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Barnett v. Procom Heating, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Fort Worth Division

April 2, 2018

DAVID BARNETT, Plaintiff,
v.
PROCOM HEATING, INC, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          JOHN MCBRYDE, JUDGE

         Came on for consideration the motion of defendant, Procom Heating, Inc., to exclude the expert testimony of David R. Sneed ("Sneed") and Johnie P. Spruiell, P.E. ("Spruiell"). The court, having considered the motion, the response of plaintiff, David Barnett, the reply, the record, and applicable authorities, finds that the motion should be granted.

         I.

         Plaintiff's Claims

         The operative pleading is plaintiff's first amended complaint filed June 20, 2017. Doc.[1] 8. In it, plaintiff alleges that a heater manufactured by defendant malfunctioned during operation and emitted a candling flame instead of concentrated hot air, engulfing plaintiff's hangar and its contents in flames. Specifically, plaintiff says that the heater had a design or manufacturing defect in a set screw that caused the fan blades to detach from the motor shaft, causing a flame, rather than hot air, to be emitted due to poor combustion. Plaintiff asserts claims for strict products liability, negligence, breach of express and implied warranties, and violation of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protection Act.

         II.

         Grounds of the Motion

         Plaintiff has designated Sneed as an expert on the fire's cause and origin, and Spruiell as an expert on the alleged defect in the heater. Defendant says that Spruiell is not qualified to render an opinion concerning the alleged defect in the design of the heater. Further, the opinions of both Sneed and Spruiell are unreliable.

         III.

         Standards Applicable to Expert Testimony

         Rule 702 of the Federal Rules of Evidence provides:

         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 ...

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