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Kinne v. Rocky Mountain EMS, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Colorado

August 14, 2014

KAREN KINNE, TIM DILL, and ABRAHAM BACA, Individually and on behalf of others similarly situated Plaintiffs,
v.
ROCKY MOUNTAIN EMS, INC., D/B/A ROCKY MOUNTAIN MOBILE MEDICAL and RAYMOND GOETZE, Defendant.

ORDER CONCERNING MOTION TO EXCLUDE TESTIMONY OF PLAINTIFFS' DESGINATED EXPERT WITNESS PURSUANT TO FED. R. EVID. 702

ROBERT E. BLACKBURN, District Judge.

This matter is before me on Defendants' Opposed Motion To Exclude Testimony of Plaintiffs' Designated Expert Witness Pursuant to Fed.R.Evid. 702 [#69], [1]filed October 16, 2013. The plaintiffs filed a response [#70], and the defendants filed a reply [#74]. I deny the motion.

I. STANDARD OF REVIEW

The defendants seek to exclude the testimony of an expert witness designated by the plaintiffs. Rule 702 of the Federal Rules of Evidence, which governs the admissibility of expert witness testimony, 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 facts of the case.

FED. R. EVID. 702. As interpreted by the Supreme Court of the United States, Rule 702 requires that the testimony of an expert be both reliable, in that the witness is qualified to testify regarding the subject, and relevant, in that such testimony will assist the trier of fact in determining a fact in issue. Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579, 589-92 (1993); Truck Insurance Exchange v. MagneTek, Inc., 360 F.3d 1206, 1210 (10th Cir. 2004). The Supreme Court has described the role of a trial court in weighing expert opinions against these standards as that of a "gatekeeper." See Kumho Tire Company, Ltd. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137, 147 (1999).

Under Daubert and its progeny, an expert opinion is reliable if it is based on scientific knowledge. "The adjective scientific' implies a grounding in the methods and procedures of science. Similarly, the word knowledge' connotes more than subjective belief or unsupported speculation." Daubert, 590 U.S. at 590. In short, the touchstone of reliability is "whether the reasoning or methodology underlying the testimony is scientifically valid." Id. at 592-593; see also Truck Insurance Exchange, 360 F.3d at 1210. The party proffering the expert opinion must demonstrate both that the expert has employed a method that is scientifically sound and that the opinion is "based on facts which enable [the expert] to express a reasonably accurate conclusion as opposed to conjecture or speculation." Goebel v. Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad Co., 346 F.3d 987, 991 (10th Cir. 2003) (quoting Gomex v. Martin Marietta Corp., 50 F.3d 1511, 1519 (10th Cir. 1995)).

Rule 702 demands also that the opinion of an expert be relevant, that is, that the testimony "fit" the facts of the case. Daubert, 590 U.S. at 592; In re Breast Implant Litigation, 11 F.Supp.2d 1217, 1223 (D. Colo. 1998). "[T]he standard for fit is higher than bare relevance.'" In re Breast Implant Litigation, 11 F.Supp.2d at 1223 (quoting In re Paoli Railroad Yard PCB Litigation, 35 F.3d 717, 745 (3rd Cir. 1994), cert. denied, 513 U.S. 1190 (1995)). The proffered evidence must speak clearly and directly to an issue in dispute in the case. Id. Guided by these principles, the court has broad discretion in determining whether expert testimony is sufficiently reliable and relevant to be admissible. Truck Insurance Exchange, 360 F.3d at 1210; Smith v. Ingersoll-Rand Co., 214 F.3d 1235, 1243 (10th Cir. 2000). The overarching purpose of the court's inquiry is "to make certain that the expert... employs in the courtroom the same level of intellectual rigor that characterizes the practice of an expert in the relevant field." Goebel, 346 F.3d at 992 (quoting Kumho Tire Company, 526 U.S. at 152).

Generally, "rejection of expert testimony is the exception rather than the rule." U.S. v. Nacchio, 519 F.3d 1140, 1154 (10th Cir. 2008) (quoting Fed.R.Evid. 702, 2000 Advisory Comm.'s Notes). "Vigorous cross-examination, presentation of contrary evidence, and careful instruction on the burden of proof are the traditional and ...


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