The Court wrote:
- Next, defendant claims that the trial court erred in admitting the testimony of a sociologist as an expert witness. Defendant asserts that the testimony of plaintiffs' expert, Dr. James Gruber, was inappropriate, without foundation, and highly prejudicial because his testimony invaded the province of the judge and jury by going to the ultimate factual and legal conclusions.
An expert is considered any person which the trial court determines has recognized scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge that will assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue. MRE 702; Strzelecki v Blaser's Lakeside Industries of Rice Lake, Inc,133 Mich.App. 191, 198; 348 N.W.2d 311 (1984). The determination of whether a proposed expert witness is properly qualified is left to the sound discretion of the trial court, the decision of which will not be reversed absent an abuse of discretion. Dybata v Kistler,140 Mich.App. 65, 68-69; 362 N.W.2d 891 (1985).
Here, the trial court determined that plaintiffs' expert witness was qualified as an expert witness in the area of sexual harassment. Dr. Gruber had been teaching in the area relating to the subject for a number of years and had published books and articles on the subject. He also testified that he was familiar with the extensive body of research and literature regarding sexual harassment. We do not believe that the trial court abused its discretion in deciding that Dr. Gruber was qualified as an expert.
After reviewing the record we also conclude that the evidence was sufficiently complex so that an expert would be helpful to the jury's understanding of the evidence. Little case law exists in the area of sexual harassment based on the creation of an offensive, hostile and intimidating environment which allows the sexual conduct to exist. Further, sexual harassment can take many forms and is often very subtle. Here, Dr. Gruber illuminated for the jury the type of environment that existed in the defendant's plant and testified to the sexual connotations of several of the acts of which plaintiff complained.