Daubert Challenges to Experts in the Trucking Industry

At the 2012 TIDA Annual Conference, Thomas C. DiSalvi, Scott W. McMickle and Christopher M. Vossler presented an informative session on Daubert and its Effect on Trucking Experts.
Thanks again to the Trucking Industry Defense Association and all the committee members who did an excellent job of outlining topics and speakers helpful the industry. Thanks to David Sauvey, and other pioneers of the organization, who realized how important it is to share ideas with each other.
As always, if I can be of assistance to you in north Louisiana or northeast Texas, please don’t hesitate to call me day or night.

The following cases deal with Daubert Motions on Liability Experts pertaining to carrier selection and Equipment issues. Later, I will outline the Daubert motions pertaining the negligent hiring, police officer diagrams, safety history & ratings and toxicology. Later, I will post some key cases about Daubert motions of experts on damages.

Carrier Selection

Winford Dallas Jones v. C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc. Case No. 7:06CV00547 (W.D. Va. 2008). The Defendant moved in limine to exclude the Plaintiff’s expert, Thomas M. Corsi’s, testimony regarding carrier selection methods. This motion was granted and denied in part. Corsi was disallowed from making conclusions on carrier groups based on their SEA ratings or carrier selection practices due to his informal research performed before he was deposed. However, because of his experience with SafeStat, FMCSA data and tractor trailer accidents, he was permitted to testify on the meaning and reliability of safety information available to the industry in 2004.


Lenore Kabasinskas, Personal Representative of the Estate of Frederic D. Kabasinskas v. William R. Haskin, individually, George W. Wesley, III, individually, U.S. Xpress, Inc., a Tennessee corporation, and U.S. Xpress Leasing Inc., a Tennessee corporation  2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 57446, 2011 WL 2118641(D. Neb. 2011). The Defendants’ motion in limine to preclude three of the Plaintiff’s liability experts was granted. Proffered experts were disclosed to offer opinions on wheel lugs, pre-trip inspections and compliance with 49 C.F.R.§§ 392 and 396. The court ruled that these experts were not qualified to testify under Federal Rule 702.

Barbara Rose; Robert Rose v. Truck Centers, Inc., et al TRW Automotive, U.S., LLC, Case No. 09-3597. August 6, 2010. 388 Fed. Appx. 528, 2010 WL 3069613 (6th Cir. Ohio 2010). The Defendants moved to preclude the Plaintiff’s expert, who testified on the process of torquing steering gear bolts. He opined how failure to do so correctly could affect the integrity of the trucks steering. Although he was a qualified truck mechanic expert, his opinion as to how the accident occurred was not reliable under Federal Rule 702. The court granted the Defendants’ motion and entered summary judgment in their favor.

Larry D. Storie  v. Duckett Truck Center, Inc., St. Paul Mercury Insurance Co., and Blaine Lawson, Case No. 4:06CV1238 DDN. Dec. 14, 2007. 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 92083, 2007 WL 4454297 (E.D. Mo. 2007). The Defendants moved to strike the Plaintiff’s expert, Robert Carmon, who rendered opinions to be used at trial. Carmon stated that the anti-lock braking system (“ABS”) did not work properly as the light indicator intermittently came on for Plaintiff/driver. The Defendants argued that, during his inspection, Carmon never saw the light come on. Secondly, he never examined the vehicle’s ABS to establish whether the problem was with the ABS system or the wiring to the dashboard. The Court granted the Defendants’ motion and precluded Carmon from testifying in regard to the ABS.

Shirley Johnson, as Legal Guardian of Michael Gilfeather, an Incapacitated Adult v. Manitowoc Boom Trucks, Inc., Case No. 06-5145. April 30, 2007. 484 F.3d 426 (6th Cir. 2007).  The Appellate court affirmed the exclusion of the Plaintiff’s engineering expert, Gary Friend. Friend opined that the crane’s design was defective because it did not have electronically linked outriggers that would prohibit the crane from operating unless all four outriggers were in place. He believed that outriggers from a smaller vehicle could be placed on the Manitowoc truck, but did not perform testing to support his opinion. He did not have expertise pertaining to truck outriggers and cranes, only general engineering experience. Therefore, it could be said that Friend prepared such opinion in context of the case.

David Oddi; Erin Oddi v. Ford Motor Company; Grumman Allied Industries Inc.; Grumman Olson Bodies, Inc. Olson Bodies, Inc., v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Transportation Case No. 99-3406. Oct. 13, 2000. 234 F.3d 136 (3rd Cir. 2000). The Appellate court affirmed the District court’s ruling, in which the Plaintiff’s engineering expert was precluded from testifying and subsequent summary judgment was entered in FMC’s favor. The Plaintiff’s expert opined that the cab design was defective and caused the Plaintiff’s injuries. This opinion was solely based on his training and experience as an engineer. He did not perform testing to support his opinion or consider other possible alternatives of causation.

James McAlonan v. Mildred F. Tracy, Toyota Motor Corporation and Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.,N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 588 (App.Div. 2010). The Plaintiff appealed, claiming that the trial judge erred in judgment by allowing expert testimony regarding contradictory information obtained from the event data recorder (“EDR”) in Plaintiff’s vehicle. The Defendant’s expert was able to testify that the data from the EDR was unreliable as the read out tool was a prototype, and could not be relied upon to print accurate data.


Be on the lookout for future blog posts that will continue to focus on defending the trucking industry. We will continue to address the unique issues for lawyers who take on the task to protect this important industry, such as CSA, hiring, expert witnesses and even the practical issues of preparing witnesses for depositions.

If this blogpost is helpful, I hope you will become a follower, or at least, sign up by e-mail as you some future post may be applicable to an issue you are facing.

I will continue on this topic for a few more weeks and then go back to sharing some practical ideas of deposition and trial testimony.

* Mr. Vossler was graduated from Boston College (B.A., cum laude, 1982). Immediately following his undergraduate studies, Mr. Vossler earned a law degree from the Quinnipiac School of Law (J.D. 1985).

Mr. Vossler has handled many cases to verdict, and through the appellate courts, since being admitted to practice in 1985. He has a diversified practice both before the Connecticut trial courts and  appellate courts. Over the last 26 years, Mr. Vossler has been successful in obtaining favorable rulings in a number of cases that resulted in cutting edge decisions related to product liability, insurance law, sports and recreation. His clients include insurers, product manufacturers, trucking companies, commercial retailers and restaurants, athletic clubs and teams as well as private and municipal entities.  Mr. Vossler is admitted to practice in the following jurisdictions: • State of Connecticut • State of New York • State of Massachusetts  • United States District Court, District of Connecticut  • United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

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