United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Greenville Division
BRENDA J. COOPER, et al. PLAINTIFFS
MERITOR, INC., et al. DEFENDANTS
M. BROWN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court in these consolidated cases are Meritor, Inc.,
Rockwell Automation Inc., and The Boeing Company's
motions to exclude the opinions and testimony of Dixie Clay
and Joe Parker. Doc. #540; Doc. #544.
consolidated cases involve claims for property damage arising
from decades of operation of a manufacturing facility
(“Facility”) in Grenada, Mississippi, by Meritor,
Inc., the Boeing Company, Rockwell Automation, Inc., and
Textron, Inc. The plaintiffs, all property owners or former
property owners of land in Grenada's Eastern Heights
subdivision (“Subdivision”), assert that the
defendants negligently operated the Facility and that such
negligence resulted in the contamination of the Subdivision.
The plaintiffs' amended complaint, which asserts claims
for fraud, civil conspiracy, negligence, nuisance, and
infliction of emotional distress, seeks recovery for numerous
damages including diminution of property values. Doc. #43 at
discovery, the plaintiffs produced the expert reports of two
appraisers, Dixie Clay and Joe Parker, who opined on the
unimpaired and actual values of the plaintiffs'
properties. Meritor, Boeing, and Rockwell (“Meritor
Defendants”) moved to exclude the testimony and
opinions of each in limine. Doc. #540; Doc. #544. Textron
joined both motions. Doc. #580; Doc. #581. Both motions have
been fully briefed.
Rule of Evidence 702 provides:
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
(d) the expert has reliably applied the principles and
methods to the facts of the case.
“district court has wide latitude when navigating the
expert-qualification process.” Williams v.
Manitowoc Cranes, L.L.C., 896 F.3d 607, 625 (5th Cir.
2018). “As long as there are sufficient indicia that an
individual will provide a reliable opinion on a subject, a
district court may qualify that individual as an
expert.” Id. (quotation marks omitted).
Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509
U.S. 579 (1993), a district court has a “special
obligation … to ensure that any and all scientific
testimony is not only relevant, but reliable.” Bear
Ranch, L.L.C. v. Heartbrand Beef, Inc., 885 F.3d 794,
802 (5th Cir. 2018) (internal alterations and quotation marks
omitted). “To establish reliability under
Daubert, an expert bears the burden of furnishing
some objective, independent validation of his
methodology.” Brown v. Ill. Cent. R.R. Co.,
705 F.3d 531, 536 (5th Cir. 2013) (internal alterations and
quotation marks omitted).
evaluating reliability, Daubert dictates that trial
courts should consider: (1) “the extent to which a
given technique can be tested;” (2) “whether the
technique is subject to peer review and publication; (3)
“any known potential rate of error, the existence and
maintenance of standards governing operation of the
technique; and (4) “whether the method has been
generally accepted in the relevant scientific
community.” Hathaway v. Bazany, 507 F.3d 312,
318 (5th Cir. 2007). The Daubert factors “are
not mandatory or exclusive.” Id. Rather, the
district court should consider whether the enumerated factors
“are appropriate, use them as a starting point, and
then ascertain if other factors should be considered.”
Id. (citing Black v. Food Lion, 171 F.3d
308, 311- 12 (5th Cir. 1999)).
addition to the specific factors enumerated in
Daubert, the Advisory Committee's Note to the
2000 Amendment to Rule 702 states that the following five
“factors remain relevant to the determination of the
reliability of expert testimony:”
(1) Whether experts are proposing to testify about matters
growing naturally and directly out of research they have
conducted independent of the litigation, or whether they have
developed their opinions expressly for purposes of
(2) Whether the expert has unjustifiably extrapolated from an
accepted premise to an ...