Expert Article Library

Two Ships Crashing in the Night

Case Name: Stolt Achievement, Ltd. v. Lindholm (

Court: U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit; on appeal from Southern District of Texas.

Date: April 19, 2006

Type of Expert: Master Mariner. David Scrunton, master mariner

Issue: Is an expert’s testimony that may exceed his expertise admissible if it’s not central to the case?

Summary of case: A chemical tanker and dredge boat collided in a port channel. Dredge boat owners used an expert witness who testified about the navigation and handling capabilities of the ships.

Role of the expert: Defense expert testified on issues of proper ship handling, navigation and observations based on his extensive general experience.

Expert analysis: Plaintiff argues that the witness overstepped his expertise and was not an expert qualified to testify on specific hydrodynamic effects.

The Court ruled for the defendant saying that the expert did not testify about hydrodynamic effects, only about general effects of waves on the bow, based on his experience. Even if it were construed that he did testify about hydrodynamic effects, Plaintiff’s own expert stated that hydrodynamic effects had nothing to do with the accident.

Summary prepared by J. Baik, Student, University of San Francisco School of Law