United States District Court, D. Maryland
Stephanie A. Gallagher United States Magistrate Judge
a workplace accident involving a tool cart, Plaintiffs Lou
Montgomery and Melissa Montgomery filed this lawsuit against
the cart's manufacturer, Jamco Products, Inc.
(“Jamco”), and Mr. Montgomery's employer, CSX
Transportation, Inc. (“CSXT”). Now pending is
Defendant CSXT's Motion to Exclude Expert Testimony and
Motion for Summary Judgment [ECF No. 120]. I have considered
that motion, the materials submitted relating thereto, and
the oral arguments presented at a hearing on January 11,
2017. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md.
2016). For the reasons set forth below, CSXT's motion
will be granted.
October 5, 2013, Mr. Montgomery was working as a machinist
for CSXT in its shop in Cumberland, Maryland
(“Cumberland shop”). Montgomery Dep., 43:6-12.
Mr. Montgomery had been employed as a CSXT machinist for
approximately nine years. Id. at 33:4-6. During all
nine years, various tool carts were used by the machinists in
the Cumberland shop. Id. at 166:2-4. The tool carts
were not all identical. Id. at 71:2-8.
date of the accident, Mr. Montgomery was assigned to repair a
diesel locomotive. Id. 77:18-78:16. In order to
transport his tools to the locomotive, Mr. Montgomery found a
tool cart and pushed it approximately 70 yards to the tool
room. He placed a fuel injector on top of the cart and then
pushed the tool cart another 100 yards or so to his tool
locker. He went into his tool locker, retrieved a small black
toolbox weighing 10 or 15 pounds, and placed it on the cart.
He then went to pick up a second toolbox weighing
approximately 70 to 75 pounds and set in on the cart but,
when he did, the cart broke. Mr. Montgomery was jerked
forward from the weight of the toolbox, and severely injured
his back. Id. at 79:15-90:12, 91:20-24.
safety rules require employees to inspect all tools and
equipment for unsafe conditions before use. Id. at
87:21-24, 153:5-19. Mr. Montgomery looked at the cart before
using it “and it appeared to be fine.”
Id. at 87:8-89:10. He did not notice any cracks on
the cart. Id.
CSXT employee, Mike Kennell, worked as a boilermaker in the
Cumberland shop. Kennell Dep. 7:1-4. Kennell testified that
he recalled making repairs to some tool carts prior to Mr.
Montgomery's accident, but he could not recall how many
carts he had repaired, when the repairs were made, or whether
the carts he repaired were Jamco carts. Id. at
14:21-16:9, 20:12-15. At the time of the accident, the
original welds on the tool cart used by Mr. Montgomery had
not been altered or repaired. Clauser Dep. 57:18-58:6.
Montgomery and his wife filed the instant lawsuit against the
manufacturer of the cart, Jamco, under a theory of
manufacturing defect, and against CSXT, alleging negligence
in violation of the Federal Employers' Liability Act
(“FELA”), 45 U.S.C. §§ 51, et seq.
See [ECF Nos. 1 and 60]. Specifically, Plaintiffs
allege that CSXT failed to provide Mr. Montgomery a
reasonably safe place to work. See [ECF No. 60];
Pls.' Opp., [ECF No. 122 at 17-20].
now seeks to exclude the testimony of Plaintiffs'
liability expert pursuant to Rule 702 of the Federal Rules of
Evidence, and seeks summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56 of
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
have retained Craig Clauser, P.E., as their liability expert.
By Plaintiffs' description, Mr. Clauser is “an
expert metallurgist with a secondary expertise in industrial
safety and quality control.” Pls.' Opp., [ECF No.
122 at 7].
to Plaintiffs' claim, this Court has not previously ruled
that Mr. Clauser's opinion meets all requirements of
Federal Rules of Evidence 702 and 703. Id. at 1.
Rather, the Court's prior inquiry was limited to
determining whether Mr. Clauser's expert reports and
testimony violated 1) the timely disclosure requirement of
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(a)(2) and 2) the
reliability requirement of Federal Rules of Evidence 702 and
703. Montgomery v. CSX Transp., Inc., 2016
WL 5390809 (D. Md. Sept. 27, 2016) (denying CSXT's motion
to strike Mr. Clauser's opinion on the above-stated
bases). The instant motion challenges Mr. Clauser's
qualifications as an expert and the foundational basis of his
opinion as to CSXT's liability.
witness may be qualified as an expert “by knowledge,
skill, experience, training, or education.” Fed.R.Evid.
702. Expert testimony is admissible if it will assist the
trier of fact, and: (1) is “based on sufficient facts
or data;” (2) is “the product of reliable
principles and methods;” and (3) the principles and
methods have been applied “reliably...to the facts of
the case.” Id. The expert testimony also must
rest on a reliable foundation and must be relevant.
Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharm., 509 U.S. 579, 589
(1993); see also Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael, 526
U.S. 137 (1999) (extending Daubert to “the
testimony of...other experts who are not scientists”).
Where experiential expert testimony “does not rely on
anything like a scientific method, ” it is nevertheless
admissible “so long as an experiential witness
‘explain[s] how [his] experience leads to the
conclusion reached, why [his] experience is a sufficient
basis for the opinion, and how [his] experience is reliably
applied to the facts.'” United States v.
Bynum, 604 F.3d 161, 167 (4th Cir. 2010) (alterations in
original) (citations omitted).
Court's inquiry into the reliability of an expert's
testimony is “flexible, ” and focuses on
“the principles and methodology employed by the
expert.” Daubert, 509 U.S. at 594-95.
Holesapple v. Barrett, 5 F. App'x 177, 179 (4th
Cir. 2001). In determining whether proffered testimony is
sufficiently reliable, “the court has broad latitude to
consider whatever factors bearing on validity the court finds
to be useful; the particular factors will depend on the
unique circumstances of the expert testimony involved.”
Id. Neither Daubert nor the Federal Rules
of Evidence obligate a trial court “to admit opinion
evidence that is [based merely on] the ipse dixit of the
expert.” Gen. Elec. Co. v. Joiner, 522 U.S.
136, 146 (1997). Rather, “[r]eliability is to be
determined by the ‘principles and methodology'
employed by the expert.” Holesapple v.
Barrett, 5 F. App'x 177, 179 (4th Cir. 2001).
Indeed, “[t]he Court must exclude expert testimony if
it is so fundamentally unreliable that it can offer no
assistance to the jury.” Goyal v. Thermage,
Inc., 2011 WL 691185, at *3 n.8 (D. Md. Feb. 18, 2011)
(quoting Meterlogic, Inc. v. KLT, Inc., 368 F.3d
1017, 1019 (8th Cir. 2004)).