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Richards v. Dugger

United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Chattanooga

November 5, 2019

DANNY D. RICHARDS, Plaintiff,
v.
RODERICK J. DUGGER and UNITED ROAD SERVICES, INC., Defendants.

          Lee Magistrate Judge

          MEMORANDUM

          CURTIS L. COLLIER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This case arises from a rear-end collision involving Plaintiff's van and Defendants' tractor-trailer. Defendants have moved to exclude the testimony of Plaintiff's treating physician and medical expert, Dr. Barry Vaughn, pursuant to Federal Rule of Evidence 702. (Doc. 65.) Defendants contend Dr. Vaughn's testimony should be excluded because (1) Dr. Vaughn stated he was not serving as an expert witness in his deposition; (2) Dr. Vaughn did not examine any relevant documents aside from the medical records and was not aware of any facts relating to the accident; (3) Dr. Vaughn's report lacks a method of reasoning for how he concluded the collision caused Plaintiff's injury; (4) Dr. Vaughn failed to connect his experience to his conclusions; and (5) Dr. Vaughn failed to account for other possible causes of Plaintiff's injuries. (Id.) As a result, Defendants assert the report does not comply with Rule 26(a) and should be excluded. (Id.) In response, Plaintiff asserts Dr. Vaughn is qualified as an expert under 702 and, while the report could have been more detailed, it still satisfies the Rule 26 requirements. (Doc. 78.) Plaintiff then contends that even if Dr. Vaughn's report is technically deficient, exclusion would not be appropriate because any failure to disclose was harmless and did not prejudice Defendants. (Id.) Defendants have replied. (Doc. 83.) The Court finds a hearing on this motion is unnecessary. For the reasons set out below, the Court will DENY Defendants' motion.

         I. APPLICABLE LAW

         Under Federal Rule of Evidence 702, a witness with sufficient knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education may testify in the form of an opinion if:

(a) the expert's scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will help the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue;
(b) the testimony is based on sufficient facts or data;
(c) the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods; and (d) the expert has reliably applied the principles and methods to the facts of the case.

         Fed. R. Evid. 702.

         In fulfilling its gatekeeping role, a court must first determine if an expert's testimony is reliable and then determine if it is relevant. Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharm., Inc., 509 U.S. 579, 589 (1993). “[T]he gatekeeping inquiry must be tied to the facts of a particular case . . . depending on the nature of the issue, the expert's particular expertise, and the subject of his testimony.” Kumho Tire Co., Ltd. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137, 150 (1999) (internal quotations omitted). Further, “[i]t is the proponent of the testimony that must establish its admissibility by a preponderance of proof.” Nelson v. Tenn. Gas Pipeline Co., 243 F.3d 244, 251 (6th Cir. 2001) (citing Daubert, 509 U.S. at 592 n.10).

         The Supreme Court in Daubert set out a flexible, non-definitive checklist to consult in evaluating reliability: (1) whether the expert's theory can be tested; (2) whether the theory has been subject to peer review and publication; (3) the theory's known error rate; and (4) whether the theory has been generally accepted. See Daubert, 509 U.S. at 593-94. Courts have also noted other relevant factors that may arise, including: whether the opinions were developed solely for purposes of litigation, Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharm., Inc., 43 F.3d 1311, 1317 (9th Cir. 1995), whether there is too great an analytical gap between the data and the expert opinion, Gen. Elec. Co. v. Joiner, 522 U.S. 136, 147 (1997), and whether the expert has accounted for obvious alternative explanations, Ambrosini v. Labarraque, 101 F.3d 129, 140 (D.C. Cir. 1996).

         In addition to determining reliability, a court must ensure the expert's testimony is relevant. Often referred to as “fit, ” an expert's testimony is relevant if the testimony would be helpful to the jury in resolving disputed issues. Daubert, 509 U.S. at 591.

         If an expert witness was retained or employed to provide expert testimony in the case or is an employee whose duties regularly involve providing expert testimony, then the expert's disclosure must be accompanied by a ...


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