United States District Court, D. Maine
ACADIA INSURANCE COMPANY, as subrogee of ELDREDGE LUMBER AND HARDWARE, INC., Plaintiff.
FLUID MANAGEMENT, INC., Defendant.
ORDER DENYING MOTION TO EXCLUDE PLAINTIFF'S
A. WOODCOCK, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Court denies a motion to exclude an expert witness. The Court
concludes that the objection to a portion of the expert's
proposed testimony is an objection to the probative value of
the evidence underlying his opinion, which is a matter for
jury resolution, and the Court finds that the remaining
portion of the objected to expert testimony would be helpful
to the trier of fact.
parties are now satisfied that a plastic wire nut caused a
paint mixer to catch fire and burn down a hardware store.
Acadia Insurance Company, the hardware store's insurer,
is proceeding against Fluid Management, Inc. (FMI), the
seller and servicer of the Accutinter paint mixing machine,
on the grounds that FMI either improperly installed the wire
nut or failed to notice the wire nut during its servicing of
the machine. Pl.'s First Am. Compl. (ECF No.
listed John J. Mulcahy, a professional engineer, as an expert
witness. Mr. Mulcahy issued an amended expert report on
October 30, 2015, in which he expressed the opinion that
“the most likely cause of ignition causing electrical
beading and the fire in the paint machine” was an
“irregular wire nut connection.” Pl.'s
Resp. in Opp'n to Def.'s Mot. to Exclude the Test. of
John Mulcahy, Attach. 5, Addendum 1, Expert Report
of John J. Mulcahy, P.E. at 3 (ECF No. 75). Mr. Mulcahy
also opined that the irregular wire nut connection was not
part of the factory installation, and he excluded the
designer and manufacturer of the paint machine as being
responsible for the fire. Id. Noting that the wire
nut was located “in the middle span of the wires that
went to the stir motors, ” he wrote that “[t]he
presence of the wire nut in this location indicates that this
was an improper modification or repair to the paint machine
wiring.” Id. at 4.
March 16, 2016, FMI moved to exclude Mr. Mulcahy as an expert
witness. Mot. to Exclude Test. of Pl.'s Expert John
Mulcahy (ECF No. 73) (Def.'s Mot.). Citing
Mr. Mulcahy's deposition testimony, FMI notes that Mr.
Mulcahy admitted that he “was unable to determine when
the wire nut was installed, by whom it was installed, whether
it was present when FMI or its agents performed maintenance
on the machine and that he lacked the expertise to say
whether or not a technician would have been able to even see
the wire nut or touch it while doing the preventive
maintenance.” Id. at 2 (citing Attach. 1,
Dep. of John J. Mulcahy, P.E. 29:12-30:25,
40:12-41:5) (Mulcahy Dep. I). Based on these
concessions, FMI contends that Mr. Mulcahy's expert
opinions are speculative and should be
responded on April 6, 2016. Pl.'s Resp. in Opp'n
to Def.'s Mot. to Exclude the Test. of John Mulcahy
(ECF No. 75) (Pl.'s Opp'n). Acadia first
contends that Mr. Mulcahy had a factual basis to conclude
that FMI was responsible for servicing the paint mixer.
Id. at 3-4. Acadia then pointed out that Mr. Mulcahy
testified that there would have been no reason to place the
wire nut in the location where it was found in the paint
mixer. Id. (citing Attach. 7, Dep. of John J.
Mulcahy, P.E. 60:15- 18). Acadia also attached a portion
of Mr. Mulcahy's deposition testimony in which he
reviewed the contents of the preventative maintenance manual
and agreed that in following the preventative maintenance
requirements, a service technician would be required to check
the machine's circuits and would have to remove the back
of the paint mixer and access various areas of the machine to
do so. Id. 61:23-63:23.
replied on April 20, 2016. Def.'s Reply Mem. in Supp.
of Mot. to Exclude Test. of John Mulcahy (ECF No. 76).
After reiterating its previous arguments, FMI notes that Mr.
Mulcahy had stated he had “no way of knowing whether
the wire nut was present in the Accutinter at any time that
FMI was doing maintenance on it.” Id. at 2.
Furthermore, FMI argues that Mr. Mulcahy conceded that
“he does not have any expertise regarding maintenance
of an Accutinter or whether a technician would have seen the
wire nut while doing routine maintenance.” Id.
Federal Rule of Evidence 702, a witness who is qualified as
an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or
education may testify in the form of an opinion or otherwise
if (a) the expert's scientific, technical, or other
specialized knowledge will help the trier of fact to
understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue, (b)
the testimony is based on sufficient facts or data, (c) the
testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods,
and (d) the expert has reliably applied the principles and
methods to the facts of the case. Fed.R.Evid. 702. FMI
focuses on two issues: first, whether Mr. Mulcahy has
sufficient facts to express his opinions, Rule ...