Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Bruce v. Ancra International, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

April 12, 2018

THOMAS BRUCE
v.
ANCRA INTERNATIONAL, LLC

         SECTION: “H” (5)

          ORDER AND REASONS

          JANE TRICHE MILAZZO, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court are five motions filed by Plaintiff Thomas Bruce: a Motion in Limine to Exclude the Testimony of Marshal Clark (Doc. 35), a Motion in Limine to Exclude Photographs Not Included in Clark's Report (Doc. 36), a Motion in Limine to Exclude Reference to Collateral Sources (Doc. 37), a Motion in Limine to Prohibit Reference to Labels on Exemplar Bars (Doc. 38), and a Motion to Strike Untimely Raised Affirmative Defenses (Doc. 45). For the following reasons, the Motion to Exclude the Testimony of Marshal Clark is DENIED, and the motions to Exclude Photographs Not Included in Clark's Report, Exclude Reference to Collateral Sources, Prohibit Reference to Labels on Exemplar Bars, and Strike Untimely Raised Affirmative Defenses are GRANTED.

         BACKGROUND

         This products liability action arises out of injuries that Plaintiff Thomas Bruce allegedly suffered while using a winch bar manufactured by Defendant Ancra International, LLC (“Ancra”). Plaintiff alleges that he was using the bar for its intended purpose-to tighten straps around building materials on the back of a truck-when the tip of the bar snapped, causing the main shaft of the bar to strike Plaintiff in the shoulder and driving Plaintiff to the ground as a result.[1] Plaintiff alleges that a Chinese company fabricated the bar that Defendant subsequently labelled and sold.[2] Plaintiff suffered physical injury as a result of the incident and alleges that those injuries prevent him from working. Plaintiff sues for damages for past and future medical expenses, pain and suffering, past and future lost wages, and loss of enjoyment of life.

         Plaintiff now submits four motions in limine and one motion to strike. Defendant opposes Plaintiff's Motion to Exclude the Testimony of Marshal Clark and Motion to Strike Untimely Raised Affirmative Defenses, but does not oppose Plaintiff's Motion to Exclude Photographs Not Included in Clark's Report, Motion to Exclude Reference to Collateral Sources, or Motion to Prohibit Reference to Labels on Exemplar Bars.

         LAW AND ANALYSIS

         I. Plaintiff's Motion to Exclude the Testimony of Marshal Clark

         Plaintiff moves to exclude the testimony of Defendant's expert witness Marshal Clark as failing to meet the standard of Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc.[3] The admissibility of expert testimony is governed by Federal Rule of Evidence 702, which provides that,

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.

         The current version of Rule 702 reflects the Supreme Court's decisions in Daubert and Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael.[4] The threshold inquiry is whether the expert possesses the requisite qualifications to render opinion on a particular subject matter.[5] Having defined the permissible scope of the expert's testimony, a court next inquires whether the opinions are reliable and relevant.[6] In undertaking this tripartite analysis, courts must give proper deference to the traditional adversary system and the role of the jury within that system.[7] “Vigorous cross-examination, presentation of contrary evidence, and careful instruction on the burden of proof are the traditional and appropriate means of attacking shaky but admissible evidence.”[8] As the “gatekeeper” of expert testimony, the trial court enjoys broad discretion in determining admissibility.[9]

         Plaintiff argues that Clark's report and testimony should be excluded because a) Clark is not qualified to offer the opinions contained in his report, b) Clark failed to obtain basic facts relevant to the bar's failure, and c) Clark relied on speculation to form his conclusions. This Court disagrees.

         Clark has a Ph.D. in metallurgical and materials engineering, teaches metallurgical engineering as an adjunct for the University of Utah, has authored multiple publications and presentations regarding metallurgy and welds, and has worked for many years in the field of metallurgic failure analysis. Clark has extensive experience evaluating metals and welds to determine the cause of their failure, exactly the issue on which he opines. The fact that Clark has not previously analyzed a winch bar specifically is not grounds for exclusion. Clark, therefore, is qualified to render expert opinions as to the causes of the failure of the bar at issue here.

         Plaintiff argues that Clark's opinions fail to meet the standard of reliability set forth in Daubert because Clark did not determine the load limit of the bar, has never operated a winch bar, and did not know or seek to determine what welding process was used to join the tip of the bar to its shaft. None of these facts are grounds to exclude Clark's testimony. Rather, they are better addressed on cross examination. The core of Clark's opinion is that visual indicators on the fracture surface of the bar tip show that the break was caused by fatigue due to overloading over time. Such a conclusion does not necessarily depend on knowing the load limit of the bar or the type of weld used.

         Plaintiff finally argues that many of Clark's conclusions or assumptions are mere speculation. The Court is satisfied that Clark provided sufficient foundation for the opinions in his report to clear the Daubert bar of reliability. Plaintiff is free to explore the basis for Clark's opinions on cross examination. Accordingly, Plaintiff's Motion to Exclude the Testimony of Marshal Clark is DENIED.

         II. Plaintiff's ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.