Federal Judge Discusses Expert Testimony Requirements in Fatal New Mexico Truck Collision Lawsuit

file311277498611 morguefile username Alvimann.jpgThe United States District Court for the District of New Mexico has held that certain portions of expert testimony must be excluded in a lawsuit that was filed following a fatal semi-truck crash. In Tom v. SB, Inc., et. al, the estate of a man killed in a truck accident, Sam Tom, filed a lawsuit against the big rig driver who struck his vehicle and the trucking company that employed him. In the lawsuit, the plaintiff filed a motion for a Daubert hearing and a motion in limine to exclude certain testimony offered by the defendants’ expert witness, Ron Feder. The driver of the big rig also filed a motion in limine to exclude certain evidence offered by the plaintiff’s expert witness, Alan Asay.

A Daubert hearing is an evaluation that is performed by a trial judge to determine whether certain evidence is admissible in a federal lawsuit. The standard for admissibility is outlined in Rule 702 of the Federal Rules of Evidence. Following a Daubert hearing, a party will normally file a motion in limine to exclude certain unqualified evidence.

First, the New Mexico court discussed the appropriate standard of review regarding the proposed testimony of each party’s expert witness. According to the court, the expert’s “scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge” must be sufficient to aid the jury in determining issues of fact, the opinion must be based upon sufficient information, the opinion must be based upon reliable and accepted methods, and the methods must be applied to the facts of the case in a reliable manner.

Next, the trial court discussed whether to exclude the uncontested testimony of a trucking safety expert. The New Mexico court held that the expert failed to establish that he had a sufficient foundation on which to determine the cause of the deadly truck accident. The expert was, however, allowed to offer testimony that the collision was preventable, the semi-truck driver reacted too slowly, and the accident could have been avoided if Ruff maintained his lane.

Next, the court addressed the testimony offered by Asay. According to the court, Asay was not qualified to discuss Tom’s driving decisions prior to the crash or how a properly trained driver would have reacted. Asay was allowed to testify regarding his opinion that Ruff wasted valuable reaction time, fatigue may have caused the waste, and the big rig’s speed could have contributed to the wreck.

Finally, the court ruled that Feder was not qualified to offer expert testimony that Ruff’s evasive maneuver attempt was the only reasonable reaction a driver in his position could have made. The judge stated the expert could tell jurors his opinion regarding the events which led up to the crash and testify that veering to the left, as Ruff did, was a natural reaction.

As this case demonstrates, New Mexico truck accidents often involve unique and complicated evidence. If you were hurt or a loved one was killed by a negligent big rig operator, a skilled New Mexico semi-truck collision attorney can help.

Contact the Fine Law Firm if you were hurt or a loved one was killed in an accident that was caused by the driver of an 18-wheeler anywhere in the State of New Mexico. Our caring Albuquerque truck accident attorneys have more than 100 years of combined experience helping the victims of semi-truck wrecks across our state recover the financial compensation they deserve based upon the severity of their injuries. To schedule a free, confidential case evaluation with a hardworking advocate, please give the Fine Law Firm a call at (505) 889-3463 or contact us through our website.

More Blog Posts:

New Mexico Federal Court Discusses Duty Truckers Owe to Other Drivers in Truck Accident Lawsuit, New Mexico Truck Accident Lawyer Blog, December 26, 2013
Record Jury Verdict Should Prompt Negligent Semi-Truck Drivers in New Mexico and Elsewhere to Exercise More Care on the Road, New Mexico Truck Accident Lawyer Blog, December 19, 2013
Photo credit: Alvimann, morgueFile