United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division
O. Hickey, Chief United States District Judge
the Court is Defendant Elmer Enrique Ventura's Motion to
Exclude Plaintiff's Liability Experts. ECF No. 102.
Plaintiff Marqchello Jordan has filed a response. ECF No.
112. The Court finds the matter ripe for consideration.
case arises from an automobile accident that occurred on May
6, 2015, on I-30 near Prescott, Arkansas. Jordan and Ventura
are both tractor-trailer drivers. Jordan claims that Ventura
entered into Jordan's travel lane and pushed his
tractor-trailer into another disabled tractor-trailer parked
on the side of the interstate. Jordan and Ventura gave
differing statements to the police as to how the accident
happened, and no other eyewitnesses have been identified.
Jordan alleges that he suffered injuries as a result of the
trial, Jordan intends to offer the expert testimony of Ben
Railsback and David Dorrity. Ventura moves to exclude the
testimony of these experts, arguing that the experts'
opinions will not be helpful to the jury.
Rule of Evidence 702 permits a qualified expert to give
opinion testimony if the expert's specialized knowledge
would allow the jury to better understand the evidence or
decide a fact in issue.” Lee v. Andersen, 616
F.3d 803, 808 (8th Cir. 2010) (citing United States v.
Arenal, 768 f.2d 263, 269 (8th Cir. 1985)). However,
“[o]pinions that ‘merely tell the jury what
result to reach' are not admissible.” Id.
at 809 (quoting Fed.R.Evid. 704 advisory committee's
note). If the subject matter of a proffered expert's
testimony “is within the jury's knowledge or
experience . . . the expert testimony [is] subject to
exclusion ‘because the testimony does not . . . meet
the helpfulness criterion of Rule 702.'”
Railsback is an accident reconstruction expert. Ventura
argues that Railsback should not be allowed to testify at
trial because his proffered testimony would not be helpful to
the jury. Jordan asserts that Railsback's proffered
testimony is helpful because of the conflicting accounts
regarding how the accident occurred.
accident at issue encompasses two separate collisions: a
collision between Jordan and Ventura (the “first
collision”) and a collision between Jordan and the
driver of the disabled truck on the side of the interstate
(“the second collision”). It appears to the Court
that there is no dispute as to whether the first collision
occurred but instead how it occurred. It also appears to the
Court that there is no dispute regarding the facts of the
second collision. Railsback's expert report offers no
opinion as to how the first collision occurred, and his
proffered testimony regarding the second collision is
unnecessary and would not be helpful to the jury. The jury
should be able to ascertain the facts of the first collision
through the evidence presented at trial, including the
testimony of the parties, the testimony of the officer who
investigated the accident, and photographs of the vehicles
and the accident scene. Railsback's proffered testimony
would not help the jury to better understand this evidence or
decide any fact in issue. Because Railsback's proffered
testimony does not meet the helpfulness criterion of Federal
Rule of Evidence 702, the Court finds that Railsback will not
be allowed to testify at trial.
Dorrity is a trucking safety expert. Ventura argues that
Dorrity should not be allowed to testify at trial because his
proffered opinions are either matters of common knowledge,
legal issues, or irrelevant. Further, Ventura argues that
specific opinions of Dorrity are speculative and have no
basis in fact. Jordan asserts that Dorrity should be allowed
to testify as to the appropriate industry standards of truck
drivers operating tractor-trailers on open highways because
this proffered testimony is both relevant and helpful to the
jury. Upon consideration, the Court will allow Dorrity to
testify as to the industry standards. However, the Court will
exclude the specific opinions of Dorrity as set forth below:
Dorrity's opinions regarding Ventura's failure to
keep a proper lookout, failure to maintain his lane of
travel, and failure to monitor his mirrors properly are
excluded. It is evident from Dorrity's expert report that
these opinions are based solely on the fact that an accident
occurred. For example, Dorrity states that “[i]t is
likely that Mr. Ventura failed to monitor his mirrors prior
to his lane change, otherwise he would have seen Jordan, or
knew he had moved into his blind spot.” ECF No. 102-3,
Dorrity's opinions that Ventura must have been traveling
faster than Jordan because Ventura was in the left-hand lane
at the time of the accident and that a truck driver's
presence in the left lane at the time of an accident
indicates that the driver is “impatient and
speeding” and/or “aggressive or reckless”
are excluded. Such testimony is speculative and unsupported
by sufficient facts. See Marmo v. Tyson Fresh Meats,
Inc., 457 F.3d 748, 757 (8th Cir. 2006) (“Expert
testimony is inadmissible if it is speculative, unsupported
by sufficient facts, or contrary to the facts of the
Dorrity will not be allowed to testify that the accident was
preventable according to the trucking industry standards.
“[E]xclusion of expert testimony is appropriate if the
terms used have a separate, distinct, and special legal
meaning.” Hogan v. Am. Telephone & Telegraph
Co., 812 F.2d 409, 411 (8th Cir. 1987).
“Preventable accident” is defined in the Federal
Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, see 49 C.F.R.
385.3, as one “that could have been averted but for an
act, or failure to act by the . . . driver.” Because
the term has a special and distinct legal meaning, it is not
a proper subject of expert testimony in this case.
reasons set forth above, the Court finds that Ventura's
Motion to Exclude Plaintiff's Liability Experts (ECF No.
102) should be and ...