Court of Appeals of Texas, Fifth District, Dallas
Appeal from the County Court at Law No. 2 Grayson County,
Texas Trial Court Cause No. 2013-2-063CV
Justices Bridges, Myers, and Schenck
Zamora appeals the trial court's judgment dismissing his
claims against Champion Cooler Corporation. Zamora brings two
issues on appeal contending the trial court erred (1) by
excluding his expert witness on causation, denying his motion
for a continuance of the trial, and denying him leave to
designate a new causation expert; and (2) by granting
appellee's motion for summary judgment. We affirm the
trial court's judgment.
worked for appellee as an apprentice welder and metal cutter.
On August 16, 2012, appellee directed Zamora to help cut a
metal plate and fit it over a pit where a press machine once
stood. The pit contained grease, oil, moisture, and debris.
Zamora used an oxy-acetylene torch over the pit to cut the
plate, and the torch vaporized some of the material in the
pit. Zamora inhaled the vapors, after which he had difficulty
breathing. Zamora went to his doctor, who determined he had
pneumonia. Later, Zamora went to a pulmonologist, Dr. Muqad
Zuriqat, who determined Zamora either had asthma, or he had
reactive airway dysfunction syndrome (RADS) from the
workplace fumes. After being off work for a month, Zamora was
about eighty percent improved. However, he continued to have
breathing issues while he worked for appellee, and he
eventually quit working for appellee because he was too sick
to continue working there.
sued appellee, who was a workers' compensation
nonsubscriber, for negligence seeking actual and exemplary
damages. Appellee filed no-evidence and traditional motions
for summary judgment, which the trial court initially denied.
Appellee later moved to exclude the evidence of Zamora's
expert witness on causation, Dr. Zuriqat. The trial court
granted the motion and ordered that Zamora was barred from
presenting Dr. Zuriqat's testimony regarding causation of
Zamora's injuries. Appellee then moved for the trial
court to reconsider appellee's motions for summary
judgment. Zamora moved for a continuance of the trial date
and for leave to designate a new expert witness on causation.
The trial court denied Zamora's motion and granted
appellee's motions for summary judgment, dismissing
OF EXPERT WITNESS
first issue, Zamora contends the trial court erred by (a)
granting appellee's motion to exclude Dr. Zuriqat's
testimony on causation, and (b) denying Zamora's motion
for a continuance of the trial and for leave to designate a
new causation expert.
review a trial court's decision to exclude expert-witness
testimony for an abuse of discretion. Spin Doctor Golf,
Inc. v. Paymentech, L.P., 296 S.W.3d 354, 359 (Tex.
App.- Dallas 2009, pet. denied). A trial court abuses its
discretion when its ruling is arbitrary, unreasonable, or
without reference to any guiding rules or legal principles.
Bocquet v. Herring, 972 S.W.2d 19, 21 (Tex. 1998).
expert's opinion to be admissible under Texas Rule of
Evidence 702, the expert must be qualified, and the
expert's opinion must be relevant to the issues in the
case and based upon a reliable foundation. Tex. R. Evid. 702;
Exxon Pipeline Co. v. Zwahr, 88 S.W.3d 623, 629
(Tex. 2002); Gammill v. Jack Williams Chevrolet,
Inc., 972 S.W.2d 713, 720 (Tex. 1998); E.I. duPont
& de Nemours & Co. v. Robinson, 923 S.W.2d 549,
556 (Tex. 1995). The relevance requirement, which
incorporates traditional relevancy analysis under Texas Rules
of Evidence 401 and 402, is met if the expert testimony is
"sufficiently tied to the facts of the case that it will
aid the jury in resolving a factual dispute."
Robinson, 923 S.W.2d at 556 (quoting United
States v. Downing, 753 F.2d 1224, 1242 (3rd Cir. 1985)).
Evidence that has no relationship to any issue in the case
does not satisfy rule 702 and is thus inadmissible under rule
702, as well as rules 401 and 402. Id.
702's reliability requirement focuses on principles,
research, and methodology underlying an expert's
conclusions. Id. at 557. Under this requirement,
expert testimony is unreliable if it is not grounded "in
the methods and procedures of science" and is no more
than "subjective belief or unsupported
speculation." Id. (quoting Daubert v.
Merrell Dow Pharm., Inc., 509 U.S. 579, 590 (1993)).
Expert testimony is also unreliable if there is too great an
analytical gap between the data the expert relies upon and
the opinion offered. Gammill, 972 S.W.2d at 727. In
applying this reliability standard, however, the trial court
does not decide whether the expert's conclusions are
correct; instead, the trial court determines whether the
analysis used to reach those conclusions is reliable.
Id. at 728.
expert is challenged, the proponent of the expert opinion
must prove the reliability of each opinion. Mack Trucks,
Inc. v. Tamez, 206 S.W.3d 572, 578 (Tex. 2006). The
proponent bears this burden "regardless of the quality
or quantity of the opposing party's evidence on the issue
and regardless of whether the opposing party attempts to
conclusively prove the expert testimony is wrong."
Whirlpool v. Camacho, 298 S.W.3d 631, 639 (Tex.
2009). This burden includes ensuring that the expert's
testimony contains no internal inconsistencies. See Gen.
Motors Corp. v. Iracheta, 161 S.W.2d 462, 470-72 (Tex.
trial court serves as a gatekeeper to screen out irrelevant
and unreliable expert evidence. Zwahr, 88 S.W.3d at
629. The trial court has broad discretion to determine the
admissibility of evidence, and we review the trial
court's decision under an abuse of discretion standard.
Id. A trial court abuses its discretion when it acts
without regard to any guiding rules or principles. Downer
v. Aquamarine Operators, Inc.,701 S.W.2d 238, 241-42
(Tex. 1985). Whether a trial court abused its ...