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Williams v. Hargrove

United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Southern Division

February 27, 2018

THEODORE WILLIAMS et al. PLAINTIFFS
v.
GARY HARGROVE et al. DEFENDANTS

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          KEITH STARRETT, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on the Motion to Exclude the Proposed Expert Testimony of Richard T. Campbell (“Motion to Exclude)[141] filed by Defendants Gary Hargrove, the Harrison County Board of Supervisors, and Harrison County, Mississippi. After considering the submissions of the parties, the record, and the applicable law, the Court finds that this motion is well taken and should be granted.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiffs Theodore Williams, Lockett Williams Mortuary, Inc., Ricky August, Lasha August, Jonathan August, Richmond-August Funeral Home, Inc., Eddie Hartwell, Hartwell & Family Funeral Home, LLC, Anthony Marshall, Gina Marshall, Marshall Funeral Home, Pamela Dickey, Dickey Brothers Memorial Funeral Home, LLC, Helen Evans, and J.T. Hall Funeral Home, Inc. (collectively “Plaintiffs”) are a group of funeral homes and their owners, all of whom are black and located in Harrison County. On July 18, 2016, Plaintiffs brought this action against Defendants Gary Hargrove (“Hargrove”), Harrison County Board of Supervisors (the “Board”), and Harrison County, Mississippi (the “County”) (collectively “Defendants”), alleging that Defendants discriminated against them by favoring the services of white-owned funeral homes over them. They bring federal claims under Title VI and 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981 and 1983, as well as multiple state law claims.

         Defendants filed their Motion to Exclude [141] challenging Dr. Richard T. Campbell (“Dr. Campbell”) on October 16, 2017. Dr. Campbell's expert opinion is based on a statistical analysis of several spreadsheets provided to him by Plaintiffs' counsel.

         Once briefing was complete on the Motion to Exclude [141], the Court ordered a hearing as to the admissibility of Dr. Campbell's expert testimony. (See Order [188].)[1] That hearing was held on February 7, 2018, and parties were given until February 14, 2018, to file supplemental briefing. After considering the arguments and evidence offered at the hearing and in the briefing, the Court is now ready to make its ruling.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Standard of Review

         The motion before the Court challenge the admissibility of expert testimony and opinions under Federal Rule of Evidence 702 and Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579, 113 S.Ct. 2786, 125 L.Ed.2d 469 (1993).

         The admissibility of expert testimony is governed by F.R.E. 702, which states:

         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 ...

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