United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Knoxville
KENNETH KELLEY, as the son, next of kin and heir at law of JIMMY L. KELLEY, deceased, Plaintiff,
APRIA HEALTHCARE, INC., Defendant.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
case is before the undersigned pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
636, the Rules of this Court, and Standing Order 13-02.
before the Court is the Plaintiff's Motion to Exclude
Defendant's Expert Witnesses and/or Motion in Limine
Regarding Expert Testimony [Doc. 280]. The parties appeared
before the Court on December 21, 2016, for a motion hearing.
Attorney Dan Stanley appeared on behalf of the Plaintiff.
Attorneys Nathan Mauer and James Looper, Jr., appeared on
behalf of the Defendant. After considering the parties'
filings and the oral arguments, the Court finds that the
Plaintiff's Motion to Exclude Defendant's Expert
Witnesses and/or Motion in Limine Regarding Expert Testimony
[Doc. 280] is not well-taken, and it is DENIED.
original Complaint in this case was filed on February 20,
2013, and later amended [Doc. 182] on August 17, 2015. The
Fourth Amended Complaint stems from an incident occurring on
February 21, 2012, wherein a fire erupted in a traveling
camper killing the occupant. The decedent's son
originally brought suit against several companies that
manufactured and sold certain devices, including oxygen
regulators, that the decedent was allegedly using. The Fourth
Amended Complaint alleges that the Defendant provided several
of the devices to the decedent but failed to instruct him on
how to properly use such devices. In addition, the Plaintiff
alleges that the Defendant's oxygen devices leaked
to the instant action, the Plaintiff has moved to exclude the
POSITIONS OF THE PARTIES
mentioned above, the Plaintiff has moved to exclude two
witnesses offered by the Defendant: (1) Joseph T. Hannan,
M.D., and (2) Jerry Carter. The Court will first summarize
the parties' positions with respect to Dr. Hannan's
opinion and then turn to the parties' positions with
respect to Mr. Carter's opinions.
Hannan opined that the decedent experienced a significantly
diminished quality of life and that due to his medical
conditions, the decedent was at or nearing the end of his
life and would have died within, at best, a year to eighteen
(18) months had he not died in this incident. The Plaintiff
argues that Dr. Hannan is not qualified to give an opinion as
to the decedent's life expectancy and that his opinions
are not based on any scientific basis or facts and are mere
conjecture. With respect to Dr. Hannan's opinion on the
decedent's life expectancy, the Plaintiff states that Dr.
Hannan is a medical doctor but not a pulmonologist,
pathologist, or a forensic pathologist and does not have
expertise in such fields. The Plaintiff acknowledges that Dr.
Hannan has experience in hospice care but submits that the
decedent was not a hospice patient. The Plaintiff avers that
an expert in internal medicine, geriatrics, or hospice care
should not be qualified to opine on life expectancy. The
Plaintiff states that any prediction as to a specific life
expectancy for a person would be conjecture.
addition, the Plaintiff argues that Dr. Hannan was unable to
provide any type of scientific or other reliable basis for
his opinions. The Plaintiff states that when asked about his
opinion, Dr. Hannan seemed to rely upon his review of the
medical records regarding the decedent's lung capacity.
The Plaintiff submits that Dr. Hannan acknowledged that his
prediction was not based on any modeling, case studies, or
peer-reviewed methods that would allow him to quantify the
eighteen-month life expectancy.
respect to Dr. Hannan's opinion regarding the
decedent's diminished life quality, the Plaintiff submits
that the opinion is not helpful to the jury. The Plaintiff
states that the medical records speak for themselves. In the
alternative, the Plaintiff requests that Dr. Hannan be
prevented from testifying as to the decedent's life
Defendant responds that Dr. Hannan has been practicing
medicine since 1978 and was formerly board certified as an
Internist. The Defendant submits that Dr. Hannan has
practiced in pediatrics, internal medicine, geriatrics, and
hospice care for over 40 years and that he has served as a
medical director for numerous long-term care and hospice
facilities. The Defendant argues that Dr. Hannan has
significant experience in taking care of individuals with
terminal illnesses, including patients with long-term
diseases, such as COPD and patients receiving oxygen. The
Defendant states that Dr. Hannan is qualified to reach a
prognosis regarding the decedent's illness at the time of
his death and his remaining life expectancy. The Defendant
argues that Dr. Hannan's method in forming a prognosis
was based on his review of the decedent's medical history
and condition prior to the time of his death and his
understanding of and experience in treating patients with
similar diseases, in similar stages.
Plaintiff submits that Mr. Carter is a qualified fire
investigator, who opined that the cause of fire could not be
determined because none of the potential causes could be
indicated or eliminated. The Plaintiff states that Mr. Carter
listed seven potential causes of the fire, but there is no
evidence to support any of these potential causes, except the
presence of a space heater. The Plaintiff states that five of
the seven listed potential causes involve the failure of some
device or the camper's electrical system, but there is no
evidence in this case that anything failed. In addition, the