THIS OPINION HAS NO PRECEDENTIAL VALUE. IT SHOULD NOT BE CITED OR RELIED ON AS
PRECEDENT IN ANY PROCEEDING EXCEPT AS PROVIDED BY RULE 239(d)(2), SCACR.
THE STATE OF
In The Court of Appeals
Scott Douglas Preston, Respondent,
County Sheriff's Department and South Carolina Department of Education, Transportation Division, Appellants.
Daniel F. Pieper, Circuit Court Judge
Unpublished Opinion No. 05-UP-589
Heard October 05, 2005 – Filed November 18, 2005
Christopher L. Murphy and James A. Stuckey, Jr., of
Charleston, for Appellants
George J. Morris, of
Charleston, for Respondent.
PER CURIAM: The Charleston County Sheriff’s Department and South Carolina Department of Education, Transportation Division (Appellants) appeal from a jury verdict awarding Scott Preston damages for injuries he sustained in a traffic accident with a school bus. Appellants argue the trial court erred in permitting a police officer, qualified as an expert, to give opinion testimony regarding speed. We affirm.
This action arises out of a traffic accident that occurred on the morning of February 26, 2001.
Preston filed a negligence action against Appellants seeking damages for injuries he sustained in the accident. A jury found
Preston proffered the testimony of the police officer who investigated the accident, Murray Abramson. Appellants objected to Abramson giving an opinion regarding
After qualifying him as an expert, the trial court allowed Abramson to offer his opinion regarding the motorcycle’s speed prior to the accident. At the scene of the accident, Abramson measured the motorcycle’s skid marks at 90 feet, 11 inches. Using a chart to estimate speed based on the length of skid marks, reaction time, and braking time, Abramson testified
The jury returned a verdict in the amount of $707,000. However, the jury found
Appellants argue the trial court judge abused his discretion by qualifying Abramson as an expert and allowing him to give an opinion as to the motorcycle’s speed preceding the collision. We disagree.
Rule 702, SCRE permits expert opinion testimony and articulates the standard for admissibility as follows: “If scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue, a witness qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education, may testify thereto in the form of an opinion or otherwise.” Qualification of an expert and the admission or exclusion of his testimony is within the sound discretion of the trial judge and will not be disturbed on appeal absent an abuse of discretion. State v. Goode, 305 S.C. 176, 177-78, 406 S.E.2d 391, 392-93 (Ct. App. 1991). “There is no abuse of discretion as long as the witness has acquired by study or practical experience such knowledge of the subject matter of his testimony as would enable him to give guidance and assistance to the jury in resolving a factual issue which is beyond the scope of the jury’s good judgment and common knowledge.” Goode, 305 S.C. at 178, 406 S.E.2d at 393. There is no exact requirement concerning how knowledge or skill must be acquired.
Here, the trial court permitted Abramson to testify as an expert after assessing his qualifications, and we can discern no error in the trial court’s qualification of Abramson on the issue of speed. Abramson testified he had 16 years experience as a highway patrolman; received training at the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy; received instruction in advanced accident investigation at an institute in Florida, including training in estimating speed based on skid marks; and involvement in investigating hundreds of cases. In light of Abramson’s training and experience, we find he could have provided assistance to the jury on the question of speed. Moreover, any defect in the amount and quality of education and experience goes to the weight of the expert’s testimony and not to its admissibility. Lee v. Suess, 318 S.C. 283, 286, 457 S.E.2d 344, 346 (1995).
Even if the trial court judge had abused his discretion by qualifying Abramson as an expert and allowing him to testify on the issue of speed, Appellants cannot show they were prejudiced as a result. Abramson’s testimony was cumulative to several other witnesses’ trial testimony, including that of the Appellants’ own expert, Jur. See Gulledge, 328 S.C. at 509, 492 S.E.2d at 818 (holding cumulative testimony was an insufficient ground for reversal even though the trial court erred in permitting a non-expert patrolman to testify). Abramson testified
GOOLSBY, BEATTY, and SHORT, JJ., concur.