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Roach v. Hughes

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Owensboro Division

June 30, 2015

CHERYL ROACH and STEPHEN PHILIP ROACH, II, Plaintiffs,
v.
LAURA HUGHES, WARNER CHILCOTT, PLC, WARNER CHILCOTT SALES (US) LLC, and WHEELS, LT, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

JOSEPH H. McKINLEY, Jr., Chief District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on a motion in limine by Defendants, Laura Hughes, Warner Chilcott Sales (US) LLC, and Wheels, LT, to exclude the expert witness testimony of Laura Lampton [DN 24], a motion in limine by Defendants to limit the scope of the expert witness testimony of Dr. Randy Joe Cox [DN 25], a motion in limine by Plaintiffs, Cheryl Roach and Stephen Phillip Roach, II, to limit the scope of the expert witness testimony of Dr. David Shraberg [DN 29], and a motion in limine by Plaintiffs to limit the scope of the expert testimony of Dr. Kathleen Rodowicz [DN 45]. Fully briefed, these matters are ripe for decision. For the following reasons, the Motion to Exclude the Opinion Testimony of Laura Lampton is DENIED; the Motion to Limit the Scope of Dr. Randy Joe Cox's Opinion Testimony is DENIED; the Motion to Limit the Scope of Dr. David Shraberg's Opinion Testimony is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part; and the Motion to Limit the Scope of Dr. Kathleen Rodowicz's Opinion Testimony is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.

I. BACKGROUND

This case arises out of an automobile collision on November 7, 2012 between Plaintiff Cheryl Roach and Defendant Laura Hughes. Ms. Roach alleges personal injury as a result of the collision; specifically, she claims to have sustained traumatic brain injury, injury to the left brachial plexus, and other injuries. Plaintiff Stephen Philip Roach, II, joins in the action to assert a claim for loss of consortium. The case was originally filed in Daviess County Circuit Court, and Defendants removed the case on diversity jurisdiction grounds on December 23, 2013. (See Removal Notice [DN 1].)

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

The parties each seek to exclude or limit the opinion testimony of expert witnesses on the grounds that all or a portion of their opinions do not satisfy the standards of Federal Rule of Evidence 702 and Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993).

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.

Fed. R. Evid. 702. Under Rule 702, the trial judge acts as a gatekeeper to ensure that expert evidence is both reliable and relevant. Mike's Train House, Inc. v. Lionel, L.L.C., 472 F.3d 398, 407 (6th Cir. 2006) (citing Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137 (1999)). In determining whether testimony is reliable, the Court's focus "must be solely on principles and methodology, not on the conclusions that they generate." Daubert, 509 U.S. at 595. The Supreme Court has identified a non-exhaustive list of factors that may help the Court in assessing the reliability of a proposed expert's opinion. These factors include: (1) whether a theory or technique can be or has been tested; (2) whether the theory has been subjected to peer review and publication; (3) whether the technique has a known or potential rate of error; and (4) whether the theory or technique enjoys "general acceptance" within a "relevant scientific community." Id. at 592-94. This gatekeeping role is not limited to expert testimony based on scientific knowledge, but instead extends to "all scientific, ' technical, ' or other specialized' matters" within the scope of Rule 702. Kumho Tire, 526 U.S. at 147.

Whether the Court applies these factors to assess the reliability of an expert's testimony "depend[s] on the nature of the issue, the expert's particular expertise, and the subject of his testimony." Id. at 150 (citation and internal quotation mark omitted). Generally, any weakness in the underlying factual basis bears on the weight, as opposed to the admissibility, of the evidence. In re Scrap Metal Antitrust Litig., 527 F.3d 517, 530 (6th Cir. 2008).

III. DISCUSSION

Defendants seek to exclude or limit the opinion testimony of two individuals designated by Plaintiffs as expert witnesses: (1) Ms. Laura Lampton [DN 24] and (2) Dr. Randy Joe Cox [DN 25]. Plaintiffs seek to exclude or limit the opinion testimony of two individuals designated by Defendants as expert witnesses: (1) Dr. David Shraberg [DN 29] and (2) Dr. Kathleen Rodowicz [DN 45]. The Court addresses each motion in turn.

A. Laura Lampton [DN 24]

Defendants seek to exclude the expert opinions and testimony of Laura Lampton, R.N., B.S.N., C.R.R.N., C.N.L.C.P. Ms. Lampton is a registered nurse and certified life care planner hired by Plaintiffs to prepare a life care plan for Plaintiff Cheryl Roach. Ms. Lampton offers opinions regarding the future costs that Ms. Roach will likely incur as a result of the subject motor vehicle accident. Ms. Lampton bases these opinions, and the life care plan she developed for Ms. Roach, on the recommendations of medical providers regarding Ms. Roach's care, her own education, training, and experience, the resources available in the local community, the costs of those resources, and how treatments are provided. Defendants argue that Ms. Lampton's opinions and life care plan should be excluded because they do not meet any of the requirements for expert opinion testimony under Rule 702 and Daubert. The Court addresses each requirement in turn.

1. Qualifications

Defendants first argue that Ms. Lampton's testimony should be excluded because she is unqualified to testify regarding Ms. Roach's damages. Defendants contend that Ms. Lampton is unqualified because she "has no scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge in interpreting the prognoses of medical providers, in determining the cost of domestic servants, or in adding up columns of dollar figures." (Defs.' Reply Supp. Mot. Exclude Op. Test. of Laura Lampton [DN 41] 3.) Plaintiffs contend that Lampton is qualified as a life care planner, which is the specific field about which she proposes to testify. Plaintiffs cite Oaks v. Wiley Sanders Truck Lines, Inc., No. CIV.A. 07-45-KSF, 2008 WL 4180267 (E.D. Ky. Sept. 8, 2008), where the district court found that "Ms. Lampton is qualified to testify about life care plans by her education, training and experience." Id. at *4. Plaintiffs cite Ms. Lampton's qualifications as: a bachelor of science degree in nursing; certification as a Registered Nurse; certification as a Nurse Life Care Planner, through the American Association of Nurse Life Care Planners ("AANLCP"); numerous presentations on life care planning; and continuing education on life care planning. (See Pls.' Resp. to Defs.' Mot. Exclude Op. Test. of Laura Lampton [DN 34] 4-5.) Additionally, Plaintiffs cite Ms. Lampton's work at Vocational Economics, Inc., where she has worked for the past thirteen years, preparing approximately 700 to 800 life care plans and testifying in court approximately eighty to eighty-five times regarding life care plans that she has prepared. Based on her education, training, and experience, the Court finds that Ms. Lampton is qualified to provide expert opinion testimony about Plaintiff Cheryl Roach's life care plan and regarding the future costs of Ms. Roach's medical care and expenses. See Oaks, 2008 WL 4180267, at *4 (finding Ms. Lampton "qualified to testify about life care plans by her education, training and experience"); State Farm Fire & Cas. Co. v. Bell, 30 F.Supp. 3d 1085, 1108 n.8 (D. Kan. 2014) (finding same); see also M.D.P. v. Middleton, 925 F.Supp.2d 1272, 1275-76 (M.D. Ala. 2013) (finding life care planner qualified to provide testimony as to future care of injured plaintiff and cost of such care).

2. Relevance

Next, Defendants argue that Ms. Lampton's opinion testimony should be excluded as irrelevant. An issue for the jury to determine in this case is the amount of compensation that Plaintiff Cheryl Roach should recover for future medical care and expenses as a result of the subject accident. Defendants contend that Ms. Lampton's testimony is irrelevant because Ms. Lampton is "unable to discern between costs related to the accident and costs unrelated to the accident." (Defs.' Mem. Supp. Mot. Exclude Op. Test. of Laura Lampton [DN 24-1] 10-11.) The Court rejects this argument. Ms. Lampton's life care plan, as well as her deposition, shows that her opinions regarding the future medical needs and the cost of that care are related to the accident that is the subject of this action. Ms. Lampton reviewed the recommendations and opinions of multiple treating medical providers on the type and extent of medical care that Ms. Roach will require in the future, obtained the costs of such care in the local community, and developed opinions regarding an overall life care plan for Ms. Roach and the costs associated with such plan. The Court finds that Ms. Lampton's opinion testimony is relevant to the issue of damages and will assist the jury in determining the amount of future medical expenses.

3. Reliability

Defendants' primary contention is that Ms. Lampton's testimony should be excluded because it does not meet the requirements of "reliability" under Rule 702 and Daubert.

First, Defendants argue that Ms. Lampton's methodology does not meet the classic reliability factors such as having been tested, having been subject to peer review, and having an assessed rate of error. Plaintiffs respond that Defendants' argument is the exact type of analysis of Ms. Lampton's opinions that the Supreme Court condemned in Kumho Tire. As explained in Kumho Tire, the classic reliability factors are "helpful, not definitive." Id. at 151. The Sixth Circuit has stated that the "test of reliability is flexible, '" In re Scrap Metal, 527 F.3d at 529 (quoting Kumho Tire, 526 U.S. at 150), and "that the Daubert factors are not dispositive in every case' and should be applied only where they are reasonable measures of the reliability of expert testimony, '" id. (quoting Gross v. Commissioner, 272 F.3d 333, 339 (6th Cir. 2001)). Here, the factors relied upon by Defendants are not "reasonable measures" of the reliability of Ms. Lampton's methodology. Accordingly, those factors are not the measures that the Court applies to decide the reliability of Ms. Lampton's methodology and testimony.

The Court finds that the principles and methodology utilized in the life care planning field are reasonable measures of reliability of Ms. Lampton's methodology and opinions. See Block v. Woo Young Med. Co. Ltd., 937 F.Supp.2d 1028, 1048 (D. Minn. 2013); Oaks, 2008 WL 4180267, at *4. Ms. Lampton followed the standards of the AANLCP in developing Ms. Roach's life care plan and based her opinions on sufficient facts and data, including Ms. Roach's medical records, the opinions and recommendations of Ms. Roach's multiple treating medical providers, her consultation with Ms. Roach, and her own research on Ms. Roach's condition. Accordingly, the Court find that ...


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