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Womack v. Conley

United States District Court, Sixth Circuit

November 8, 2013

DAX R. WOMACK, Plaintiff,
v.
MATT CONLEY; STEPHANIE CONLEY; CONNIE KNIGHT; ROBERT SHOULTZ; JASON KIRK; SCOTT INGRAM; DAVID CRAFTON;, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

THOMAS B. RUSSELL, Senior District Judge.

Defendants Kentucky State Police Captain Robert Shoultz and Kentucky State Police Sergeant Jason Kirk moves, pursuant to Federal Rule of Evidence 702, for an order to be entered prohibiting Dr. Paul McCauley from testifying at the trial of this matter. (Docket No. 88.) Defendant Matt Conley has filed a response in support of this motion. (Docket No. 93.) Plaintiff Womack has responded. (Docket No. 99.) Defendants Shoultz and Kirk have replied. (Docket No. 113.) This matter is now ripe for adjudication. The Court is granting Defendants' motions for summary judgment. To the extent Plaintiff may be relying on any testimony of Dr. McCauley to respond to those motions, the Court felt it should issue an opinion on this motion.

For the reasons that follow and consistent with the below opinion, this motion is GRANTED in part, as to portions of testimony embracing ultimate issues to be decided by the trier of fact and Court, and DENIED in part, as to testimony concerning Kentucky State Police General Orders and how the police practices/administration in this case compared to generally accepted practices.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Womack's only expert, Dr. Paul McCauley, seeks to testify against Defendants. Defendants argue that his testimony would not be relevant or reliable under Federal Rule of Evidence ("FRE") 702 and Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993). McCauley's report states that he will "render a professional opinion regarding the police operations and practices involving the above-referenced parties which resulted in the arrest of Dax R. Womack on April 9, 2010." (Docket No. 99-3, Page 2-3.) Specifically, he will testify a General Order applied and was violated, probable cause did not exist, Plaintiff's constitutional rights were violated, compare the police practices/administration in this case to generally accepted practices, and comment on the credibility of people involved in the case.

STANDARD

The admissibility of expert testimony is governed by Rule 702 of the Federal Rules of Evidence. Rule 702 provides:

A witness who is qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education may testify in the form of an opinion or otherwise 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.

In Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharm., Inc., "the Supreme Court established a general gatekeeping obligation for trial courts to exclude from trial expert testimony that is unreliable and irrelevant." Conwood Co. v. U.S. Tobacco Co., 290 F.3d 768, 792 (6th Cir. 2002) (alteration and internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting Hardyman v. Norfolk & W. Ry. Co., 243 F.3d 255, 260 (6th Cir. 2001) (applying Daubert, 509 U.S. 579, 597 (1993); Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137, 147-48 (1999))). The Court must determine whether evidence proffered under Rule 702 "both rests on a reliable foundation and is relevant to the task at hand." Daubert, 509 U.S. at 597. A key consideration is "whether the reasoning or methodology underlying the testimony is sufficiently valid." Id. at 592-93. The Supreme Court advises that the inquiry is "a flexible one, " and that "[t]he focus... must be solely on principles and methodology, not on the conclusions they generate." Id. at 594-95. A testifying expert must "employ[] in the courtroom the same level of intellectual rigor that characterizes the practice of an expert in the relevant field." Kumho Tire, 526 U.S. at 152. But Daubert did not impose any new standard, other than that already found in the Federal Rules of Evidence, for the admissibility of the testimony of nonscientific expert witnesses. See id.; see also United States v. Velasquez, 64 F.3d 844, 850 (3d Cir. 1995) (noting that Daubert did not impose a new standard other than what is already set out in the Federal Rules of Evidence "for the admissibility of the testimony of nonscientific experts such as... real estate appraisers"); United States v. Starzecpyzel, 880 F.Supp. 1027, 1040-41 (S.D.N.Y. 1995) (same).

Despite that there is no "definitive checklist or test" for meeting the standard of Rule 702, Daubert laid out a number of factors that typically "bear on the inquiry, " including: whether the theory or method in question "can be (and has been) tested, " whether it "has been subjected to peer review and publication, " whether it has a "known or potential rate of error, " and whether the theory or technique enjoys "general acceptance" in the "relevant scientific community." Daubert, 509 U.S. at 593-94. Although Daubert addressed scientific evidence, the Supreme Court in Kuhmo Tire Co. v. Carmichael held that a trial court may consider the Daubert factors for all types of expert evidence. Kumho Tire, 526 U.S. at 150. Thus, the Daubert factors are nonexhaustive and may not be ...


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