This case generated seven – count ’em seven – motions to strike or limit expert testimony, five by the plaintiff and two by the defendant. The report and recommendation by Judge Giblin provides a really useful analysis into the admissibility on common categories of expert testimony.
Apparently experts are an issue in the black dirt part of the district as well, judging by these opinions from Judge Mazzant last week. They cover topics ranging from the “rebuttal” issue Judge Payne also addressed last week to lawyer-written reports, sick experts, and other more bespoke subjects.
Today saw one summary judgment ruling and five Dauberts roll out from the chambers downstairs across the street, making things about as busy downstairs this week as they were when this photo of Judge Payne’s future courtroom was taken in 1940-ish. So let’s take a quick look, shall we?
And now from the tart side of the menu, we have an order excluding an expert’s testimony as not based on sufficient qualifications only a couple of weeks before trial. No, no leave to submit an additional report was granted – didn’t you hear me describe it as “tart?” If leave had been granted I would have described it as creamy, with a hint of cinnamon and nut in the crust.
It was literally a dark and stormy night in Lavon, Texas when the plaintiff’s home, including allegedly the brick veneer, was damaged in a hailstorm/windstorm. The insurance claim that arose out of that storm generated a recent order granting only a wee bit of a motion to exclude an expert witness in the Sherman Division.
This order grants the parties’ competing motions to exclude each others’ foreign law “experts.” (Emphasis in original order). The Court’s opinion explains why this type of testimony is generally impermissible.
Motions to strike expert testimony usually attack multiple opinions by the expert, and orders not infrequently deny some, but not all of the grounds. This order provides an example of that … and oh so much more.
It’s expert testimony day around the Smith household today, as our oldest Grayson hits the witness stand as an “expert” witness in one of the Practice Court “big trials” at Baylor Law School in Waco. The grazing is pretty thin for students to act as witnesses in the summer so they’re willing to take a rising sophomore engineering student as an “expert metallurgist” to testify – in fact they advertised for them. I can relate. I did my big trial, also on a maritime theme, 27 years ago, and we had to bribe classmates “studying for the bar” to take an afternoon off from the pool to testify.
So Grayson is looking forward to spending this afternoon and a bit of tomorrow after his Calc 2 class lets out expounding on the defects in the iron rivets that were used in the construction of the Titanic, shown above on her building slip in Belfast.
Oddly, he’s been there – here he is with his brother Parker walking near the outline of Titanic’s bow at her building slip in the old Harland & Wolff shipyard in Belfast. And he’s built an arc furnace using parts of a dry cell battery, melts metal for fun, and cooks steaks with a blowtorch. So he’s going to be one of those “I know it all” experts, which should provide good experience for the students directing and crossing him. And he might learn a little humility (but I doubt it).
Of course there’s a related EDTX case involving experts and heat, which is the attached opinion from Judge Gilstrap last month declining to strike an expert’s opinion in a case involving the remodeling of genital tissue by applying heat to certain target tissue. The Court concluded that the expert’s opinions and testimony “are not contrary to the Court’s construction. To the extent Defendants disagree with [the expert’s] opinions, that disagreement can be adequately addressed via vigorous crossexamination and through the presentation of contrary evidence and expert testimony.”
Orders granting even part (sometimes especially ones granting only part) of motions to strike expert witnesses are always of interest to practitioners, since they provide guidance on which opinions are in and which are out.
This motion sought to exclude certain portions of a patent defendant’s infringement expert, and was granted, but only in part.
A couple of Daubert rulings today put me in mind of Ghostbusters. Remember the Gatekeeper and the Keymaster? Well, the outcome of these “gatekeeper” motions may or may not have been as catastrophic to the parties in these cases – it’s usually difficult to tell with the part in/ part out rulings – but as usual they do provide some insight into why some opinions are ruled in or out, and some useful guidance on which challenges are worth making and which aren’t..