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Bales v. Green

United States District Court, N.D. Oklahoma

March 26, 2018

KAYLA BALES, Plaintiff,
v.
RICHARD GREEN and SERVICE TRANSPORT COMPANY, Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          GREGORY K. FRIZZELL CHIFE JUDGE.

         This matter comes before the court upon the Motion to Exclude Testimony (Daubert) and Brief in Support with Respect to Plaintiff's Expert, Robert Weims Painter, Jr. [Doc. #98');">98] of defendants Service Transport Company and Richard Green. For the reasons discussed below, the motion is granted in part and denied in part.

         I. Background

         On January 2');">2');">2');">29, 2');">2');">2');">2014, a vehicle operated by plaintiff collided with a semi-truck operated by defendant Green on West 2');">2');">2');">21st Street in Tulsa County, Oklahoma. [Doc. #2');">2');">2');">20, p. 2');">2');">2');">2(IV)(C)]. At the time of the collision, Green was employed by defendant Service Transport and acting within the scope of his employment. [Id.]. Plaintiff initiated litigation in the District Court of Tulsa County, Oklahoma, and the case was removed to this court on February 2');">2');">2');">22');">2');">2');">2, 2');">2');">2');">2016. Plaintiff's original state court Petition asserted three causes of action: (1) automobile negligence, (2');">2');">2');">2) respondeat superior, and (3) negligence per se. [Doc. #2');">2');">2');">2-1].[1]

         Plaintiff retained Robert W. Painter, Jr., of the firm Stratton, Moore & Painter, as an accident reconstructionist. On October 2');">2');">2');">2, 2');">2');">2');">2017, Painter submitted to counsel a written report that included four formal opinions: (1) Green made an improper turn from the wrong lane; (2');">2');">2');">2) Green made an improper right turn; (3) Green was improperly backing; and (4) Green was over his allotted time for duty status driving. [Doc. #98');">98-2');">2');">2');">2, p. 8]. In the Motion to Exclude, defendants seek to preclude Painter's testimony for two reasons: (1) Painter's report does not satisfy the requirements of Fed.R.Civ.P. 2');">2');">2');">26(a)(2');">2');">2');">2); and (2');">2');">2');">2) Painter's testimony does not satisfy the Daubert standard.

         II. Standard

         Pursuant to Federal Rule of Evidence 702');">2');">2');">2, [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.

         Rule 702');">2');">2');">2 imposes on the trial court an important gate-keeping obligation, “to ‘ensure that any and all [expert] testimony . . . is not only relevant, but reliable.” Kumho Tire Co., Ltd. v. Carmichael, 2');">2');">2');">26 U.S. 137');">52');">2');">2');">26 U.S. 137, 147 (1999) (quoting Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharms., Inc., 509 U.S. 578, 590 (1993)). Thus, “the trial judge must determine whether the testimony has ‘a reliable basis in the knowledge and experience of [the relevant] discipline.'” Kumho Tire Co., Ltd., 52');">2');">2');">26 U.S. at 149 (quoting Daubert, 509 U.S. at 592');">2');">2');">2).

         “To determine whether an expert's opinion is admissible, the district court must undertake a two-step analysis.” Mathis v. Huff & Puff Trucking, Inc., 787 F.3d 12');">2');">2');">297, 1307 (10th Cir. 2');">2');">2');">2015). “First, the court must determine whether the expert is ‘qualified' by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education' to render an opinion.” Id. (quoting Fed.R.Evid. 702');">2');">2');">2). “Second, ‘the court must determine whether the expert's opinion is reliable by assessing the underlying reasoning and methodology, as set forth in Daubert.'” Id.

         In addition, under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 2');">2');">2');">26(a)(2');">2');">2');">2), “a party must disclose to the other parties the identity of any witness it may use at trial to present evidence under Federal Rule of Evidence 702');">2');">2');">2, 703, or 705.” The disclosure must also be ...


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