United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Shreveport Division
Judge KAREN L. HAYES
A. DOUGHTY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
here is Plaintiff David Franco39;s (“Franco”)
Motion in Limine to Prohibit Testimony and Opinions of
Defendants39; Accident Reconstructionist, William Miller
[Doc. No. 135]. Defendants have filed an opposition [Doc. No.
case arises out of a motor vehicle accident. On or about
November 24, 2015, Franco39;s vehicle was involved in a
collision with an 18-wheel truck owned by Defendant Mabe
Trucking Co., Inc., (“Mabe”) and being driven by
Defendant Richard Agee (“Agee”) on Interstate 20
in Louisiana shortly after crossing the border between Texas
and Louisiana. On November 22, 2016, Franco filed suit
against Mabe in the United States District Court for the
Eastern District of Texas, Marshall Division, alleging
diversity of citizenship jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. §
1332(a). On July 6, 2017, the suit was transferred to this
Court. On May 3, 2018, Franco filed a Supplemental and
Amended Complaint adding Agee and National Interstate
Insurance Company as defendants.
alleges that the accident was caused by the negligent
operation of the Mabe truck by Agee in pulling onto
Interstate 20 directly in front of him. Defendants contend
the accident was caused solely by the negligence of Franco in
not paying attention and rear-ending the Mabe truck. Thus,
one of the issues to be presented to the jury is fault.
Motion in Limine requests exclusion of the opinion testimony
of Defendants39; expert in accident reconstruction, William
Miller, on the basis that his expert opinions are irrelevant,
inadmissible, and lack generally accepted scientific basis.
Rule of Evidence 702 establishes the standards for
admissibility of expert testimony to assist a trier of fact
in understanding evidence or determining a fact in issue. In
determining whether expert testimony is reliable and
relevant, the district court39;s role in applying Rule 702
is that of a gatekeeper. See Daubert v. Merrell Dow
Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579, 597-598, 113 S.Ct.
2786, 125 L.Ed.2d 469 (1993). However, as gatekeeper, the
district court is not intended to replace the adversary
system: “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.” United States v.
14.38 Acres of Land, More or Less Situated in Lefore County,
Miss., 3d 1074');">80 F.3d 1074, 1078 (5th Cir. 1996)
(quoting Daubert, 509 U.S. at 596.
determining whether to allow expert opinion testimony, the
court must first decide whether the witness is qualified as
an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or
education. See Moore v. Ashland Chemical, Inc., 126
F.3d 679, 684 (5th Cir. 1997). A district court
should refuse to allow an expert witness to testify if it
finds that the witness is not qualified to testify in a
particular field or on a particular subject. Wilson v.
Woods, 3 F.3d 935');">163 F.3d 935 (5th Cir. 1999).
witness is qualified to testify, the court must then
determine whether the proffered testimony is both relevant
and reliable. “The expert testimony must be relevant,
not simply in the sense that all testimony must be relevant,
Federal Rule of Evidence 402, but also in the sense that the
expert39;s proposed opinion would assist the trier of fact
to understand or determine a fact in issue.”
Bocanegra v. Vicmar Services, Inc., 320 F.3d 581');">320 F.3d 581,
584 (5th Cir. 2003) (citing Daubert, 509
U.S. at 591-92).
reliability, Rule 702 only authorizes the admission of expert
testimony when “(1) the testimony is based upon
sufficient facts or data, (2) the testimony is the product of
reliable principles and methods, and (3) the witness has
applied the principles and methods reliably to the facts of
the case.” Fed.R.Evid. 702. Expert testimony requires
more than “subjective belief or unsupported
speculation.” Daubert, 509 U.S. at 590.
objects to Mr. Miller39;s testimony on three grounds: (1)
Mr. Miller did not perform a “lead vehicle
analysis;” (2) Mr. Miller39;s “context
clues” are irrelevant; and (3) Mr. Miller should not be
permitted to speculate as to the reason for Franco39;s
alleged distraction prior to impact.
contends that several studies have confirmed the difficulty
following drivers have in determining closing speeds and
responding to a slow-moving lead vehicle. He asserts that the
seminal paper on lead vehicle detection analysis is entitled,
“Relationship Between Relative Velocity Detection and
Driver Response Times in Vehicle Following Situations”
and authored by Jeffrey W. Muttart (the “Muttart
states that Dr. Muttart is an expert in accident
reconstruction and human factors, and his research and
methodologies are generally accepted in the field. Further,
according to Dr. Muttart, the generally accepted methodology
in reconstructing rear-end collisions is a lead vehicle
detection analysis. Therefore, Franko concludes that a
reconstructionist must perform a lead vehicle
asserts that Mr. Miller did not perform a lead vehicle
detection analysis, and, as such, Mr. Miller's
conclusions are based upon faulty methodologies and
unsupported assumptions, and this Court ...