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Ferrell v. BGF Global LLC

United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma

February 2, 2018

TRUDY FERRELL, individually and as personal representative of the ESTATE OF GREGORY FERRELL, deceased, Plaintiff,
v.
BGF GLOBAL, LLC, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          TIMOTHY D. DeGIUSTI UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is Defendants' Motion to Strike (Daubert), Motion in Limine and Brief in Support as to Plaintiff's Expert Ron Blevins [Doc. No. 105]. Plaintiff has filed her responses in opposition [Doc. Nos. 118, 120], and Defendants have replied [Doc. Nos. 121, 122]. The matter is fully briefed and at issue.

         BACKGROUND

         This action stems from an automobile accident in which Plaintiff's husband, Gregory, was killed when his car collided with a semi-truck driven by Defendant Lawrance Dildine. At the time of the accident, Dildine was employed as a truck driver for Defendant BGF Global, LLC (BGF). BGF has stipulated Dildine was acting within the scope of his employment when the accident occurred. In support of her claims against BGF and Dildine, Plaintiff retained accident reconstructionist Ron Blevins as an expert witness. Blevins is president of Blevins Enterprises, Inc. He has been involved in accident reconstruction for thirty years and served in the Oklahoma City Police Department (OCPD) for twenty-four years. While with the OCPD, Blevins supervised the Traffic Investigations Unit for eight years. During his time as an accident investigator, Blevins investigated thousands of traffic accidents. He has reconstructed accidents for district attorneys, provided extensive training to officers regarding traffic-related matters, and has testified in numerous state and federal cases.

         On April 6, 2017, Blevins provided his expert report with respect to the accident at issue. Defendants move to strike Blevins' report on the grounds that (1) his opinions do not assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue; (2) Blevins is unqualified to render many of the opinions, especially as they relate to digitally downloaded information; and (3) the opinions are unreliable.

         STANDARD

         Rule 702 of the Federal Rules of Evidence imposes upon the Court an important “gate-keeping” function with regard to the admissibility of expert opinions. It 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. In considering whether an expert's opinion is admissible, the Court performs a two-step analysis. First, the Court determines whether the expert is qualified by knowledge, skill, experience, training or education to render the opinion that the expert offers. Second, if the expert is so qualified, the Court must decide whether the expert's opinion is reliable under the principles set forth in the seminal cases of Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993) and Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137 (1999), and would assist the fact finder. 103 Investors I, L.P. v. Square D Co., 470 F.3d 985, 990 (10th Cir. 2006); Ralston v. Smith & Nephew Richards, Inc., 275 F.3d 965, 969 (10th Cir. 2001). “If expert testimony is not reliable under Daubert/Kumho, it is not admissible under Rule 702.” James River Ins. Co. v. Rapid Funding, LLC, 658 F.3d 1207, 1215 n. 1 (10th Cir. 2011).

         Courts have broad discretion in determining the admissibility of expert testimony. Taylor v. Cooper Tire & Rubber Co., 130 F.3d 1395, 1397 (10th Cir. 1997). A district court also has broad discretion to decide “how to assess an expert's reliability, including what procedures to utilize in making that assessment, as well as in making the ultimate determination of reliability.” Dodge v. Cotter Corp., 328 F.3d 1212, 1223 (10th ...


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