Court excludes expert witness testimony for plaintiff in lawsuit against God Way's Trucking

By Shanice Harris | May 15, 2019

NEW ORLEANS – The U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of Louisiana is not allowing God Way’s Trucking company’s witness testimony to be presented in its case against Kierra Thomas, et al, according to an order filed April 17.  

Thomas was granted permission by the court to have the testimony of her expert witness, Dr. Torrence Welch, admitted at trial. The court also ruled that God’s Way is entitled to summary judgment on the plaintiff's negligence claims against the trucking company.

This case stems from the events in Orleans Paris In April 2017. Thomas was driving her vehicle on Interstate 10 in the right lane, with Antoine Clark and Shirley Harris as passengers. The defendant, Randall Chambers, was driving a tractor-trailer owned by God’s Way Trucking in the middle lane next to Thomas. He was an employee of the company. 

The plaintiff alleges that Chambers tried to move into the right lane without checking for cars, causing the tractor-trailer to strike the plaintiff’s car. The plaintiff alleges the car shook violently, which caused injury to all three passengers' necks and backs. All three passengers in the vehicle received medical treatment for their injuries. 

The plaintiff soon filed a lawsuit against Chambers, God’s Way Trucking and Canal Insurance Co. She alleged that Chambers' negligence caused the three passengers' injuries, and God’s Way was responsible because Chambers was one of their employees. Canal insured the vehicle on the day of the accident. 

According to court documents, “Defendants move to exclude plaintiffs’ accident reconstruction expert, James Pittman. God’s Way also moves for partial summary judgment on plaintiffs’ direct negligence claims.”

The court decided to exclude James Pittman’s testimony because the information he provided “is not an admissible expert opinion because it requires no expertise and relates to issues that are within the common knowledge of a lay juror,” according to the court order. “Unlike Dr. Welch, Pittman does not employ any type of specialized knowledge, and he did no scientific or specialized analysis to come to a conclusion about the type of collision that the parties experienced.”

Welch’s testimony was allowed in court because of his expertise in both biomechanical engineering and vehicle accident reconstruction. He describes the accident as a “side-swipe” and states that this type of collision would cause minor shaking and motion. His statements on how this type of accident would typically affect the human body are also allowed.

“God’s Way’s motion for partial summary judgment on plaintiffs’ claims for negligent entrustment and negligent hiring, training and supervising is also granted,” according to court documents.

The order is signed by United States District Judge Sarah Vance.

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