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Bautista v. MVT Services, LLC

United States District Court, D. Colorado

December 7, 2017

CELEDONIO BAUTISTA, an individual, Plaintiff,
v.
MVT SERVICES, LLC, a Limited Liability Company, d/b/a Mesilla Valley Transportation Inc., and THOMAS M. ESTRADA, an individual, Defendants.

          ORDER ON MOTIONS TO EXCLUDE EXPERT

          NINA Y. WANG, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         This matter is before the court on three pretrial motions:

(1) Defendants' Motion to Exclude Expert Testimony of Robert Bess, M.D., Regarding Future Medical Treatment (“Motion to Exclude Dr. Bess”) [#99, filed July 18, 2017];
(2) Defendants' Motion to Exclude or Limit Expert testimony of Ann Stodola, P.E. (“Motion to Exclude Ms. Stodola”) [#100, filed July 18, 2017]; and
(3) Defendants' Motion to Exclude or Limit Expert Testimony of Roger Allen (“Motion to Exclude Mr. Allen”) [#101, filed July 18, 2017].

         The Motions are before the undersigned pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) and the Order of Reference dated July 22, 2016 [#30]. This court has reviewed the Motions and the associated briefs, the entire docket, and the applicable case law. In addition, the court held an evidentiary hearing on November 15, 2017, at which it considered the foundational issues raised by the Motion to Exclude Ms. Stodola. For the reasons set forth below, this court respectfully GRANTS IN PART and DENIES IN PART the Motion to Exclude Dr. Bess; GRANTS IN PART AND DENIES IN PART the Motion to Exclude Ms. Stodola; and GRANTS IN PART and DENIES IN PART the Motion to Exclude Mr. Allen.

         BACKGROUND

         This case arises from a motor vehicle collision that occurred on January 30, 2014, when a tractor-trailer truck driven by Defendant Thomas M. Estrada (“Defendant Estrada”), and owned by Defendant MVT Services, LLC d/b/a Mesilla Valley Transportation, Inc. (collectively, “MVT”), struck the tractor-trailer truck in which Plaintiff Celedonio Bautista (“Plaintiff” or “Mr. Bautista”) was riding. [#5]. Mr. Bautista contends that Mr. Estrada was traveling at an unsafe speed for the winter conditions and caused the collision. [Id. at ¶ 13]. Plaintiff alleges that as a result of the collision, he was thrown from his sleeper bed in the tractor-trailer and has suffered “serious and severe personal injuries, including … [suffering] a massive retracted tear of the rotator cuff which forced [him] to have surgery and will require further surgery in the future due to this collision.” [Id. at ¶¶ 15, 22]. Mr. Bautista originally filed this action in District Court for Boulder County, Colorado on April 6, 2016. [Id. at 1]. Defendants removed the case to the United States District Court on May 12, 2016. [#1].

         In his Complaint, Mr. Bautista asserts common law claims for negligence and negligence per se against Defendants and a claim for negligent entrustment against MVT.[1] See [#5]. On February 27, 2017, Defendants filed a Motion for Partial Summary Judgment as to the negligent entrustment claim and, on March 7 2017, supplemented the Motion with recently issued authority from the Colorado Supreme Court. See [#82, #83, #85]. The Parties then stipulated to the dismissal of the claim for negligent entrustment, leaving only the claims for negligence and negligence per se against both Defendants. See [#88, #89]. Mr. Bautista seeks both economic and non-economic damages, including past and future medical bills and healthcare costs, loss of future earnings, loss of earning capacity, loss of past and future benefits, and loss of household services, as well as for pain and suffering and emotional distress. He also seeks prejudgment and postjudgment interest and costs. [#5 at 8]. The court entered a Final Pretrial Order on May 3, 2017, and a Trial Preparation Order on May 19, 2017. A five day jury trial is set to commence on January 22, 2018. See [#95].

         On July 18, 2017, Defendants filed three separate motions to exclude expert testimony offered by three of Plaintiff's designated experts: Robert Bess, M.D. (“Dr. Bess”), Plaintiff's retained orthopedic surgeon [#99]; Anne Stodola, P.E. (“Ms. Stodola”), Plaintiff's retained professional engineer [#100]; and Roger Allen (“Mr. Allen”), Plaintiff's retained trucking industry expert [#101]. Plaintiff filed responses to each of the respective motions, see [#107, #108, #109], and Defendants filed replies, see [#110, #112, #111]. The court then scheduled an evidentiary hearing on the Motions that occurred on November 27, 2017 [#133] and December 4, 2017 [#138]. At the respective hearings, each of the experts testified, but no documentary evidence was admitted. The court took the matters under consideration and now turns to consider each separately.

         LEGAL STANDARDS

         Rule 702 of the Federal Rules of Evidence permits as follows:

         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.

         As noted by the Advisory Committee when the Rule was promulgated, “[a]n intelligent evaluation of facts is often difficult or impossible without the application of some scientific, technical, or other specialized ...


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