Accident Reconstruction Expert’s Opinion on Driver’s Habits at Issue in Florida Case

Expertise Description

An overturned truck on an highway in an accident.A former employee of the City of Tampa filed an action for unlawful retaliation in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") and the Florida Civil Rights Act ("FCRA").Plaintiff was employed as a City Solid Waste Collection Driver. At some time during his employment, he was diagnosed with a medical condition that allegedly limited one or more of his major life activities. He filed a Charge of Discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), asserting that the City failed to reasonably accommodate his disability. He then filed, pro se, a lawsuit under the ADA for disability discrimination against the City. Plaintiff was still employed by the City when he filed his pro se lawsuit.During the ADA lawsuit against the City, Plaintiff was involved in an accident involving the City's solid waste truck. While waiting to unload debris at a transfer station, Plaintiff exited the truck. He thought he had pulled the parking brake prior to getting out of the truck. However, while he was out of the vehicle, it began moving forward, went over a speed bump, and struck the vehicle causing damages. There were no injuries.The City ultimately concluded that Plaintiff hadn’t set the brake and issued a "Letter of Counseling" related to the incident because the accident was preventable. The City relied on the recommendation from its safety review committee, which concluded that Plaintiff hadn’t pulled the parking brake, as well as a traffic report and statements from a mechanic who inspected the vehicle after the accident.Plaintiff took the deposition of the City's Solid Waste Director as part of his pro se lawsuit against the City, which was still pending. The complaint alleged that within a month of his deposition, Plaintiff was given a notice of disciplinary action, accusing him of making false statements, and thus violating the City's policy on "Moral Turpitude."At a hearing, the City showed video footage of the accident, which revealed Plaintiff exiting the vehicle without setting the parking brake. Based on the video, the City terminated Plaintiff's employment for intentionally lying to the police and the City when he repeatedly maintained throughout the investigation and grievance process that he had pulled the parking brake.Plaintiff alleged that the City's stated reason for terminating his employment was "not worthy of belief." His retaliation claims were premised on the timing of Director’s deposition and Plaintiff's termination. According to Plaintiff, these two events were causally related. However, Plaintiff then admitted that he didn’t pull the parking brake. Plaintiff argued that the real reason he was terminated was that he pursued the initial discrimination case against the City.The City designated a mechanical engineer specializing in accident reconstruction as an expert witness. The expert opined that the driver of the City’s solid waste truck didn’t engage the parking brake prior to exiting the vehicle at the time of the accident. In addition, the expert said that the driver failed to put the truck in neutral and didn’t follow proper procedures.The accident reconstruction expert also concluded that the driver had a habit of not parking the vehicle properly prior to exiting because he’d done the same thing five minutes before the accident; that he knew, or should have known, that he left the vehicle in drive as he must have put it in neutral after the accident when he engaged the parking brake; and that he knew, or should have known, that he didn’t put the parking brake on since he engaged the parking brake immediately after the accident.Plaintiff moved to strike the expert’s report in its entirety. He argued that the expert improperly opined on Plaintiff's credibility; he didn’t have the adequate expertise to testify about Plaintiff's "habit" or what Plaintiff "knew or should have known;" and the expert’s testimony as to the causation of Plaintiff's accident wouldn’t assist the trier of fact.U.S. District Court Judge James S. Moody Jr. wrote in his decision that before permitting expert opinion testimony, the court must make certain that the expert employs "in the courtroom the same level of intellectual rigor that characterizes the practice of the expert in the field," quoting Kumho Tire Co.The judge found that the expert's opinion must be excluded under Daubert because portions of his report were based on pure speculation. More importantly, the entire report would not assist the trier of fact. The expert, who was experienced in mechanical engineering and accident reconstruction, wasn’t qualified to testify about Plaintiff's "habit" and state of mind. His opinions weren’t based on sufficient facts or data. Moreover, Judge Moody said that no expert is truly qualified to opine on a person's credibility or state of mind—determinations typically left to the finder of fact.The expert testimony, like the expert's report, wouldn’t assist the trier of fact because Plaintiff admitted that he failed to set the parking brake. The part of the expert's report where he opined that Plaintiff didn’t engage the parking brake, didn’t put the vehicle in neutral, and didn’t follow proper procedure was superfluous because Plaintiff conceded these points.The expert's opinion, which focused on the reasonableness of Plaintiff's actions—and which was clearly not available to the City at the time that it made the decision to terminate Plaintiff—would offer no assistance to the trier of fact. Plaintiff's motion to strike Defendant's expert witness and his expert report was granted. 

Commercial Trucking Expert Witness 530102

Expertise Description

I have over 35 years experience in commercial driving with expertise in Class A & B vehicles, flat bed doubles, forklifts & loaders, and hazardous waste transport. I have additional experience as a commercial driving instructor and have established commercial driver training and safety programs. I have spent more than 25 years offering consultations, deposition, and courtroom testimony as a commercial trucking expert witness.

Trucking Expert 515403

Expertise Description

For over 35 years, I have worked in the field of trucking with extensive experience in the industry from the operations side, legal, regulatory, and legislative. I have additional experience in monitoring all relevant state and federal legislation and regulatory actions with potential impact on members. I also have experience with developing and writing association responses, working with the Executive Directors and Executive Committees, and testifying on behalf of associations before state and federal legislative and/or regulatory bodies. I have provided my services as a trucking expert witness in Southern California.

Car Rental Expert Witness 519464

Expertise Description

As a car rental expert witness with more than 35 years in the industry, my expertise has been focused on the standards of the car rental industry in regards to: vehicle maintenance; requirements of maintaining a fleet of rental vehicles; rental car staffs that included car wash attendants, drivers, customer service representatives, assistant managers, and salespeople; employee hiring, training, and supervision; as well as accounting practices and security measures. I have additional knowledge in unauthorized drivers, keys left unprotected, undercarriage damage inspection and industry standards for car preparation, validity of foreign driver’s licenses, and standard for safety in trucks with cabs over engines. I have been providing services as a car rental witness for over 5 years.

Safety Management Expert 507670

Expertise Description

I have more than 30 years experience in the Transportation industry with expertise in Motorcoach and Bus Operations. My experience includes the safe operation of bus transit as well as, motorcoaches, transportation of passengers, and vehicle inspection for daily reports and logs. I also have experience with the oversight of corporate safety management controls pertaining to the operation of vehicles and worker safety and health. I provide initial and on-going safety training for employees, and investigate accidents, both vehicular and worker injury. I have prior expert witness experience with consultation, deposition, and courtroom testimony.

Trucking 51300

Expertise Description

I have more than 35 years experience in trucking. My expertise includes analysis and investigation of accidents involving heavy vehicles (trucks, buses, tankers, and local delivery vehicles). I have additional expertise in truck operation, hazardous materials transportation, flammable liquids, the Smith System, Department of Transportation regulations and code compliance, and vehicle maintenance issues. My experience includes general trucking, hazmat transportation, flammable tank truck driving, pressurized industrial gas transport, and heavy truck maintenance and repair. I am familiar with different trucking equipment such as flat beds, tanker trucks, doubles, etc. I have over 10 years expert witness experience.

Industrial Workplace Safety 46349

Expertise Description

I have over 15 years experience in areas of industrial workplace safety and training, especially in mining, tunneling, construction, and explosives. I have experience in trucks and trucking, including general maintenance and air brakes; surface and underground mining; tunneling; construction; general safety; and Cal/OSHA. I have conducted safety training in all phases of mining for employers, employees, and contractors in the mining and tunneling industries, and safety training in explosives, tire, welding, and other associated industries. I have administered examinations for blasting, gas quality testing, explosion cause and origin, and safety representative licenses in the mining and construction industries. I have more than 5 years expert witness experience.

43022

Expertise Description

Ph.D., P.E. – Licensed Mechanical Engineer. Experienced in accident investigations and reconstruction, as well as, human factors and biomechanics. Machine design, consumer products, fire cause and origin. Licensed pilot with IFR rating; can provide aerial photography. Licensed commercial driver with tanker, hazardous materials, and passenger endorsements.

Transportation 500242

Expertise Description

I have more than 25 years experience in the field of Transportation with expertise in directing transportation and workplace safety. I have experience with accident analysis, regulatory compliance, personnel management, loss control, risk management, claims, and employee and facility security. I have additional knowledge of directing crash and injury investigation and cause analysis, compliance oversight and consultation, driver retention, maintenance compliance, and driver benefits. I have prior expert witness experience with consultations, deposition, and courtroom testimony.

Commercial Vehicles 361773

Expertise Description

I have more than 45 years experience in Commercial Vehicles. My areas of expertise include Commercial Vehicles, Commercial driver’s license qualifications, Driver’s license endorsements, Hours of Service – Intrastate and Interstate, Commercial vehicle maintenance requirements and records, Commercial driver training and records, On highway commercial vehicle enforcement, Commercial vehicle weight enforcement, Commercial vehicle size requirements, brake design, and Commercial vehicle air brake requirements. I have prior expert witness experience.

Commercial Driving 460807

Expertise Description

I have more than 35 years experience in the field of Trucking and Safety with expertise in professional driving issues, which include truck driver actions, reactions, responsibilities, qualifications, training, compliance, and safety. I have additional experience with motor carrier safety and regulatory compliance; federal motor carrier safety regulations, and have assisted transportation companies with safety issues and training.

Road Safety 460806

Expertise Description

I have more than 45 years experience in the field of Trucking and Motor Safety with expertise in professional driving issues: truck driver actions, reactions, responsibilities, qualifications, training, compliance, and safety. I have additional experience with the operation and maintenance of tractor-trailer brake systems; loading and unloading issues, accident analysis, and related heavy equipment.

Department Of Transportation 453819

Expertise Description

I have more than 30 years in the field of Highway Transportation with expertise in Department of Transportation D.O.T. (truck & buses) regulations, safety consulting, HAZMAT, logbooks (hours of service), FMCSA regulations, driver qualifications, fleet maintenance, truck operation, hazardous materials, and The Smith System. I have additional knowledge in the construction, construction equipment, and trucking industry maintaining or operating heavy equipment & tow trucks, tractor-trailers and automobiles.