Biomechanical Engineering Expert Witness' Testimony As to General Causation of Injuries held to be Permissible

Biomechanical Engineering Expert Witness’ Testimony As to General Causation of Injuries held to be Permissible

Plaintiff Ernst Nicolas suffered severe injuries to his cervical spine, lumbar spine, right knee, and left shoulder in a motor vehicle accident that took place on September 1st, 2018, on JF Kennedy Blvd at the intersection with 63rd Street, in Jersey City. Nicolas was a rear seat passenger in a Lyft vehicle when a truck owned by Defendant ABF Freight Systems, and driven by Randy Rivers, rear-ended a Chevrolet Cobalt, which then collided with the Lyft vehicle.

Defendant conceded liability when Plaintiff filed a lawsuit. The only remaining issue in this case is to determine the extent of damages resulting from the accident.

Defendant retained a biomechanical engineer, William Bussone to assess the following:

  • the severity of the collision
  • the forces imparted to the body of the Plaintiff as a result of the accident
  • the absence of any mechanism to cause any permanent injury to the cervical spine, thoracic spine, lumbosacral spine and/ or extremities
  • whether the subject accident caused the alleged injuries

Plaintiff filed a Daubert motion challenging Bussone’s testimony because he is not a licensed medical doctor. For the reasons set forth below, the Court rejected the Daubert challenge against Bussone’s testimony.

Biomechanical Engineering Expert Witness

William Bussone is a biomechanical engineer with an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering (from Virginia Tech) and a B.S. in Biomedical Engineering (from Michigan Tech). He has testifying experience and more than 15 years research experience in biomechanics, accident reconstruction, and human injury / tolerance to mechanical load.

Discussion by the Court

Plaintiff alleged that Bussone lacked the requisite qualifications to comment on the diagnosis, treatment or prognosis of an injured person. According to the Plaintiff, Bussone was unqualified to provide testimony as to medical causation.

Bussone is Unqualified to Comment on any Area of Medicine

The Court noted Bussone’s significant experience in the field of biomechanical engineering. After all, Bussone engaged in research regarding injury biomechanics for more than fifteen years. He read and analysed the medical records to evaluate the extent, distribution and severity of injuries as they related to biomechanical analysis. Bussone has a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering and a master’s degree in mechanical engineering. He has conducted research on “human tolerance to impact and acceleration loading in vehicles” and published the findings in peer-reviewed articles.

The scope of Bussone’s proposed testimony concerned the general causation of injuries in motor vehicle accident cases, such as this one. Defendant asserted that it had no intention to have Bussone opine about the diagnosis, treatment or prognosis of any injury.

The Court subsequently held that Bussone’s expert testimony was permissible as biomechanical experts are permitted to opine as to general causation since he will not be opining on Plaintiff’s particular alleged injuries and medical care.

Bussone’s Opinions are not Based on Sufficient Facts and Data

Both parties disagreed about whether Plaintiff’s alleged injuries were caused by the accident. Plaintiff was of the opinion that Bussone’s conclusions warranted exclusion on that basis. The Court, citing In re Fosamax Products Liability Litigation 645 F. Supp. 2d 164 (S.D.N.Y. 2009), observed that the jury will be the judge of whether Plaintiff’s alleged injuries were caused by the accident and it was the jury’s responsibility to assess what weight to be given to the proffered testimony.

Expert testimony is excluded when speculative, conjectural, or based on unrealistic assumptions implying bad faith. The Court found Bussone’s opinions grounded in adequate facts and data, lacking signs of bad faith


The Court denied Plaintiff’s motion to strike the testimony of William Bussone.

The Court has not arrived on an outcome for this case since the remaining issues involved in this case still await resolution.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Expertise and Qualifications Matter: The Court noted Bussone’s significant experience in biomechanical engineering, including over fifteen years of research in injury biomechanics. His educational background in biomedical and mechanical engineering further solidified his qualifications.
  2. Scope of Testimony: Bussone’s testimony focused on the general causation of injuries in motor vehicle accident cases, avoiding specific diagnoses, treatments, or prognoses of injuries, which were beyond the scope of his proposed testimony.
  3. Sufficiency of Facts and Data: Expert testimony must be based on sufficient facts and data to be admissible. The Court found no indications of speculation, conjecture, or bad faith in Bussone’s conclusions.

Case Details:

Case Caption:Nicolas V. ABF Freight System Et Al
Docket Number:1:19cv6513
Court:United States District Court, New York Eastern
Citation:2024 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 41661
Order Date:January 24, 2024


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