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Clark v. Lard Oil Company, Inc.

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

September 11, 2019

RAMSAY CLARK, PLAINTIFF
v.
LARD OIL COMPANY, INC. and ACM TRANSPORTATION, LLC and JOHN DOES 1-10, DEFENDANTS.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          KEITH STARRETT, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This cause comes before the Court on the Motion to Exclude Expert Opinions of Bruce Brawner [86] filed by Defendants, Lard Oil Company, Inc. and ACM Transportation, LLC, wherein Defendants argue that Brawner's opinions should be excluded pursuant to Federal Rule of Evidence 702 and the standard for the admissibility of expert testimony articulated in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharm., Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993). Plaintiff has filed an Amended Response [124], and Defendants replied [126]. Having reviewed the parties' submissions, the relevant legal authority, and otherwise being fully advised in the premises, the Court finds the motion will be denied.

         I. BACKGROUND

         This action arises out of a June 6, 2016 automobile accident involving a tanker truck driven by an employee of ACM Transportation who caused a four-car pileup on Old Highway 11 in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Plaintiff allegedly suffered multiple injuries as a result of the accident. Liability has been conceded, and thus, the only issue remaining is damages. Dr. Dinesh Goel was retained to make an examination of Plaintiff before suit was filed in order to treat, if necessary, or otherwise to make a report on the condition of the Plaintiff for settlement purposes. [98] at p. 1. Dr. Goel saw Plaintiff on three occasions: September 18, 2017, November 9, 2017; and November 30, 2017. [84-5] 9:18-19; 17:14-16; 9:6-17. Upon the final visit, Dr. Goel drafted a document dated September 30, 2017 titled Follow Up Visit/Expert letter, in which states, among other things, that “Patient [Plaintiff] is advised not to lift more than 20 pounds because he has multiple herniated disc [sic] in the neck and bulging discs with pain in the lower back and if he does the discs will herniate further and it will get worse.” [85-5] 9:12-17; [84-1] at p. 2.

         In support of his damages claim, Plaintiff retained Dr. Bruce Brawner to provide opinions and reports in the following three areas: future employability (Vocational Rehabilitation Evaluation [86-3]), loss of household services (Vocational Evaluation of Household Services [86-8]); and cost of future medical services (Medical Cost Analysis [86-9]). Dr. Brawner utilized the medical evaluations of Dr. Goel, a Dr. David Lee, and a Dr. Howard Katz, which included Dr. Goel's opinion regarding the 20-pound weightlifting restriction, to come up with three alternative scenarios when opining about future employment and lost wages and loss of household services. [84-2] at pp. 2, 6, 8. Defendants now seek to preclude Brawner's testimony in several areas that will be discussed below.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Legal Standard for Expert Witness Testimony

         The admission or exclusion of expert witness testimony is a matter that is left to the discretion of the district court. Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137, 152 (1999); see Huss v. Gayden, 571 F.3d 442, 452 (5th Cir. 2009), cert. denied, 130 S.Ct. 1892 (2010); Nano-Proprietary, Inc. v. Canon, Inc., 537 F.3d 394, 399 (5th Cir. 2008). Federal 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 methods; and
(d) the expert has reliably applied the principles and methods to the ...

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