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Leftridge v. Speedway LLC

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division

October 10, 2019

TAYELL LEFTRIDGE, Plaintiff,
v.
SPEEDWAY LLC, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          JOHN E. MARTIN MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on Speedway's Motion to Exclude Testimony from Plaintiff's Expert H. Richard Hicks, P.E. [DE 26], filed by Defendant on August 23, 2019. Defendant seeks to exclude portions of the testimony of Plaintiff's expert, H. Richard Hicks. Plaintiff filed a belated response on September 19, 2019, see N.D. Ind. L.R. 7-1(d)(3), and on September 26, 2019, Defendant filed a reply.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff Tayell Leftridge filed her Complaint on February 21, 2017, in state court, alleging that Defendant Speedway is liable for injuries she suffered when she slipped and fell on a wet floor at one of their stores in Hobart, Indiana. The case was removed to this Court on February 15, 2018, on the basis of diversity jurisdiction.

         Plaintiff designated H. Richard Hicks, a professional engineer, as an expert witness. He investigated the incident and prepared a report detailing his findings. Defendant now seeks to have much of his testimony excluded from presentation at trial.

         The parties filed forms of consent to have this case assigned to a United States Magistrate Judge to conduct all further proceedings and to order the entry of a final judgment in this case. Therefore, this Court has jurisdiction to decide this case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c).

         II. Analysis

         The admissibility of expert testimony is governed by Federal Rule of Evidence 702 and the standards set forth by the United States Supreme Court in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993). See Ervin v. Johnson & Johnson, Inc., 492 F.3d 901, 904 (7th Cir. 2007). Rule 702 provides that courts should admit expert testimony 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 (emphasis added).

         Defendant contends that Hicks's opinion will not assist the trier of fact in this case because the subject of his testimony, the idea that a wet floor may present a slipping hazard, is within the understanding of the average juror, and the concepts of mopping safety are common sense. It argues that Hicks's opinions do not come from specialized knowledge, but merely from the common understanding that a floor may be slippery when wet, and that slippery floors may present a fall hazard. Defendant argues that the testimony therefore will not help the jury understand the evidence ...


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