United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
ANGELA J. FIELDS, Plaintiff,
PIERRE OCTAVIUS ASHFORD, et al., Defendants.
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO EXCLUDE
EXPERT OPINION TESTIMONY OF GARY McDONALD (ECF NO.
MATTHEW F. LEITMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
action arises out of an automobile accident between Plaintiff
Angela Fields and Defendant Pierre Octavius Ashford that
occurred on I-96 in Milford, Michigan. Fields' Ford Edge
crashed into the back of Ashford's semi-truck shortly
after Ashford pulled his truck from the shoulder into
Fields' lane of travel. The central dispute between the
parties is: what caused the accident? Fields says that
Ashford caused the wreck by pulling into her lane and leaving
her “no time at all to avoid [the] collision.”
(Fields Resp. Br., ECF No. 82, PageID.2337.) Ashford counters
that he is not to blame because Fields had enough time to see
his truck and to avoid the accident by braking and/or
has retained accident reconstructionist Gary McDonald to
support her causation theory. Ashford and Defendants Corr
Transport, Inc. and Dakota Lines, Inc. have moved to exclude
McDonald's opinions on the ground that his opinions do
not rest upon a reliable foundation. (See Mot. to
Exclude, ECF No. 81.) The Court will grant Defendants'
deposition testimony makes clear that he cannot reliably
support Fields' causation theory. Indeed, McDonald
admitted that he did not conduct any analysis that would
allow him to “say” that Fields'
“didn't have enough time” to avoid the
accident. (McDonald Dep. at 35, ECF No. 81-1, PageID.2258.)
Moreover, McDonald's expert report and the remainder of
his deposition testimony demonstrate that he did not perform
a reliable evaluation of the crash and that none of his
causation opinions rest upon a reasonable foundation. His
expert report is one page and lists conclusions without any
causation analysis, and his deposition testimony revealed
that he did not employ any analytical methodology, much less
a reliable one. Therefore, for all of these reasons, the
Court GRANTS Defendants' motion and
EXCLUDES McDonald's testimony in its
accident between Fields and Ashford occurred on May 25, 2016.
Immediately prior to the accident, Ashford had stopped his
semi-truck on the shoulder of I-96. (See Ashford
Dep. at 37, ECF No. 71-2, PageID.1592.) Ashford then pulled
back into the right lane of traffic at a speed of roughly
20-to-25 miles per hour. (See Id. at 45,
PageID.1600.) Fields was driving in that same lane.
(See Fields Dep. at 43, ECF No. 71-3, PageID.1695.)
Shortly after Ashford re-entered the highway, Fields crashed
into the rear of Ashford's semi-truck. (See Id.
at 45-46, PageID.1697-98.) Both parties have engaged expert
witnesses to support their contention that the other party is
at fault for the crash.
proposed accident-reconstruction expert is McDonald. McDonald
is the President of Magnetic North Consulting, and he is a
former officer with the Michigan State Police. (See
McDonald Dep. at 7-10, ECF No. 81-1, PageID.2251-2252.) He is
also a member the Michigan Association of Traffic Accident
Investigators and the International Association of Accident
Reconstruction Specialists. (See Id. at 9-10,
retained McDonald in June of 2016. (See Id. at
17-18, PageID.2254.) Thereafter, McDonald inspected
Fields' car and reviewed the following documents:
• A Michigan State Police “UD-10” crash
• An unidentified “fee calculation form”
that McDonald acquired through the Freedom of Information
• A Michigan State Police report from the “Traffic
Crash Reconstruction Unit”;
• Unidentified Detroit Diesel Engine Control
• A Michigan State Police “Police Incident
(McDonald Expert Rpt., ECF No. 81-1, PageID.2246.)
5, 2018, McDonald submitted his expert report. (See
id.) In that report, he opines that Ashford “was
the cause of [the] crash.” (Id.,
PageID.2246-2247.) But the report contains no analysis
whatsoever to support or explain that conclusion. Instead,
the report - which consists of a mere 329 words and less than
a single full page of text - simply lists a handful of facts
related to the accident and then states McDonald's
conclusion that Ashford caused the crash. In full, the report
states as follows:
Based on my review of the above listed items and materials I
have the following opinions. This crash occurred on I-96
approximately a 1/2 mile East of the Milford Road-Oakland
County in the Eastbound lane speed limit 70 mph. The vehicles
involved were a 2005 freightliner semi-tractor with trailer
in a 2010 Ford Edge.
The semi-tractor trailer with being operated by Pierre
Octavius Ashford, 31 years old of Southfield Michigan. The
Ford Edge was being operated by Angela Jeanne fields, 56
The semi-tractor/trailer was on the right-hand shoulder and
merged onto the right-hand lane of I-96 and was struck from
behind by the Ford Edge.
The review of the Michigan State Police Report, scale
drawings and photographs show and indicate that impact
location of this crash was in the right hand lane of the
The impact of the Ford Edge such that the ACM “black
box” was damaged to the extent that it could not be
downloaded with the CDR tool “computer” for a
During the examination of the Ford Edge it was noted that the
speedometer needle was a 92 mph and the rpm needle was at
2100 RPM. The rpm's at 2100 and the speed of 92 mph do
not appear usable to indicate a true and accurate method of
speed determination thus no speed determination was
calculated for the Ford Edge.
Mr. Ashford driver of the 2005 freightliner stated that he
pulled off the right-hand shoulder onto the right-hand lane
of I-96 and was traveling 20 to 25 mph when he was impacted
by the Ford Edge.
Ms. Fields driver of the Ford Edge stated that she was
traveling approximately 70 mph speed limit and never slowed
or braked prior to impact.
It is in my opinion based on my review and analysis of this
crash Mr. Ashford was the cause of this crash by entering
onto the right lane of I-96 in front of Ms. Fields path of
4, 2019, McDonald appeared for a deposition in this action.
He testified that he had reached the following conclusions:
“Mr. Ashford failed to yield, he was driving below the
minimum speed for commercial vehicles on the freeway and he
took away Ms. Fields' right-of-way.” (McDonald Dep.
at 24, ECF No. 81-1, PageID.2255.) Based upon these
conclusions, McDonald opined that Ashford was “a
hundred percent” at fault for the accident.
(Id. at 26, PageID.2256.)
McDonald's deposition, Ashford's counsel asked
McDonald to identify any evidence that Ashford left Fields no
time to avoid the accident. (See id. at 34-36,
PageID.2258.) In response to those questions, McDonald
identified only Fields' own testimony that
Ashford's truck “jumped right out in front of
her.” (Id. at 35, PageID.2258.) He then
admitted that, apart from Fields' version of events, he
had “no evidence” that Ashford had, in fact,
“jumped” in front of Fields. (Id.)
More importantly, McDonald admitted that his own work and
analysis did not allow him to “say” that Fields
“didn't have enough time” to avoid the
accident. (Id.) And McDonald further conceded
that he could not explain why Fields did not brake, did not
swerve, and/or did not slow down before the crash. (See
Id. at 34, PageID.2258.) McDonald may not have been able
to explain why Fields did not brake, swerve, or slow down
because his analysis did not account for
“perception-reaction time” and because he did not
“factor in perception time.” (Id. at
deposition testimony also revealed that he had done only
limited work before reaching his conclusions. More
specifically, McDonald acknowledged that apart from reviewing
the five pieces of evidence listed in the bullet points above
(in Section (I)(B)) and inspecting Fields' vehicle, he
did not review any other evidence and did not do any modeling
or testing before reaching his opinions and issuing his
Q: So looking at your report … you listed out five
items that were reviewed in conjunction with this report: the
UD-10, the State of Michigan Freedom of Information Act fee
calculation form, a [Michigan State Police] police report
[from the] traffic crash reconstitution unit, the [Detroit
Diesel Engine Control] reports  and the [Michigan State
Police] police incident report. Is that correct?
A: Did you review, prior to issuing your report … any
other evidence, other than those five items?
Q: Other than the vehicle inspection [of Fields' car] did
you perform any other independent investigation?
Q: Have you inspected any exemplar vehicles in conjunction
with this case?
Q: Have you done any testing?
Q: Have you done any modeling in conjunction with this case?
Q: Have you created any animations in conjunction with the