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AlNahhas v. Robert Bosch Tool Corp.

United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma

May 18, 2018

HANNA ALNAHHAS and BARBARA ALNAHHAS, Plaintiffs,
v.
ROBERT BOSCH TOOL CORPORATION, Defendant.

          ORDER

          TIMOTHY D. DeGIUSTI, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is Defendant Robert Bosch Tool Corporation's Motion to Exclude the Expert Testimony of Plaintiff's Expert, Dr. Robert Anderson [Doc. No. 63]. Plaintiffs have filed their response in opposition [Doc. No. 69] and Defendant has replied [Doc. No. 74]. The matter is fully briefed and at issue.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff, Hanna AlNahhas (“Plaintiff”), was injured while operating a random orbit sander manufactured by Defendant. Under tort theories of strict products liability and negligence, Plaintiffs sued Defendant alleging the sander was defectively designed and had inadequate warnings.[1] In support of the claims, Plaintiffs retained the services of Dr. Robert Anderson. Dr. Anderson is president of RNA Consulting, Inc., where he specializes in forensic engineering. His areas of expertise include metallurgical failure analysis, corrosion, thermodynamics, engineering design failure, electrical fires, ballistics, and accident analysis. Dr. Anderson described his occupation thusly:

I do failure analysis, and a component of that is to look at what would have prevented that failure, whether it was changing some compositional area, reinforcing area or warnings, and so just about every issue I address, there [is] some concept in there about what could have stopped the injury from occurring.

         Depo. of Robert Anderson at 36:14-19.

         Dr. Anderson received his Ph.D in Metallurgy from Stanford University and his bachelor and master of science degrees in Chemical Engineering from the University of California, Berkley. At the time of his report, he was an emeritus professor at California State University at San Jose. Among other licenses, he is a registered metallurgical engineer and is certified in the specialty of forensic engineering. He takes classes every year on product failure and has authored several publications regarding forensic engineering.

         At Plaintiffs' request, Dr. Anderson examined the sanding disc at issue with a stereo microscope and scanning electron microscope. He did not test any other pad, but did examine an exemplar pad similar to the one used by Plaintiff. Dr. Anderson testified that in addition to examining the sander, he reviewed Plaintiff's discovery requests and Defendant's answers to Plaintiff's Requests for Admission. He also reviewed drawings produced by Defendant during discovery, as well as literature on the sander and the operating manual.

         After examining the pad, he issued a written report (the Anderson Report) detailing his findings and conclusions. The report consisted of two general opinions: (1) Defendant did not specify or warn as to the end of life behavior of the sanding disc and should not have sold the disc without such warning, and (2) there was a design defect in the molding process, which made the disc unreasonably dangerous and caused it to lose its “strength” over time. Specifically, Dr. Anderson's report stated:

In my opinion, the presence of voids and the mixture of brittle and plastic regions made the sanding disc too weak for the intended use. Further, there is no warning that the sanding disc can fracture after extended use.
The manufacturer's molding process was the cause of the failure, and this made the disc unreasonably dangerous. [Defendant] did a number of tests on the orbital sander, but did not specify or warn as to end-of-life behavior of the disc. Without providing documentation or warnings on how the disc might fail, [Defendant] should not have sold these discs.
It is reasonable to expect that without initially putting on safety glasses, a user might test the functioning of the orbital sander before starting work. Therefore, knowledge of the stability of the disc during its lifetime is critical.
The manufacturing defects and the lack of warnings with regard to the end-of-life behavior resulted in a dangerous condition that ...

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