In Jerid Enterprises, LLC v. Lloyd’s London the US District Court for the Northern District of Indiana has ruled that a structural failure analysis expert witness is qualified to testify because of his education, experience, and because his opinion falls within his area of expertise. The Court reasoned:
Lloyd’s has not attacked Mohajeri’s qualifications as an expert, per se. Jerid has tendered Mohajeri as an expert in “structural engineering” [DE 60 at 1], a field which is certainly relevant, as the issue in this case concerns a structural collapse. It is undisputed that Mohajeri is, in fact, a structural engineer. He has a degree from the University of Missouri within the field, and has attended conferences concerning failure analysis and blast failure analysis. He has extensive experience as a structural engineer, including 39 years as the head of MHM Associates, Inc., his consulting firm, and he has previously testified in legal proceedings as to the cause for structural failures. Mohajeri is admittedly not a specialist in electrical engineering or in the study of lightning strikes, but the nature of his analysis in this case—progressively eliminating possible causes for the collapse which were clearly within his realm of technical understanding, until only one possibility is left—is the sort of analysis a structural engineer with training and experience in failure analysis is qualified to do. Indeed, it is the exact same sort of elimination analysis done by Lloyd’s own expert engineers in this case. Moreover, “a witness may testify as an expert without a perfect match between qualifications and the scientific issues in the case.” Henderson v. Freightliner, LLC, 2005 WL 775929 at *16 (S.D.Ind.2005) (citing Smith v. Ford Motor Co., 215 F.3d 713, 720 (7th Cir.2000)); see also Owens v. Amtrol, Inc., 94 F.Supp.2d 952, 954–55 (N.D.Ind.2000). This match is sufficient. It is not uncommon for structural engineers to testify as expert causation witnesses in building collapse cases, even where lightning is a central potential cause. See, e.g., Guideone Elite Ins. Co. v. Diocese of the Northeast and Mid–Atlantic of the Reformed Episcopal Church, No. Civ.A. 05–4162, 2006 WL 759711 at *4–5 (E.D.Pa. March 23, 2006); Simmons v. Allstate Ins. Co., No. Civ.A. 96–5112, 1996 WL 728753 at *2 (E.D.Pa. Dec.18, 1996). The court finds that Mohajeri is qualified by education and experience as an expert in structural engineering and failure analysis and that the nature of the opinion evidence he intends to offer falls within his area of expertise. His testimony is still subject, of course, to the remaining four requirements of Rule 702.
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