Durette v. Virgil

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Evidence
  • Date Filed: 07-22-2015
  • Case #: A152871
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Wilson, S.J. for the Court; Nakamoto, P.J.; & Egan, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

Under OEC 401, if experts in a field typically rely on studying photographs and particular statistical data, then that methodology of analysis will be sufficient to avoid excluding the testimony. An expert may be qualified to testify to scientific evidence under OEC 702, even where that expert is unlicensed by the applicable regulatory body.

Plaintiff Durette appealed a judgment in favor of Defendant Virgil after a trial regarding a motor vehicle accident. At trial, Plaintiff moved in limine to exclude Defendant's expert, a biomechanical engineer unlicensed in Oregon, who, after studying photographs and statistical crash data, gave his opinion at trial that the forces in the collision were not great enough to cause Plaintiff injury. To qualify the expert, an OEC 104 hearing was held during which the expert testified to his extensive education and training in the field of biomechanical engineering and his methodology in analyzing the collision at issue and resulting injuries; the trial court held the expert's testimony was admissible. On appeal, Plaintiff argued the trial court erred when it denied her motion in limine, allowing the expert to testify without personally inspecting Plaintiff's vehicle. The Court held the expert's testimony was relevant under OEC 401 because experts in the field reasonably rely on the same methodology of examining photographs and crash test data to perform a biomedical injury assessment analysis and the opinion tended to show the facts of consequence were more or less probable than without the opinion; the expert was qualified under OEC 702 to give testimony regarding scientific evidence, despite his lack of an Oregon engineering license; and the expert testimony's probative value was not outweighed by its prejudicial effect because the expert was testifying to matters the jury was not equally capable of determining. Affirmed.

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