United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Oxford Division
LOLITA PENNINGTON, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS REPRESENTATIVE OF THE ESTATE AND WRONGFUL DEATH BENEFICIARIES OF ANDRIANA HALL, et al. PLAINTIFFS
UPS GROUND FREIGHT, INC., a/k/a UNITED PARCEL SERVICE DEFENDANT
B. BIGGERS, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
cause comes before the court upon the plaintiffs' motion
to exclude expert testimony pursuant to Rule 702 of the
Federal Rules of Evidence and Daubert v. Merrell Dow
Pharmaceuticals, Inc.¸509 U.S. 579 (1993).
Plaintiffs request that the court exclude the testimony of
Defendant's expert Dr. Steven Arndt.
702 governs the admission of expert testimony, providing:
A witness who is qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill,
experience, training, or education may testify in the form of
an opinion or otherwise if: (a) the expert's scientific,
technical, or other specialized knowledge will help the trier
of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in
issue; (b) the testimony is based on sufficient facts or
data; (c) the testimony is the product of reliable principles
and methods; and (d) the expert has reliably applied the
principles and methods to the facts of the case.
Daubert, the Supreme Court provided additional
guidance on the admission of expert testimony. 509 U.S. 579
(1993). The Daubert court emphasized that expert
testimony must be both relevant and reliable before it may be
admissible. Id. At 589. However, “[v]igorous
cross- examination, presentation of contrary evidence, and
careful instruction on the burden of proof are [still] the
traditional and appropriate means of attacking shaky but
admissible evidence.” Id. At 596. Further,
rejection of expert testimony is the exception rather than
the rule. See Fed. R. Evid. 702, adv. Comm. Notes
has designated Dr. Arndt as an expert in the field of human
factors. Human factors is the scientific study of the
capabilities and limitations of people as they interact with
the environment, technology, roadways, and so forth. See
Mihailovich v. Laatsch, 359 F.3d 892 (7th Cir. 2004).
Plaintiffs do not attack Dr. Arndt's qualifications in
this field. Instead, Plaintiffs argue that Dr. Arndt's
opinions are unreliable, irrelevant, and will not help the
jury determine a fact in issue.
reliability, Plaintiffs contend that Dr. Arndt's opinions
are mere regurgitations of fact witness testimony. A careful
review of Dr. Arndt's expert report and deposition
testimony, however, negates this contention. Dr. Arndt
thoroughly researched, investigated and analyzed the case.
Dr. Arndt's actions included inspecting the accident
scene at night, driving through the accident scene in a
similar tractor-trailer, taking photographic and video
footage depicting the illumination available on the night in
question, reviewing vehicle black box data, researching
historical weather data for the area, and reviewing all
materials in the record. Dr. Arndt also reviewed scientific
literature on human factors guidelines for road systems and
nighttime crash scenarios. Further, “[a]s a general
rule, questions relating to the bases and sources of an
expert's opinion affect the weight to be assigned to that
opinion rather than its admissibility and should be left for
the jury's consideration.” Vitterbo v. Dow
Chem. Co., 826 F.2d 420, 422 (5th Cir. 1987).
additionally argue that Dr. Arndt's opinions are
unhelpful to the jury and irrelevant. Whether expert
testimony will help the jury determine a fact in issue
“goes primarily to relevance.” Daubert,
at 591. “Evidence is relevant if  it has any tendency
to make a fact [of consequence] more or less probable than it
would be without the evidence.” Fed.R.Evid. 401.
“The standard for relevance is a liberal one.”
EEOC v. Manville Sales Corp.¸27 F.3d 1089,
1093 (5th Cir. 1994). Dr. Arndt's opinions are clearly
relevant as they primarily pertain to the main issue in
dispute: whether Defendant had sufficient time to react to
and avoid colliding with the decedent's car. In
particular, Dr. Arndt discusses Defendant's perception of
the decedent's vehicle resting in the road way, the
cattle truck travelling directly ahead, the low levels of
lighting and conspicuity, the heavy rainfall, and how those
factors combined to effect Defendant's reaction time.
Such information will certainly aid the jury in determining
the aforementioned disputed issue.
these reasons, the court finds that Dr. Arndt's expert
report and testimony should be admitted. The court notes,
however, that Dr. Arndt has been designated as an expert only
in the field of human factors. It is undisputed that he is
not qualified in the field of accident reconstruction.
Accordingly, any attempt by Dr. Arndt to offer opinions which
extend beyond human factors and into the field of accident
reconstruction will be prohibited.
accordance with the foregoing analysis, it is ORDERED
AND ADJUDGED that Plaintiffs' motion to exclude
the expert testimony of ...