Decision on Whether Maritime Safety Expert Witness Testimony is Limited to Scope of Crane and Rigging Safety Expertise Deferred to Trial


In Dewitt v. Florida Marine Transporters, Inc. the US District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana has ruled that an oil and gas production expert witness may not be qualified to render an opinion on matters regarding towing, fleeting or mooring barges. The Court reasoned:


[name of expert] states in his report that he has over 30 years of experience working with production platforms, barges, structural fabrication yards, vessels, and boats. [name of expert] also states that he has significant experience as a safety supervisor, with particular emphasis in the areas of crane operations and rigging procedures. Florida Marine contends that that [name of expert] lacks the qualifications necessary to render an expert opinion in this case because his expertise is limited to crane operations and rigging procedures, rather than matters regarding towing, fleeting, or mooring.


The Court agrees that while [name of expert] may be qualified to testify with respect to general maritime safety, crane operations, and certain rigging procedures, it is unclear whether [name of expert] experience qualifies him to testify as an expert with respect to the proper manner in which to moor a vessel. An examination of [name of expert]’s resume does not clearly reflect his qualifications to render an expert opinion in this particular case. The Court will defer ruling on [name of expert]’s qualifications until trial. At that time, the parties will have a better opportunity to clarify his qualifications to testify as an expert.