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Wyman v. Yates American Machine Co.

United States District Court, D. Maine

October 31, 2016

TERRANCE WYMAN, Plaintiff,
v.
YATES-AMERICAN MACHINE COMPANY, and/or YATES-AMERICAN MACHINE CO., INC.. AND DK-SPEC INC. d/b/a GUÉRETTE, INDUSTRIE GUÉRETTE, INDUSTRIE GUÉRETTE (DIVISION DE DK-SPEC INC. and/orINDUSTRIE GUÉRETTE INC. d/b/a QUEBEC INC., Defendants.

          ORDER ON DAUBERT MOTION TO EXCLUDE EXPERT TESTIMONY

          JOHN A. WOODCOCK, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         In this personal injury and product liability action, Yates-American Machine Company filed a Daubert motion seeking to exclude the proposed testimony of Plaintiff's experts. The Court denies the motion, concluding that any inadequacies in the experts' proposed testimony do not require wholesale exclusion and are best tested through the traditional tools of trial work: “[v]igorous cross-examination, presentation of contrary evidence, and careful instruction on the burden of proof.” Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharms., Inc., 509 U.S. 579, 596 (1993).

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Procedural History

         On May 14, 2013, Terrance Wyman filed a complaint against Yates-American Machine Company (Yates-American) and DK-Spec Inc. in the Somerset County Superior Court alleging one count of negligence and one count of strict liability against each of the Defendants. Notice of Removal Attach. 1 Compl. (ECF No. 1) (Compl.). On August 6, 2013, Yates-American removed the case to federal court. Id. On July 14, 2015, the Court held a Rule 56 Pre-Filing Conference and ordered Yates-American to notify the Court if a Daubert hearing was necessary. Min. Entry (ECF No. 85).

         On July 31, 2015, Yates-American requested a Daubert hearing on Mr. Wyman's experts, Paul Cyr and John Orlowski. Yates-American's Letter Req. for Daubert Hr'g (ECF No. 88).[1] On October 15, 2015, at the Court's request, Yates-American summarized its preliminary objections to the proposed testimony of Mr. Orlowski and Mr. Cyr. Yates American Machine Co. Inc.'s Prelim. Daubert Objs. to the Proposed Test. of John Orlowski and Paul Cyr (ECF No. 104) (Def.'s Prelim. Objs.). Mr. Wyman responded to the preliminary objections on October 23, 2015. Pl.'s Resp. to Def.'s Prelim. Daubert Objs. to the Proposed Test. of John Orlowski and Paul Cyr (ECF No. 111) (Pl.'s Resp.). The Court held an evidentiary hearing that began on October 26, 2015 and continued on December 16 and 17, 2015. Min. Entry (ECF No. 114); Min. Entry (ECF No. 119); Min. Entry (ECF No. 121).

         On February 17, 2016, Yates-American supplemented its preliminary objections and moved to exclude the experts' testimony. Yates American's Suppl. Br. to Exclude Pl.'s Experts (ECF No. 133) (Def.'s Mot.). Mr. Wyman opposed the motion on February 26, 2016. Pl.'s Resp. to Def.'s Suppl. Br. to Exclude Pl.'s Experts (ECF No. 138) (Pl.'s Opp'n). Yates-American replied on March 11, 2016. Yates American Machine Company's Reply to Pl.'s Opp'n to Yates American Machine Company's Daubert Challenges for Paul Cyr (ECF No. 139) (Def.'s Reply).

         B. The Disputed Experts

         1. Paul A. Cyr

         Mr. Wyman designated Paul A. Cyr as an expert. Mr. Cyr spent two years at Northeastern University's College of Engineering and is a Licensed Stationary Engineer in the state of Maine. Pl.'s Resp. Attach. 2 Resume of Paul A. Cyr at 4 (Cyr Resume). He spent over 22 years working for OSHA before retiring and developing an expert consulting business. Id. at 3. During his time at OSHA, Mr. Cyr conducted physical inspections of workplaces for OSHA compliance and was considered an expert on logging, sawmill, paper mill, and arborist safety and health issues. Id. at 2. Mr. Cyr has participated in, as well as developed and delivered, numerous training and safety courses. Id. at 4, 7-8.

         Mr. Cyr prepared an initial report for this case on January 13, 2014. Pl.'s Resp. Attach. 3 Paul Cyr Report (Jan. 13, 2014) (Cyr Report). In this report, Mr. Cyr opined that 1) the Yates-American planer should have and could have feasibly been guarded; 2) the lack of guard caused Mr. Wyman's injuries; 3) the planer did not meet industry standards; and 4) Yates-American and Industrie Guerrete knew, or should have known, that the planer did not meet industry standards. Id. at 2-3. Mr. Cyr supplemented this report on May 14, 2015 in response to one of Yates-American's expert reports. Pl.'s Resp. Attach. 5 Suppl. Report of Paul A. Cyr (May 14, 2015) (Cyr Suppl. Report). In this report, Mr. Cyr opines that, contrary to Defendant's expert's conclusions, Yates-American did in fact manufacture the base and hood on the planer and that any changes to the planer are “simply a reflection of advances in systems and technology.” Id. at 2-3. In addition to testifying about the information contained in these reports, Mr. Cyr plans to rebut the opinions of Yates-American's experts. Pl.'s Resp. Attach. 4 Pl.'s Suppl. of Orlowski and Cyr Expert Ops. and Rebuttal of Def.'s Expert Ops. (Pl.'s Suppl. of Experts' Ops.).

         2. John M. Orlowski

         Mr. Wyman also designated John M. Orlowski as an expert in this case. Mr. Orlowski is a Licensed Professional Engineer in the states of Maine, Massachusetts, and New York. Aff. of John Orlowski (ECF No. 112) (Orlowski Aff.) Attach. 1 John M. Orlowski Curriculum Vitae at 1 (Orlowski Resume). He has over 45 years of drafting, design engineering, and consulting experience and he co-authored a chapter in “Products Liability” entitled Engineering Aspects of Guarding of Machinery and Equipment. Id. at 2-4.

         Mr. Orlowski prepared a report for this case on January 13, 2014. Orlowski Aff. Attach. 2 John Orlowski Report (Jan. 13, 2014) (Orlowski Report). He also prepared a technical report on May 2, 2014. Id. Attach. 3 John Orlowski Technical Report (May 2, 2014) (Orlowski Technical Report). In these reports, Mr. Orlowski states that, in his opinion: 1) the Yates-American planer was defective and unreasonably dangerous because it lacked guards, emergency stop controls, and suitable warnings; 2) Yates-American and Industrie Guerette did not act as reasonable manufacturers by failing to adequately guard the planer and warn of such conditions; and 3) the condition of the planer caused Mr. Wyman's injuries. Orlowski Report at 3; Orlowski Technical Report at 9. In addition to testifying about the information contained in these reports, Mr. Orlowski plans to rebut the opinions of Yates-American's experts. Pl.'s Suppl. of Experts' Ops. at 1.

         II. THE PARTIES' POSITIONS

         A. Yates-American's Preliminary Daubert Objections

         Pursuant to the Court's request, Yates-American summarized its challenges to the proposed opinions and testimony of Mr. Wyman's experts, Mr. Cyr and Mr. Orlowski. Def.'s Prelim. Objs. at 1. Yates-American first objects to Mr. Cyr's proposed testimony that Yates-American manufactured, designed, and sold the planer and parts involved in Mr. Wyman's accident. Id. at 2. Yates-American provides contrary testimony from the company's owner that the planer is not a Yates-American planer. Id. Additionally, Yates-American states that Mr. Cyr admitted that he has no knowledge or experience with the manufacturing process of Yates-American planers, nor any knowledge of the aftermarket parts manufacturing industry, and that he has no information about the particular parts used for the planer in this accident. Id. at 2-3. Yates-American claims that Mr. Cyr's lack of knowledge in these areas is significant because “Industrie Guerette was in the business of manufacturing Yates planers and Yates parts for sale in the aftermarket industry.” Id. at 3. It then cites testimony by DK-Spec Inc.'s president in which he testified “to the copycat nature in the parts manufacturing industry.” Id.

         Yates-American also objects to Mr. Cyr's proposed testimony “that the planer involved in Mr. Wyman's accident was defective and unreasonably dangerous because it did not have a guard over the outfeed rolls, and that the failure to provide a guard in 1973 caused Mr. Wyman's injury.” Id. at 4. According to Yates-American, Mr. Cyr admitted that he has no information or evidence as to whether a guard was installed on the planer. Id. It claims that this testimony is significant because Yates-American says it “sold the very guard that Cyr claims should have been provided on the planer to the owner of the Yates A-20-12 planer serial number B28984.” Id.

         Yates-American objects to Mr. Cyr's general testimony on these issues pursuant to Federal Rule of Evidence 702. Id. First, it argues that Mr. Cyr is not qualified to provide expert testimony on whether Yates-American designed, manufactured and sold the planer or any of its components. Id. Next, Yates-American argues that Mr. Cyr's testimony will not assist the jury in understanding the evidence or in making factual determinations on this issue or on whether there was ever a guard installed on the planer. Id. Additionally, Yates-American argues that Mr. Cyr's proposed testimony is not based on sufficient facts or data, his testimony is not the product of reliable principles and methods, and that Mr. Cyr has not reliably applied the principles and methods to the facts of the case. Id.

         More specifically, Yates-American makes Rule 702 objections to nineteen facts or opinions made by Mr. Cyr in his reports and deposition:

1. that there was no indication that a guard was ever installed for the out root feed rolls of the Yates American planer sold in 1973;
2. there was no indication that warnings or instructions had ever been placed on the Yates American planer sold in 1973;
3. the lack of a guard sold with the Yates American planer in 1973 resulted in the accident planer being unreasonably dangerous and was the cause of Mr. Wyman's injury;
4. if properly guarded Mr. Wyman's hand could not have been pulled into the outfeed rolls and his injury could not and would not have occurred;
5. the guard would not have affected the operation of the planer;
6. knowledge regarding the guarding of nip points such as the one on the planer causing Mr. Wyman's injury has been widely known and published since the early 1900s and Yates American knew or should have known of such guarding information;
7. the Yates American planer did not meet the standard of care for manufacturers at the time of manufacture because of its lack of guarding the nip point and moving parts of the outfeed rolls,
8. the lack of a guard is a violation of OSHA standards;
9. the name "American" appears to have been ground off casting on the base of the planer at Stratton lumber;
10. the letter "B" was in front of the serial number 28984 and was partially obliterated;
11. the measurements of the outfeed rolls stands and the outfeed rolls match Yates American drawings;
12. the right and left outfeed roll stands were manufactured by Yates American and the right outfeed roll stand has been modified, and the right and left in feed roll stands were manufactured by Yates American;
13. the hood observed by Mr. Cyr on the accident planer was identical to other hoods on other Yates American planers;
14. a Yates American 1973 or 1989 guard probably would have prevented several other hand injuries Mr. Borghi admitted ...

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