Monday, August 23, 2021

Defendant's Challenge to Qualifications of Expert Rejected


In the case of Miller v. BGHA, Inc., No. 19-1293 (E.D. Pa. June 30, 2021 Bartley, J.), the court denied a Defendant’s Motion to Bar a Plaintiff’s Expert from Testifying in the case arising from the Plaintiff’s fall from a hunting tree stand. Rather, the court found that the Plaintiff’s mechanical engineering expert was qualified to testify.

According to the Opinion, in this case involving a fall from a tree stand, the Plaintiffs offered a mechanical engineer who had worked in the power plant industry as their expert witness. This expert inspected the tree stand and its dissembled ladder sections and reviewed photographs of the tree as well as the instruction manuals and produce details for other models of tree stands.

The Defendants asserted that the expert did not qualify as an expert in this case because he did not have any experience with tree stand products or consumer products and had never before analyzed a similar product.

The Plaintiff argued that the expert was qualified generally as a mechanical engineer who spent much of his career evaluating equipment safety and safety processes.

In the end, the court found that the expert was qualified by his education, training, and lengthy work history to testify as to product design and safety in this matter. The court found that the expert had specialized expertise and training that would allow him to help the jury to understand the design of the stand.

The court additionally noted that the expert did not have to be a human factors or warning expert to testify how the instructions and warnings affected the engineering forces in assembling the stand.

In terms of the expert’s Opinion, the court found that the expert had offered his opinions from an engineering perspective on the design and safety aspects of the stand based upon principles common in engineering such that the expert’s testimony was reliable. The court noted that the fact that the Defendants disputed the expert’s conclusions regarding the strength and the design of the tree stand did not alter the conclusion that the expert’s opinion was reliable since the expert’s analysis did not have to be correct or without flaw in order to be admitted.

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this decision may click this LINK.  The companion Order can be viewed HERE.


Source: “Digest of Recent Opinions.” Pennsylvania Law Weekly (July 22, 2021).

Source of image: Photo by Laura College on unsplash.com.

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