A federal appellate court recently issued an opinion in a personal injury case that was appealed by a plaintiff after the district court excluded the plaintiff’s expert witness testimony. The case is important for New Mexico personal injury plaintiffs, because the Daubert standard employed by the court in this case is the same standard that is used in New Mexico personal injury cases.
The Facts of the Case
The case stems from a 2013 accident in which a young woman and her infant son were involved in a crash with a tractor-trailer that was manufactured by the defendant. The plaintiff sustained severe debilitating brain injuries as a result of the accident and filed a product liability lawsuit against the defendant. The police report indicated that the tractor-trailer was turning on the highway when the woman struck the left side of the trailer. The trailer did not have a side underride guard.
The Case’s Procedural History
The woman’s legal guardian and the infant’s legal guardian filed a lawsuit that was ultimately moved to federal court. Several of the claims were resolved, leaving only a products liability claim against the manufacturer of the trailer. The claim that they were basing their lawsuit on was “crashworthiness” of the trailer. Specifically, that the design of the underride guard installed on the truck was defective, and that there was an alternative design that would have likely prevented the plaintiff’s injuries.