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Graham v. All American Cargo Elevator

United States District Court, Fifth Circuit

September 16, 2013

SHARON GRAHAM, and BILLY BOB GRAHAM, Plaintiffs,
v.
ALL AMERICAN CARGO ELEVATOR, and LEESON ELECTRIC CORPORATION, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT ALL AMERICAN CARGO ELEVATOR, LLC'S MOTION [138] TO EXCLUDE EXPERT FOR FAILURE OF METHODOLOGY

HALIL SULEYMAN OZERDEN, District Judge.

BEFORE THE COURT is Defendant All American Cargo Elevator, LLC's ("All American's") Motion [138] to Exclude Expert for Failure of Methodology. Plaintiffs Sharon and Billy Bob Graham have filed a Response [148] and All American a Reply [155]. After considering the pleadings on file, the record, and relevant legal authorities, the Court finds that All American's Motion [138] should be denied.

I. BACKGROUND

In 2007, Defendant All American sold Plaintiffs Sharon and Billy Bob Graham a residential cargo elevator for use in their elevated home in Pearlington, Mississippi. Dep. of Sharon Graham [140-5] at p. 11-12, 19-20. All American installed the elevator and serviced it pursuant to a maintenance agreement purchased by the Grahams. Id. On October 18, 2010, the cargo elevator fell approximately ten feet to the ground when Ms. Graham stepped onto its platform to retrieve a three to four pound potted plant. Id. at pp. 48-53, 56, 78. Ms. Graham descended with the elevator and alleges that she crushed her heel and suffered other injuries upon impact. Id. at pp. 48-53, 56, 78. The Grahams assert that the shaft on the gearbox of the elevator's drawing mechanism sheared, causing the elevator to free fall. Pls.' Resp. [151] at pp. 1-2. They allege that All American is liable to them because "the cause of product failure was misalignment of the drum which was undisputedly welded on the Leeson [Electric Corporation] gear box shaft by All American." Id. at p. 2.

On October 26, 2011, the Grahams filed a Complaint against All American in the Circuit Court of Hancock County, Mississippi. Pls.' Compl. [140-1] at pp. 2-4. They filed an Amended Complaint on October 31, 2011, and a Second Amended Complaint, adding the gearbox manufacturer Leeson as a Defendant, on January 20, 2012. Pls.' Am. Compl. [140-2] at pp. 3-4; Pls.' Sec. Am. Compl. [140-3] at p. 1. The action was removed to this Court in February 2012. The Grahams allege

that the product which broke, was designed and/or manufactured in a defective manner and breached implied and express warranties and failed to conform to other factual representations, upon which the Plaintiffs (or Co-Defendant, All American) relied upon in electing to use said product and;
(1) The defective condition rendered the product unreasonably dangerous to the user or consumer and;
(2) The defective and unreasonable condition of the product caused the damages to the Plaintiff which recovery is sought.

Pls.' Sec. Am. Compl. [140-3] at p. 2. The Grahams additionally assert "[t]hat the Defendants failed to adequately warn of possible failure and free fall potential." Pls.' Compl. [140-1] at p. 2; First Am. Compl. [140-2] at p. 2.

The Grahams' claims against Leeson (now known as RBC Manufacturing Corporation) have been dismissed. Agreed Order of Dismissal [160]. Now before the Court is All American's Motion [138] to Exclude the Grahams' sole expert A.J. McPhate, a professional engineer. All American characterizes McPhate's reports as nothing more than "credentials and a subjective opinion." All Am.'s Reply [155] at p. 4 (citing Brown v. Illinois Cent. R.R. Co., 705 F.3d 531, 537 (5th Cir. 2013)). All American contends that "this Court should preclude A.J. McPhate from offering any opinions that the cargo elevator violated any standards of care applicable to either design or manufacture of [the subject cargo elevator]" because he does not "cite to any objective standards as to what is actually required in the industry." All Am's Reply [155] at p. 8; All Am.'s Mem. [141] at p. 8.

II. DISCUSSION

A. Legal Standard

Federal Rule of Evidence 702 provides:

A witness who is qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education may testify in the form ...

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