufacturer on defective design theory. In support, plaintiffs offer testimony from engineer and accident reconstructionist Donald Phillips, and physician and biomechanical expert Dr. Joseph Burton. District court excludes testimony from both experts and awards summary judgment to manufacturer. Exclusions affirmed. Engineer did not test vehicle, offered no measurements or calculations to support his theory of how accident occurred, conducted no tests and offered no calculations in support of his proposed alternative design, did not subject his theories to peer review and publication, and offered no evidence that others in automotive design community accepted untested propositions underlying his opinions. Physician's testimony was flawed insofar as it relied on engineer's, and was also speculative in other respects.
Simmons v. Ford Motor Co., No. 04-2393 (3d Cir. May 12, 2005) (unpublished). Woman is injured when her Lincoln Navigator spontaneously shifts out of park as she is exiting it. She sues Ford, alleging defective design. Ford moves for summary judgment and to exclude testimony from plaintiff's engineering expert, Clifford Anderson. District court finds him to be qualified but excludes his testimony as unreliable and awards summary judgment to Ford. Exclusion affirmed. Anderson theorized that vehicle was in "false park" but could not explain why vehicle disengaged from park gear, was unable to replicate vehicular movement that caused plaintiff's injuries, and relied on untested hypotheses not supported by evidence. He did not support his alternative design with any mock-up or testing, and could not say that any manufacturer had employed his proposed design, or any other, to successfully eliminate possibility of "false park" in vehicles with automatic transmissions. No abuse of discretion.
Calhoun v. Yamaha Motor Corp., U.S.A., 350 F.3d 316 (3d Cir. 2003). Twelve-year-old girl lies about her age to rent jet ski that carries warning against use by children under fourteen. While riding, she experiences difficulty navigating and crashes into anchored boat at high speed, suffering fatal injuries. Girl's parents sue jet ski manufacturer, focusing on theory that jet ski's "squeeze finger throttle," which resembles braking mechanism on bicycles, constituted design defect. At trial, plaintiffs offer three experts. Dr. Edward W. Karnes, who holds doctorate in psychology with specialty in human factors engineering, is permitted to opine that children in stressful situations would confuse jet ski throttle with bicycle brakes and accelerate when they intended to brake, but is barred from testifying that people in emergency situations tend to react by clenching hands. Dr. Karnes is also permitted to testify re appropriate features of jet ski warnings, and to opine that actual warning was deficient, but is barred from testifying that warning should have set minimum age for operators at 16 rather than 14. Albert Bruton, with sixteen years of experience as marine safety employee, is permitted to describe how jet skis operate, and to explain differences between various brands and models, but is barred from opining on which jet skis or accelerating mechanisms are safest, or on appropriate substantive content for jet ski's product warning. Dr. Robert A. Warren, marine engineer and accident reconstructionist, is permitted to describe squeeze finger throttle's operation, but not to opine that it is unsafe due to similarity with bicycle braking mechanisms, and is barred from opining on product warnings at all. Jury returns verdict for defendants. Exclusions affirmed. Experts lacked appropriate basis or experience to opine on points as to which their testimony was limited.
Testerman v. Riddell, Inc., No. 05-1505 (4th Cir. Jan. 6, 2006) (unpublished). College football player suffers injury when tackled. He sues shoulder pad manufacturer, alleging that manufacturer's agent selected and fitted him with pads that were inappropriate, inadequate, and too small. In support, he relies on testimony from Kent Falb, former head athletic trainer for Detroit Lions. District court excludes Falb's testimony and awards summary judgment to manufacturer. Exclusion affirmed. District court identified three questions Falb was unable to answer definitively: (1) whether area of impact was covered by shoulder pad; (2) which blow during tackle caused injury; and (3) whether different pads would have mitigated or prevented injury. It is true that district court reviewed evidence in determining what other potential causes of plaintiff's injury existed, but this does not mean that district court impermissibly focused on questions of weight, or on evaluating merits of Falb's conclusions. Falb's inability to address key issues of causation went to reliability of his approach. No abuse of discretion.
O'Neill v. Windshire-Copeland Assocs., LP, 372 F.3d 281 (4th Cir. 2004). Tenant falls backwards over second-story balcony railing and is rendered quadriplegic. She brings diversity action against landlord, alleging negligence because 32-inch balcony railing is 16 inches lower than building code requires. District court excludes testimony from plaintiffs' expert Dr. David A. Thompson, professor of biomechanics, who would opine that someone of tenant's athletic ability probably would not have leaned too far backwards and fallen, and that gust of wind likely triggered her fall. District court admits lab report from hospital showing tenant's post-accident blood alcohol level at .18. Jury finds tenant contributorily negligent and judgment is rendered for landlord. Exclusion affirmed; admissibility affirmed. Opinion of biomechanics expert was more supposition than science. Tenant says lab report was unreliable because her arm was wiped with isopropyl alcohol swab before blood was drawn. But lab results employing this same procedure are routinely used by physicians making treatment decisions, and tenant's own toxicologist testified he had no reason to doubt result. Tenant also notes that lab result was printed on form which was marked with words "these results should not be used for any legal purpose." But hospitals do not make decisions about admissibility; courts do.
Arroyo v. Ford Motor Co., No. 02-1408 (4th Cir. Feb. 27, 2003) (unpublished). Ford Windstar rolls over, killing one occupant and injuring others. District court admits evidence from Dr. Charles Benedict, who opines that detached tract bar caused accident. However, district court excludes plaintiffs' evidence of tests on comparable vehicles, in part because steering inputs in tests were not shown to emulate driver's actual behavior. Exclusion affirmed. In view of deviation of test conditions from those at time of accident, district court cannot be said to have abused its discretion in excluding evidence.
Hodge v. Soper, No. 00-1087 (4th Cir. Sept. 5, 2001) (unpublished). Boy is killed when bicycle collides with tractor-trailer. Testimony from plaintiff's accident reconstructionist is excluded at trial (except for opinion as to speed of tractor-trailer). Exclusion affirmed. Defendants supported their Daubert challenge with references to accident reconstruction literature and with affidavits from defendants' own accident reconstruction experts tending to show that plaintiff's expert's expertise and methods were speculative, without basis, and unreliable. Plaintiff did not rebut defendants' material. District court did not abuse discretion in granting defendants' motion to exclude testimony from plaintiff's expert.
Holesapple v. Barrett, No. 00-1537 (4th Cir. Mar. 2, 2001) (unpublished). Woman sues son-in-law in admiralty after suffering two broken ankles in boating mishap. District court awards summary judgment after excluding admiralty expert's opinion that son-in-law was negligent in piloting boat. Exclusion affirmed. Expert was qualified but his opinion was unsupported by scientific analysis, attempts at reconstruction, or reference to any authority for operation of small vessels. "This affidavit presents an almost perfect example of an ipse dixit opinion."
Certain Underwriters at Lloyd's v. Sinkovich, 232 F.3d 200 (4th Cir. 2000). Yacht owner hears loud bump while at sail. Owner disengages autopilot and attempts to steer, but steering mechanism is locked. Owner shifts motor to neutral and goes to inspect yacht, from topside and below. Having determined that yacht is taking on water, owner returns to helm and again attempts to steer, whereupon yacht strikes submerged rocks. Elapsed time from initial bump to collision with rocks is perhaps twenty minutes. Maritime insurer retains marine surveyor to investigate accident. Insurer subsequently brings declaratory judgment action, seeking declaration that owner violated "sue and labor" clause in policy requiring insured to take appropriate steps to mitigate damage. Insurer does not list marine surveyor as expert or disclose his report in pretrial discovery. District court rules that surveyor may nevertheless testify, but only as lay witness. At trial, surveyor proceeds to answer hypothetical questions and offer opinions requiring specialized knowledge. Admissibility reversed. Surveyor had no personal knowledge of events, and his opinions required specialized knowledge that only experts could supply.
Hafstienn v. BMW of N. Am., LLC, No. 05-20424 (5th Cir. Aug. 17, 2006) (unpublished). BMW 323i collides with GMC truck, rolls over, splits apart, and fatally ejects six-year-old child. To show causation in their products liability suit against BMW, child's surviving family members offer crash-test evidence and three experts: (1) Thomas Grubbs, mechanical engineer and accident reconstructionist, whose testimony would explain details of plaintiffs' crash test; (2) metallurgist "Dr. McLellan," who proposes to testify that BMW's defective spot welds made it less crashworthy; and (3) osteopath and biomechanical expert "Dr. Nicodemus," who proposes to opine that child died from blow to head on hitting pavement, not from any injury sustained while still inside car. After three-day hearing, district court grants BMW's motion to exclude crash-test evidence and testimony from all three experts. Family stipulates that district court's ruling leaves it without sufficient evidence to show causation, and summary judgment is awarded to BMW. Exclusion affirmed. District court legitimately excluded evidence of crash-test, because test used Volkswagen Passat, whose extensive dissimilarities with BMW 323i render test irrelevant. As for experts: (1) District court excluded Grubbs as unqualified and because he relied on inaccurate data. Those grounds need not be reached on appeal, because given district court's proper exclusion of plaintiffs' crash-test evidence, testimony from Grubbs explaining that crash test would not have assisted trier of fact in any event. (2) Nor need admissibility of McLellan's testimony be reached on appeal, because he testified he did not know whether properly constructed BMW 323i would have split apart in accident. (3) District court ruled that Nicodemus was unqualified and his testimony unreliable, but those issues need not be reached, because even if his testimony were taken as true, plaintiffs' evidence does not establish that any defect in BMW 323i caused child's ejectment.
Greene v. B.F. Goodrich Avionics Sys., Inc., 409 F.3d 784 (6th Cir. 2005), cert. denied, 74 U.S.L.W. 3503 (U.S. 2006). Pilot is fatally injured in helicopter crash. Widow attributes accident to failure of gyroscope and sues its manufacturer. In support, she offers testimony from accident investigator Douglas Herlihy, who opines that gyroscope failure was likeliest cause of accident. Jury finds for plaintiff. Admissibility affirmed. Manufacturer says district court erred in admitting Herlihy's testimony because it found that he was not qualified as gyroscope expert. But district court held Daubert hearing and concluded that Herlihy was competent to testify as accident investigator and to opine on cause of crash. However, because plaintiff produced insufficient evidence at trial to sustain claim of defective manufacture, judgment is reversed.
Smith v. Toyota Motor Corp., No. 01-6585 (6th Cir. July 14, 2004) (unpublished). In vehicle rollover case, trial court admits testimony from Toyota's accident reconstructionist, Dr. Greg Smith, who opines that vehicle's roof and window frame collapsed due to impact with log, and not because of any design defect. Jury finds for Toyota and plaintiff appeals. Admissibility affirmed. Expert is highly qualified and experienced. Plaintiff notes that expert found log and shattered glass at scene only during inspection conducted sixteen months after accident, and argues that expert did not establish that conditions at scene remained unchanged over that time. Plaintiff cites cases excluding testimony about temporary conditions found at accident scene after substantial periods of time had passed, but those cases involved lay testimony, not experts. Moreover, relevant conditions at instant scene were not so transient as to preclude admissibility. Log and glass deposits were physically durable and carefully documented. Length of time between accident and inspection went to weight of testimony, not admissibility.
Clark v. Chrysler Corp., 310 F.3d 461 (6th Cir. 2002), vacated on other grounds, 540 U.S. 801 (2003). Man dies after being thrown from Dodge pickup in crash. In suit against vehicle manufacturer, decedent's estate offers testimony from engineers and accident reconstructionists Billy Peterson and Andrew Gilberg. Jury finds vehicle was defective in design and/or manufacture, and renders verdict for estate. Admissibility affirmed. Mr. Gilberg opined that door latch was defective in design, and that state-of-the-art door latch would have prevented decedent's ejection from pickup. Chrysler objects that Mr. Gilberg conducted no tests specifically relating to accident, but he did examine vehicle, had extensive experience and knowledge of relevant door latch system, and provided detailed bases for his opinions. Chrysler's similar objections to Mr. Peterson's similar testimony about vehicle's B-pillars also fail, for similar reasons.
Pride v. Bic Corp., 218 F.3d 566 (6th Cir. 2000). Man mysteriously catches fire while inspecting pipe behind his house. In products liability action, widow's theory is that man's butane lighter first failed to extinguish, igniting man's clothing, then exploded, dousing man with isobutane and fueling conflagration that ultimately caused his death. Widow offers three experts: mechanical engineer who has testified in numerous products liability suits, on subjects ranging "from car seat belts to manure spreaders"; firefighter who has previously testified in Bic lighter cases on causes and origins of fires; and analytical chemist. Engineer opines, based on inspection of lighter, that exploding-lighter scenario is most likely cause of fire, and that mishap was caused by manufacturing defect, and also by failure of lighter's design to incorporate redundant safety features. Firefighter opines that lighter was most likely cause of fire based on elimination of other plausible causes as well as information suggesting that fire started in victim's breast pocket. Chemist opines, based on information re condition of plastic from lighter, that lighter exploded. After Daubert hearing, magistrate recommends exclusion of all three experts and award of summary judgment in favor of defendants. District court denies widow's requests to tender additional expert testimony and reopen Daubert hearings, and accepts magistrate's recommendations. Exclusion affirmed. Trial court is owed deference on evidentiary rulings, and de novo review of record supports trial court's conclusions. None of widow's experts conducted replicable laboratory tests showing that explosion of lighter was consistent with failure to extinguish caused by product defect. Engineer's testimony re manufacturing defect is contradicted by widow's other witnesses and by defense experts' lab tests. Firefighter admitted he was not engineer, had performed no tests, and was not expert in lighters. Chemist admitted lack of expertise in fire investigations and did not personally examine lighter. Chemist also designed lab experiment to test his hypothesis but said he "chickened out and shut the experiment down."
Clay v. Ford Motor Co., 215 F.3d 663 (6th Cir.), cert. denied, 531 U.S. 1044 (2000). Ford Bronco rolls over, killing and injuring occupants. In suit against manufacturer, plaintiffs offer mechanical engineer who testifies re defective design and also re his reconstruction of accident. Admissibility affirmed. Ford says plaintiffs' expert did not inspect Bronco and was late in visiting scene of accident, but does not explain how these points are material to reliability of expert's methods. Ford also says expert did not test his theory that Broncos oversteer and "jack," but Ford does not challenge principle that dynamics can be used to analyze vehicle design and predict vehicular motion. District court acted within its sound discretion in concluding that Ford's points went to weight, not admissibility.
Smith v. BMW N. Am., Inc., 308 F.3d 913 (8th Cir. 2002). Plaintiff suffers quadriplegia after air bag fails to deploy in accident. In suit against vehicle's manufacturer, she offers Dr. Larry Williams, accident reconstructionist, to opine that vehicle's "barrier equivalent velocity" was high enough that properly functioning air bag would have deployed, and Dr. Stephen Erickson, forensic pathologist, to opine that plaintiff's injuries would have been mitigated or prevented, had air bag deployed. Defendant moves to strike both experts. District court holds Daubert hearing, grants motion to strike, and awards summary judgment to defendants. Exclusion reversed. District court correctly ruled that Dr. Williams's computation of barrier equivalent velocity rested on flawed measurements, and therefore properly excluded Dr. Williams's opinion on that point. However, when defendants' own accident reconstructionist corrected those flawed measurements and recalculated barrier equivalent velocity adopting Dr. Williams's admissible opinion on principal direction of force, resulting velocity of 14.4 m.p.h. fell in range in which genuine issue of material fact exists as to whether air bags should deploy. As for Dr. Erickson, district court's exclusion seems ultimately predicated on Dr. Erickson's lack of expertise in biomechanics, physics, or engineering. However, Dr. Erickson was not called to quantify force applied to plaintiff's body during accident, or to calculate how much force her neck could withstand. He was called to offer opinion that she suffered injury when auto struck embankment and not during subsequent rollover. He based this opinion on information that did fall within his field (medicine) -- viz., injuries plaintiffs sustained (e.g., wedge fracture in neck) versus injuries she did not (e.g., no head trauma).
Shoaf v. Am. Way Transps., Inc., No. 02-1663 (8th Cir. Sept. 23, 2002) (unpublished). Injured in collision with 18-wheeler, plaintiff sues trucking company. Accident reconstructionist John Bentley testifies for company re whether it was possible, as plaintiff claims, for 72 foot-long truck to come off access road and maneuver all 18 wheels into left lane before making right turn into truck stop. Jury finds for plaintiff, but plaintiff is dissatisfied with size of award and appeals, seeking new trial. Admissibility affirmed. Plaintiff says expert's testimony was not based on sufficient facts or data, scientific principles, and reliable methods. But expert considered photographs, physical evidence, and calculations based on time and distance. "Disagreements about methodology and technique go to the weight the jury should give the evidence rather than its admissibility." Moreover, plaintiff does not show how admission of expert's opinion harmed him or affected any substantial right.
J.B. Hunt Transp. v. Gen. Motors Corp., 243 F.3d 441 (8th Cir. 2001). Tractor trailer rear ends Camaro, which then also collides with Toyota Corolla and Ford Crown Victoria, catastrophically injuring Camaro passenger. Truck company settles with injured passenger, then sues Camaro's manufacturer, as well as manufacturer of Camaro's seats, for contribution. Defendants move before trial to exclude, as unsupported by evidence, testimony from truck company's accident reconstructionist in support of theory that truck struck Camaro only once, making for total of three impacts with Camaro (one by truck, one by Toyota, one by Ford). Under impression that trucking company will offer eyewitness testimony supporting its three-impact theory, district court denies motion. At trial, however, trucking company's expert testifies he cannot reconstruct accident scientifically because he lacks sufficient information. After jury is excused, expert explains that his three-impact theory is based not on eyewitness evidence but rather on review of photographs of paint scratches on vehicles. District court then excludes reconstructionist's testimony, because uncontradicted eyewitness evidence is that truck struck Camaro not once but twice. District court also excludes testimony from trucking company's "foamologist" re causal relationship between foam in car seat and passenger's injuries. (Per district court: "He is not an expert in foam, and as best I can tell, there is no science of foam.") Jury finds for defendants. Exclusion affirmed. Accident reconstructionist conceded his testimony was speculative, and analytical gap between data and reconstructionist's opinion was simply too large (citing Joiner). Testimony from "foamologist" was also properly excluded, because: (1) his testimony was premised on reconstructionist's disallowed three-impact testimony; (2) "foamologist" had no formal training or course work in foam ("nor do we know of any that exists in this area"); and (3) "foamologist's" testimony was not derived from any scientifically reliable methodology. District court was entitled to choose among reasonable methods for excluding "expertise that is fausse and science that is junky" (quoting Justice Scalia's concurrence in Joiner).
Guidroz-Brault v. Mo. Pac. R.R., 254 F.3d 825 (9th Cir. 2001). Unknown saboteurs tamper with train rails and disable electric warning system. Passengers injured in consequent derailment bring negligence action against railroad, offering three expert witnesses: (1) locomotive engineer, who testifies to duty of locomotive engineers to maintain lookout; (2) technical lighting engineer, who testifies that displacement in rails should be visible for 500 feet; and (3) accident reconstructionist, who testifies, assuming visibility of damage to tracks, that emergency brakes should have been applied 400 feet from site of derailment. District court awards summary judgment after excluding testimony from all three experts as speculative and unreliable. Exclusion affirmed. District court gave only abbreviated consideration to experts' qualifications and reliability, because district court believed plaintiffs' claims to be barred in any event on theory that sabotage of tracks was unforeseeable and superseding cause of injuries. However, even assuming, arguendo, that saboteurs' conduct was not superseding cause of derailment, plaintiffs must show that railroad could have averted accident. In this light, district court was correct to exclude most of evidence and did not abuse its discretion. (1) Locomotive engineer properly testified on operating procedures and standards of care for railroad engineer, but testimony on duty of lookout falsely presupposed that some defect in tracks was visible, whereas no record evidence established this. (2) Lighting engineer's testimony contradicted locomotive engineer's as to visibility of tracks. Contradictions between methodologies of plaintiffs' experts make exclusion under Daubert appropriate "to some extent," at least absent firm record evidence that some manifestation of track displacement would have been visible. (3) Accident reconstructionist's testimony was likewise predicated on unsupported assumption that track damage was visible.
United States v. Wildcat, No. 99-30345 (9th Cir. Oct. 4, 2000) (unpublished), cert. denied, 531 U.S. 1174 (2001). On trial for second degree murder arising from automobile accident, defendant offers accident reconstructionist. District court permits expert to testify re speed of vehicle and to opine that laws of kinematics would have pushed occupants to left, but not to opine on identity of driver. Exclusion affirmed. Witness admitted he was not expert on occupant kinematics, had not published articles on any facet of accident reconstruction, and conducted no tests involving low speed rearward rollovers.
Ellis v. Coleman Co., No. 99-35341 (9th Cir. Aug. 9, 2000) (unpublished). Jury returns verdict for defendant in products liability action after watching defendant's videotaped accident reconstruction. Admissibility reversed. Accident reconstruction evidence is admissible only if Daubert is satisfied, and only if tests were conducted under conditions similar to those in accident at issue. Record here shows critical differences in conditions that may have affected results. Given powerful nature of reenactment evidence, danger of prejudice outweighed probative value of evidence.
Weaver v. Blake, 454 F.3d 1087 (10th Cir. 2006). Weaver's northbound vehicle collides with Blake's southbound vehicle. Weaver sues Blake. During pretrial Daubert proceedings, trial court rules that state police investigator may testify for Blake re facts and data he observed and gathered at accident scene, but may not offer expert opinions based on technical analysis interpreting those facts and data (e.g., accident-reconstruction testimony opining on which vehicle crossed over road median). At trial, Blake's counsel elicits testimony from investigator that from his observations, tracks from Weaver's vehicle went over "what the middle of the road would be." Weaver's counsel objects based on pretrial ruling. District court overrules objection, stating: "Center line can mean either [of] two things: either the precise center line, or his observed center line. You can explore that on cross-examination." Jury finds both parties equally at fault and so Weaver takes nothing. Affirmed. Any departure by the district court from its pretrial ruling was harmless. "[T]his case presents a situation where the district court and the parties were drawing fine distinctions about the permissible scope of a witness's trial testimony on subjects that were previously disclosed and subject to rigorous analysis at a Daubert hearing. Drawing such fine distinctions concerning the scope of an expert's testimony is heavily dependent on the particular context in which that testimony is presented at trial, and therefore this task may not be amenable to a definitive and unequivocal pretrial ruling." Investigator did not offer diagrams or cloak his testimony in scientific mantle; he merely testified based on his personal observation. In any event, jury's apportionment of fault did not necessarily depend on which driver, "if any," crossed center line of roadway.
United States v. Gabaldon, 389 F.3d 1090 (10th Cir. 2004), cert. denied, 125 S. Ct. 1688 (2005). Charged with kidnapping and murder, defendant offers testimony from accident reconstructionist Dr. Alan Watts to show that blows to victim were possibly or probably delivered by someone else. Trial court excludes testimony and jury convicts. Exclusion upheld. Expert's nine conclusions were variously conclusory, untested, unhelpful to trier of fact, mere repetitions of information from autopsy reports, and/or dependent on expertise in pathology or toxicology, which expert does not possess. No abuse of discretion.
Tuato v. Brown, No. 02-2007 (10th Cir. Dec. 30, 2003) (unpublished). Driver loses control of pickup truck, which skids across median and collides with oncoming semi-truck, killing pickup's three occupants. Their survivors bring wrongful death action against semi-truck driver. Defendant offers expert testimony on accident reconstruction and biomechanics from Brian Charles. District court overrules plaintiffs' objections to expert's qualifications and testimony at Daubert hearing and again at trial, concluding that objections go to credibility and weight, not admissibility. Admissibility reversed. District court took no testimony at Daubert hearing and did not make sufficient findings on Daubert issues. Remanded for appropriate Daubert proceedings and new trial.
Edic v. Century Prods. Co., 364 F.3d 1276 (11th Cir. 2004). Toddler suffers injury when ejected from child restraint system (car seat) during automobile accident. Parents sue car seat's manufacturer, alleging defective design. Defendants counter with expert testimony from accident reconstructionist Kevin Breen, to rebut testimony from eyewitness who says she saw child fly into air, hit vehicle's ceiling, and land on vehicle's back seat. Breen testifies that critical events in accident would have occurred within less than 0.1 seconds. Defendants also offer testimony from biomechanical expert Dr. James H. McElhaney, who likewise opines that events occurred too quickly for witnesses outside vehicle to observe what happened to occupants, and also that toddler's injuries occurred prior to toddler's ejection from car seat. District court denies plaintiffs' motion to exclude testimony from both experts, and awards judgment as matter of law to defendants at conclusion of trial. Admissibility affirmed. Parents complain that trial court did not outline its entire Daubert analysis in denying their motion in limine. But no authority requires that district courts offer comprehensive Daubert analyses. In any event, district court expressly adopted comprehensive analysis from defendants' response. Parents also say that district court should not have permitted defendants' experts to alter their reports to incorporate information not available at time reports were served. But parents fail to specify which statements by experts should have been excluded on these grounds, and fail to explain how they were prejudiced. District court erred, however, in finding plaintiffs' evidence insufficient as matter of law. Remanded for new trial.