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Lauderdale v. Russell

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

December 26, 2019




         This matter is before the Court on a Motion in Limine to Exclude Plaintiff's Experts filed by Defendants William Russell, Thomas Williams, Devon Clark, and Jeremy Street (“Defendants”). (Filing No. 143.) Plaintiff Lamone Lauderdale (“Lauderdale”) has disclosed four witnesses that he intends to qualify as experts at trial. (Filing No. 143-1.) Defendants ask the Court to exclude those experts from testifying at trial. For the following reasons, Defendants' Motion is granted.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The facts of this case are set forth at length in the Court's Entry on Defendants' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment. (Filing No. 139.) In summary, while incarcerated in the Marion County Jail, Lauderdale alleges he was assaulted by the Defendants, all of whom are Marion County Sheriff Deputies, and that he was retaliated against and denied proper medical treatment. This matter is scheduled for trial by jury on February 3, 2020 on Lauderdale's claims of excessive force and deliberate indifference.


         “[J]udges have broad discretion in ruling on evidentiary questions during trial or before on motions in limine.” Jenkins v. Chrysler Motors Corp., 316 F.3d 663, 664 (7th Cir. 2002). The court excludes evidence on a motion in limine only if the evidence clearly is not admissible for any purposes. See Hawthorne Partners v. AT&T Technologies, Inc., 831 F.Supp. 1398, 1400 (N.D. Ill. 1993). Unless evidence meets this exacting standard, evidentiary rulings must be deferred until trial so questions of foundation, relevancy, and prejudice may be resolved in context. Id. at 1400-01. Moreover, denial of a motion in limine does not necessarily mean that all evidence contemplated by the motion is admissible; rather, it only means that, at the pretrial stage, the court is unable to determine whether the evidence should be excluded. Id. at 1401.

         Federal Rule of Evidence 702 governs testimony of expert witnesses. An expert may testify regarding the ultimate issue in a case. Fed.R.Evid. 704(a). Furthermore, an expert can base her opinion on inadmissible evidence. Fed.R.Evid. 703. However, “expert testimony as to legal conclusions that will determine the outcome of the case is inadmissible.” Good Shepherd Manor Found., Inc. v. City of Momence, 323 F.3d 557, 564 (7th Cir. 2003).

         Under the gatekeeping requirement set forth in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993), “the district court has a duty to ensure that expert testimony offered under Federal Rule of Evidence 702 is both relevant and reliable.” Jenkins v. Bartlett, 487 F.3d 482, 488-89 (7th Cir. 2007) (citing Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137, 147 (1999)). “Whether proposed expert testimony is sufficiently reliable under Rule 702 is dependent upon the facts and circumstances of the particular case.” Id. at 489. The court is given “latitude in determining not only how to measure the reliability of the proposed expert testimony but also whether the testimony is, in fact, reliable.” Gayton v. McCoy, 593 F.3d 610, 616 (7th Cir. 2010) (citing Jenkins, 487 F.3d at 489).

         In determining reliability, the court will “consider the proposed expert's full range of experience and training in the subject area, as well as the methodology used to arrive at a particular conclusion.” Id. Additionally, the district court must determine whether the proposed expert testimony will assist the trier of fact in determining a fact in issue or understanding the evidence. Chapman v. Maytag Corp., 297 F.3d 682, 687 (7th Cir. 2002). “Determinations on admissibility should not supplant the adversarial process; ‘shaky' expert testimony may be admissible, assailable by its opponents through cross-examination.” Gayton, 593 F.3d at 616.

Vigorous cross examination, presentation of contrary evidence and careful jury instructions … are the traditional and appropriate means of attacking shaky but admissible evidence. The rejections of expert testimony is the exception rather than the rule, and the trial court's role as gatekeeper is not intended to serve as a replacement for the adversary system.

Richman v. Sheahan, 415 F.Supp.2d 929, 934 (N.D. Ill. 2006) (citations and quotation marks omitted).


         On April 15, 2019, Lauderdale served the Defendants with his expert disclosure, naming four expert witnesses. (Filing No. 143-1.) All four are medical professionals who personally treated Lauderdale prior to, during, or after his incarceration. Defendants argue that Lauderdale failed to comply with the disclosure requirements set forth in Rule 26(a)(2), and thus the Court should bar the witnesses from giving expert testimony at trial. (Filing No. 144.) Defendants do not dispute that the four witnesses-Donna J. Purviance, NP; Mytrice E. Macon, MD; Kristin Roth, DPT; and Dr. Person-would be appropriate fact witnesses, they only object to the witnesses offering expert medical testimony. Id. at 3 (n. 1).

         A. Federal Rule of ...

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