In August of 2010, the United States Court of Appeals Sixth Circuit heard a case that involved a car accident and the issue of expert testimony was the focal point. (See Rose v. Truck Centers, inc., 2010 WL 3069613 (C.A.6 (Ohio))).
In Rose, the truck driver and passenger brought a products liability car accident lawsuit against the manufacturer of the steering gear. The truck driver lost control of the truck when the truck began “freewheeling.” The lower court dismissed the case and this Appellate Court sustained the lower court’s ruling. The reasoning is as follows.
The Plaintiffs in this car accident were the owners of the truck and had put in new steering gear which the Defendant had sold and certified as being secure. Id. The Plaintiffs took the truck out for a ride and that is when they got into the car accident. At trial the Plaintiffs presented an ASE certified truck mechanic as their expert. The car accident occurred in May of 2006 and Plaintiff’s expert did not inspect the vehicle until November of 2006.
This Court held that “proffered expert truck mechanic was qualified to testify regarding process of torquing steering gear bolts and how misstep in such process could affect integrity of truck’s steering gear, in products liability action against manufacturer of truck’s steering gear; expert’s experience as mechanic gave him specialized knowledge in area of truck mechanics and steering gears, which knowledge enabled him to explain possible cause of accident, and mechanic examined steering gear at issue.”
But, this Court also held that “testimony by proffered expert truck mechanic that loss of power steering fluid due to loose valve housing bots resulted in truck driver losing benefit of power steering and losing control of truck when truck began “freewheeling,” lacked adequate reliability as to whether allegedly defective re-manufactured steering gear caused accident, in products liability action against manufacturer of steering gear; mechanic did not test to replicate his theory of what happened during accident nor identify any tests by other individuals demonstrating same, mechanic first examined truck six months after accident yet report was based on assumption that valve housing bolts that secured valve housing to steering gear were at precise degree of looseness that they were at time of accident, and such assumption was actually contradicted by evidence that bots did not have same degree of tightness at time of examination.”
“In order to qualify as an expert under Rule 702 a witness must establish his or her expertise by reference to “knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education.” The Defendants in this car accident case objected to Plaintiff’s expert testifying as to certain things outside his scope of expertise. The district court agreed. And for the above reasons, the Appellate Court affirmed.
Thus, in the case at hand, the trial court carefully looked at what expertise the expert had and limited the expert to testifying only to that which he was truly an expert in. Since the trial court did not allow the expert to testify as to product defect and causation, summary judgment was appropriate.
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