United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lake Charles Division
CYNTHIA CONNER, et al.
BROOKSHIRE BROTHERS LTD, ET AL.
MEMORANDUM RULING AND ORDER
T. TRIMBLE, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the court is a "Motion to Exclude and/or Limit Opinions
of Jason T. English" (R. #33) wherein Defendant, Coca
Cola Bottling Company United, Inc. ("Coca-Cola")
moves to exclude and/or limit the opinions of Mr. English at
the bench trial of this matter.
retained Mr. English as a "human factors/safety expert;
he opined that (1) Coca-Cola failed to exercise reasonable
care to install, inspect and maintain their coolers, and (2)
Coca-Cola failed to establish a safety program for the
installation, inspection and maintenance of their coolers.
Coca-Cola argues that Mr. English's opinions are not
supported by any methodology, scientific data, and are not
supported by evidence in the case. Additionally, Coca-Cola
complains that the "jury" is fully competent to
assess the situation without the necessity of a safety
expert. The court notes that the instant lawsuit is a bench
trial and will be decided by the undersigned.
noted by Plaintiffs, this lawsuit involves Plaintiff's
fall on a wet substance located in front of several soda
coolers; there is testimony that the clear liquid which
caused the fall trailed to underneath a certain Coca-Cola
Daubert v. Merrell Do Pharmaceuticals, Inc.,
United States Supreme Court provided the analytical framework
for determining whether expert testimony is admissible under
Rule 702. Both scientific and nonscientific expert testimony
are subject to the Daubert framework which requires
trial courts to make a preliminary assessment of
"whether the expert testimony is both reliable and
relevant. When expert testimony is challenged under
Daubert, the party offering the expert's
testimony bears the burden of proving its reliability and
relevance by a preponderance of the evidence. "Reliability
is determined by assessing whether the reasoning or
methodology underlying the testimony is scientifically
valid." To be relevant, the expert testimony must
assist the trier of fact to understand or determine a fact in
complains that Mr. English did not investigate or inspect the
coolers in question, and thus he made his opinions on safety
protocol without any basis. Plaintiffs argue that Mr. English
will testify as to the standards applicable to prevent slip
and falls, the types of inspections that should have been
conducted, standards applicable to employee training and the
need to inspect equipment. Plaintiffs assert that it will
show that Coca-Cola employees should have been trained to
check the overflow pan, and if there was a problem,
investigate it and correct the problem. Plaintiffs suggest
that had Coca-Cola employees followed that protocol, they
would have discovered the transportation bracket had not been
removed from the cooler.
next maintains that Mr. English should not be allowed to
express an opinion as to fault because the jury can make that
determination using common sense and knowledge. In other
words, there is no need for a safety expert to testify
concerning whether or not Coca-Cola's alleged failure to
establish a safety program equates to liability. As noted
previously, this is a bench trial.
court is of the opinion that Mr. English's expert opinion
is not entirely irrelevant. Because this is a bench trial, to
the extent that the court finds any portion of his testimony
irrelevant, the court will exercise its discretion to limit
his testimony as it deems necessary during the trial of this
matter. Accordingly, it is ORDERED that the
motion to exclude is hereby DENIED.
DONE AND SIGNED in Alexandria, Louisiana on this
26th day of March, 2018.
 509 U.S. 579(1993).
Burleson v. Tex. Dep't of
Criminal Justice, 393 F.3d 577, 584 (5th Cir. 2004); see
also Kumho Tire Co., Ltd. v. Carmichael, 526 ...