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Estate of DiPiazza v. City of Madison

United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin

May 5, 2017

THE ESTATE OF ASHLEY DIPIAZZA, Plaintiff,
v.
THE CITY OF MADISON and JUSTIN BAILEY, GARY PIHLAJA, and CARY LEEREK, in their individual capacities, Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          WILLIAM M. CONLEY District Judge.

         This case is set for a jury trial beginning on May 15, 2017. In advance of the final pretrial conference scheduled for May 9, the court addresses plaintiff's Daubert motion to strike defendants' “police practices” expert Charles Huth (dkt. #87) under Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993). For the reasons set forth below, the court will grant that motion in part and deny it in part.

         I. Daubert Review

         “Determining the true facts of a case often requires ‘the application of some scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge.'” Lapsley v. Xtek, Inc., 689 F.3d 802, 808 (7th Cir. 2012) (quoting Fed.R.Evid. 702 advisory committee's note to 1972 proposed rules). 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 facts of the case.

         Fed. R. Evid. 702. The court's role under Rule 702 is to act as a “gatekeeper, ” ensuring that proffered expert testimony satisfies these requirements. Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137, 147 (1999).

         In exercising this gatekeeping role, the Seventh Circuit has condensed Rule 702 into a three-part analysis: the court must determine whether the purported expert witness is qualified; whether his or her methodology is reliable; and whether the testimony will assist the jury in deciding a relevant issue. Myers v. Ill. Cent. R. R. Co., 629 F.3d 639, 644 (7th Cir. 2010). Moreover, the proponent of expert testimony bears the burden of establishing it meets this three-prong test. Lewis v. CITGO Petroleum Corp., 561 F.3d 698, 705 (7th Cir. 2009).

         More specifically, the court first “must look at each of the conclusions he draws individually to see if he has the adequate education, skill, and training to reach them.” Hall v. Flannery, 840 F.3d 922, 926 (7th Cir. 2016) (quoting Gayton v. McCoy, 593 F.3d 610, 617 (7th Cir. 2010)). Extensive academic training, practical expertise, or professional or other experience are all proper bases from which a witness may draw specialized knowledge sufficient to qualify as an expert in a particular area. Smith v. Ford Motor Co., 215 F.3d 713, 718 (7th Cir. 2000). As to the second part of the gatekeeping analysis, “the test for reliability is necessarily flexible. Although Daubert identifies factors the court may consider when determining whether an expert's testimony is reliable-whether the expert's technique has been tested, subjected to peer review and publication, analyzed for known or potential error rate, or is generally accepted-the ‘list of specific factors neither necessarily nor exclusively applies to all experts or in every case.'” Estate of Robinson ex rel. Irwin v. City of Madison, No. 15-CV-502-JDP, 2017 WL 564682, at *8 (W.D. Wis. Feb. 13, 2017) (quoting Kumho Tire, 526 U.S. at 141). Finally, “expert evidence is relevant if it helps the jury understand a matter beyond the knowledge and experience of a layperson.” Id. (citing Daubert, 509 U.S. at 591-92).

         In performing its review, the court may not undertake to resolve disputed facts or make credibility determinations. The “Daubert inquiry is not designed to have the district judge take the place of the jury to decide ultimate issues of credibility and accuracy.” Lapsley, 689 F.3d at 805. At the same time, “[i]t is the role of the judge, not an expert witness, to instruct the jury on the applicable principles of law, and it is the role of the jury to apply those principles of law to the facts in evidence. As a general rule, accordingly, an expert may not offer legal opinions.” Jimenez v. City of Chicago, 732 F.3d 710, 721 (7th Cir. 2013).

         II. Policing ...


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