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Garrett v. City of Tupelo

United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Aberdeen Division

June 14, 2018

BRANDON GARRETT PLAINTIFF
v.
CITY OF TUPELO, MISSISSIPPI DEFENDANT

          ORDER

          DEBRA M. BROWN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This employment discrimination action is before the Court on the City of Tupelo's “Motion in Limine (Daubert).” Doc. #46.

         I Procedural History

         On November 1, 2016, Brandon Garrett filed a complaint in this Court against the City of Tupelo, Mississippi. Doc. #1. The complaint alleges that Garrett suffers from hypersensitivity to mold and that the City is liable for damages under the Americans with Disabilities Act for, among other things, failing to transfer Garrett to a mold-free facility.

         On November 8, 2017, following a period of discovery, the City filed a “Motion in Limine (Daubert)” seeking to exclude under Federal Rules of Evidence 702, 703, and 704, Garrett's medical records from the Maxwell Clinic. Doc. #46. Garrett responded in opposition to the motion, Doc. #50, and the City replied, Doc. #55.

         After considering the filings and relevant arguments, the Court directed supplemental briefing on two issues: (1) whether the rules governing admissibility of expert opinions apply to opinions contained in business records, such as medical records, otherwise admissible under Federal Rule of Evidence 803(6); and (2) whether in light of the arguments raised in the Daubert motion, the challenged opinions in Garrett's medical records lack trustworthiness within the meaning of Rule 803(6)(E). Doc. #64. The parties filed supplemental briefs as directed. Doc. #66; Doc. #67.

         II Analysis

         The City's motion seeks to exclude Garrett's medical records from the Maxwell Clinic because the opinions contained in the records are unreliable under Rule 702's Daubert standard. Doc. #46 at 1. Its supplemental brief seeks exclusion of the same records as unreliable under Daubert, and as untrustworthy under Federal Rule of Evidence 803(6). Doc. #66 at 2, 4. In his supplemental response, Garrett states that he does not intend to submit a December 17, 2015, letter from David H. Haase, MD, which was originally included in the medical records and specifically referenced in the City's motion. Doc. #67 at 5. Garrett, however, argues that the remaining portions of the medical records are admissible. See id. at 1-5.

         As an initial matter, the City cites no authority for the proposition that inclusion of certain inadmissible opinions renders an entire document, or collection of documents, inadmissible. To the contrary, “portions of a report, or a redacted copy of a report, may be admitted into evidence where the report contains inadmissible evidence.” Beechwood Restorative Care Ctr. v. Leeds, 856 F.Supp.2d 580, 589 (W.D.N.Y. 2012) (collecting cases). Accordingly, even if the Court were to find the challenged opinions here to be inadmissible, the proper remedy would be exclusion of such opinions (and redaction at trial), not exclusion of the records as a whole. Therefore, the City's motion to exclude the entirety of the medical records will be denied.

         Turning to the challenged opinions, references to mold in Garrett's medical records may be classified into one of four categories: (1) statements in Garrett's medical history that he was exposed to mold, see, e.g., Doc. #67-1 at 3; (2) statements in Garrett's medical history that he suffers from a mold allergy or sensitivity, see, e.g., id. at 5; (3) assessments that Garrett was exposed to mold, see, e.g., id. at 6; and (4) diagnoses that Garrett suffered from a mold infection, see, e.g., id. at 11. Of these four types of references, statements in the first and second categories are not opinions and, therefore, are not implicated by the City's motion.[1] Thus, only the third and fourth categories bear discussion here as implicated by the City's motion.

         A. Admissibility Standard

         Federal Rule of Evidence 803(6), which governs the admissibility of business records, provides that:

         A record of an act, event, condition, opinion, or diagnosis [are not excluded by the rule against hearsay] if:

(A) the record was made at or near the time by--or from information transmitted by--someone with knowledge;
(B) the record was kept in the course of a regularly conducted activity of a business, organization, occupation, or ...

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