Safety Expert Witness' Interpretation of Driver Logs Deemed Reliable

Safety Expert Witness’ Interpretation of Driver Logs Deemed Reliable

A district judge in Texas allowed a truck safety expert to testify about safety regulation compliance after stating that his testimony did not consist of methodological flaws.

Plaintiff Antoine Manson alleged that on March 20, 2021, at about 3:00 a.m., he was traveling on Loop 1604 in Bexar County, Texas when he was struck by Defendant Mariel A. Arias-Padilla (“Defendant Driver”), who was driving a commercial motor vehicle within the course and scope of her employment with Defendants B&S Trucking of Jackson, LLC (“Defendant Company”) and JJ&C Express Corp.

The force of the impact allegedly caused Plaintiff to lose control and subsequently crashed into the median concrete barrier. Plaintiff alleged that he suffered major injuries as a result.

Plaintiff sought to exclude the testimony of Rodney Ellis, Defendants’ expert witness. The Defendants designated Ellis as a commercial vehicle safety and safety regulation compliance expert. The Defendants stated that Ellis may testify regarding “commercial vehicle safety, hiring, training, supervision, risk management, loss prevention, regulatory compliance, operations, driver qualifications, driver safety procedures, hours of service regulations, and driving techniques.”

Safety Expert Witness

Rodney Dean Ellis II has been involved in the trucking industry as a licensed commercial truck driver and safety consultant since 1991, performed “dozens of audits of commercial motor carriers/shippers,” and received professional training by several transportation associations. 

Get in-depth insights into Rodney Dean Ellis’ expert witness experience by requesting his Expert Witness Profile today.

Discussion by the Court

Plaintiff did not appear to challenge Ellis’ qualifications to testify. Rather, Plaintiff disputed Ellis’ conclusion that while Defendant Driver “was in off duty status, the global positioning data in the driver log records indicated that she had a co-driver who drove the tractor-trailer while she was off-duty.” 

Plaintiff asserted that in reaching this conclusion, Ellis ignored key evidence including i) the driver logs do not indicate a co-driver; ii) Defendant Driver provided conflicting deposition testimony regarding the presence of a co-driver; and iii) the police report does not indicate the presence of such a co-driver.

Defendants countered that Ellis relied on several parties’ depositions (including Defendant Driver), driver logs, global positioning data contained within the driver logs, and an “Interview with [Driver Defendant] Mariel Arias-Padilla.”

Based on this information, Ellis testified he concluded there was evidence of a second driver because there was no unidentified driver movement of the vehicle in the logs, supporting that another driver with identifying credentials was logged into the system; that the logs contained no error messages consistent with Defendant Driver logged out but no other driver logged in; and that the data shows another driver logged into the database, though it does not specify which driver.

Moreover, the Court held that the Plaintiff did not identify any methodological flaws with Ellis’ work. Rather, Plaintiff pointed to extrinsic evidence—such as conflicting testimony from Defendant Driver or the police report—to undercut Ellis’ interpretation of the driver logs.

In conclusion, the Court found Ellis’ opinion reliable, because the driver logs were crucial in determining whether Defendant Driver was fatigued at the time of the accident.


The Court denied the Plaintiff’s motion to exclude Defense Expert Rodney Ellis.

Key Takeaway:

The Court, citing Holcombe v. United States, 516 F. Supp. 3d 660, 675 (W.D. Tex. 2021), held that an opposing party’s “doubts about the bases” of an expert opinion did not render an expert opinion “unsupported,” and such questions affected “the weight to be assigned to that opinion rather than admissibility.”

Case Details:

Case Caption:Manson v. B&S Trucking of Jackson, LLC
Docket Number:5:21cv1181
Court:United States District Court, Texas Western
Order Date:May 28, 2024


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *