Cornwell v. Union Pacific Railroad Co., No. 10-5151 (10th Cir. 2012)Annotate this Case
Plaintiff-Appellant Dennis Cornwell brought a wrongful death action on behalf of his wife who died at a railroad grade crossing when the vehicle she was driving hit a locomotive owned and operated by Defendant Union Pacific Railroad Company. Union Pacific moved for summary judgment and also moved to exclude the testimony of Plaintiff's four experts based on "Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc." (509 U.S. 579 (1993)). The district court granted the summary judgment motion in part and ruled that the testimony of three experts should be excluded. The case proceeded to a jury trial. At its conclusion, the jury entered a verdict in favor of Union Pacific. Plaintiff appealed seeking to overturn the pre-trial rulings. Finding that the district court's ruling was supported by Tenth Circuit precedent and case law from other circuits, the Tenth Circuit affirmed the lower court's decision: "[t]he district court determined that [Plaintiff's experts'] proffered evidence was unreliable under "Daubert" standards: their evidence was speculative and conclusory." The Court therefore affirmed the exclusion of the experts' testimony and the grant of summary judgment in favor of the railroad.