Citing unreliability, court excludes expert’s testimony on Lafayette seaman’s work-life expectancy

By Amanda Thomas | Apr 29, 2018

NEW ORLEANS – An expert’s testimony on the work-life expectancy of a Lafayette seaman injured in a workplace accident will be excluded in a case set to go to trial May 14 after a federal judge determined it is unreliable.

In an April 23 ruling, U.S. District Judge Sarah S. Vance granted defendant Hunter Marine’s motions in limine and excluded the testimony of vocational rehabilitation expert Glenn M. Herbert as it relates to plaintiff Kenneth Cole’s reduced work-life expectancy. Vance also excluded the testimony of economic expert Dr. G. Randolph Rice “to the extent that it relies on Herbert’s work-life expectancy estimate.”

The case stems from a March 16, 2016, accident involving Marine’s vessel, M/V Miss Mona, which struck a submerged island. Noel, a seaman with Inland Dredging Company LLC, was a passenger when the crew boat ran aground. Noel stated that he was thrown forward by the impact, and other men fell on top of him. He claims that he suffered serious injuries to his lower back as a result of the accident. 

In March 2017, Noel filed a lawsuit in the Eastern District of Louisiana requesting damages against Hunter Marine and Inland Dredging, saying his injuries were caused by their “negligence and/or the unseaworthiness of the vessel.” He seeks relief for “past and future wage loss, medical expenses, pain and suffering, maintenance and cure, and other damages.” 

Marine moved to exclude Hebert’s testimony, saying his opinions on Cole’s “work-life expectancy and future economic loss are unreliable.” 

In his expert report, Herbert said Cole’s “disability can be expected to reduce his labor force participation” by 10 to 12 years. His opinion relied on the Gamboa Gibson Worklife Tables, which the court noted “appear to calculate average work-life expectancies for broad categories of disabled, severely disabled, and non-disabled individuals.” 

“Accordingly, the court finds that Herbert’s opinion as to plaintiff’s reduced work-life expectancy is unreliable, and thus inadmissible.” 

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