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FERRIS v. PENN. FED. BROTHERHOOD OF MAINT.

July 20, 2001

SEAN DALY FERRIS AND NICHOLAS R. GUARNIERI, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
PENNSYLVANIA FEDERATION BROTHERHOOD OF MAINTENANCE OF WAY EMPLOYEES, JED DODD, DON TREDENT, CHUCK BURKINDINE, CHARLES HANSLER, GERRY HUGGLER, PERRY RAPIER, WAYDE AMES, TOM HUDSON, ANTHONY ROCHON, KEVIN HUSSEY, WILLIAM MANNING, RANDY CALDWELL, GEORGE DAVIDSON, ROBERT E. LININGER, JOSEPH CRANDLEY, AND JOSEPH H. LOVE, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Jan E. Dubois, J.

  MEMORANDUM

This case involves a dispute arising out of the election of the General Chairman of the Pennsylvania Federation Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees ("the Federation") in 1999 and subsequent elimination of plaintiffs' positions in the Federation. Plaintiffs Sean Daly Ferris ("Ferris") and Nicholas R. Guarnieri ("Guarnieri") allege that defendants conspired with others to amend the Federation's Constitution and By-Laws to eliminate plaintiffs' Vice-Chairman positions in retaliation for plaintiffs' support of a candidate who opposed defendant Jed Dodd ("Dodd"), General Chairman of the Federation, in the 1999 Federation election. This action, alleging violations of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act ("LMRDA"), followed.

I. BACKGROUND

In April, 1999, Ferris was nominated for re-election to a four-year term as Vice-Chairman of the Federation for District 8; since no other member of the Federation was nominated to oppose him, he was designated for a four-year term starting September 1, 1999. Guarnieri was elected in June, 1999 for a four-year term as Vice-Chairman for District 9. On August 9, 1999, at the Convention of the Federation, the Federation Constitution and By-Laws were amended to eliminate the two Vice-Chairman positions for Districts 8 and 9. As a result, Dodd, who served as General Chairman of the Federation at all times relevant to this action, refused to install Ferris and Guarnieri to their Vice-Chairman positions. The other individual defendants were all members of the Federation's Joint Protective Board, a Federation governing body, when the incidents that gave rise to this action occurred.

Plaintiffs allege that defendants conspired to retaliate against them in violation of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act ("LMRDA"), 29 U.S.C. § 401, et seq., for their support of Paul Dominic, a candidate who opposed Dodd in the 1999 General Chairman election.

As a result of this allegedly unlawful retaliation, plaintiffs Ferris and Guarnieri claim to have suffered a number of psychological and physical injuries. In connection with these alleged injuries, plaintiffs seek to admit the testimony of two experts, Dr. Joseph Fred Stoner ("Dr. Stoner") and psychologist Andrew C. Santora, Ed. D. ("Dr. Santora"). Defendants filed an amended motion in limine*fn1 under Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993) ("Daubert") and its progeny to exclude certain testimony, namely, (1) certain testimony by Dr. Santora; (2) any testimony by Dr. Stoner; (3) any evidence as to causation of mental or physical injuries allegedly suffered by both plaintiffs and any treatment of said injuries; and (4) any evidence as to necessity and cost of certain medical treatment. It is that motion that the Court addresses in this Memorandum.

Upon concluding that there were underlying factual questions as to the admissibility of Dr. Stoner's and Dr. Santora's testimony — specifically, their respective qualifications and the bases for their diagnoses and analysis — the Court held a Daubert hearing on June 22, 2001. See Oddi v. Ford Motor Co., 234 F.3d 136, 155 (3d Cir. 2000) (explaining that a Daubert hearing is necessary where a court can "not determine what methodology the expert used, and the reliability of the expert's conclusion could not therefore be established"); see generally Padillas v. Stork-Gamco, Inc., 186 F.3d 412, 417 (3d Cir. 1999) (stressing the importance of in limine hearings under Rule 104(a) in making the reliability determination required under Rule 702) (citing United States v. Downing, 753 F.2d 1224, 1241 (3d Cir. 1985)).

The Court will first evaluate the admissibility of the proffered expert testimony under Daubert and the question whether a plaintiff may testify as to diagnosis and causation of mental conditions such as depression and anxiety disorder in the absence of expert testimony. The Court will then turn to the actual injury requirement under the LMRDA and examine the question whether any evidence of plaintiffs' injuries may be presented to the jury in the absence of expert medical testimony. Finally, the Court will determine the admissibility of evidence of the necessity and cost of certain medical treatment. For the following reasons, defendants' motion will be granted in part and denied in part.

II. DISCUSSION

A. Expert Testimony Under Daubert

Federal Rule of Evidence 702, as amended December 1, 2000, provides as follows:

If scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue, a witness qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education, may testify thereto in the form of an opinion or otherwise, if (1) the testimony is based upon sufficient facts or data, (2) the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods, and (3) the witness has applied the principles and methods reliably to the facts of the case.

Under Rule 702, when "[f]aced with a proffer of expert scientific testimony . . . the trial judge must determine at the outset, pursuant to Rule 104(a), whether the expert is proposing to testify to (1) scientific knowledge that (2) will assist the trier of fact to understand or determine a fact in issue." Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579, 592 (1993) (footnotes omitted). It is well settled that the gatekeeping role established in Daubert under Rule 702 is not limited to scientific testimony — the Daubert approach applies to all cases where the "testimony reflects scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge." Kumho Tire Co., Ltd. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137, 141 (1999). This approach helps to ensure the reliability of expert testimony, which "can be both powerful and quite misleading because of the difficulty in evaluating it." Daubert, 509 U.S. at 595 (quoting Jack B. Weinstein, Rule 702 of the Federal Rules of Evidence is Sound; It Should Not Be Amended, 138 F.R.D. 631, 632 (1991)).

Under Daubert, the Court must engage in a two-step inquiry. "First of all, the proffered `expert' must be qualified to express an expert opinion. . . . Secondly, the proffered expert opinion must be reliable." In re TMI Litig., 193 F.3d 613, 663 (3d Cir. 1999). With respect to this inquiry, a number of criteria to guide the courts in making reliability determinations have been identified, including:

(1) whether a method consists of a testable hypothesis; (2) whether the method has been subject to peer review; (3) the known or potential rate of error; (4) the existence and maintenance of standards controlling the technique's operation; (5) whether the method is generally accepted; (6) the relationship of the technique to methods which have been established to he reliable; (7) the qualifications of the expert witness testifying based on the methodology; and (8) the non-judicial uses to which the method has been put.

Elcock v. Kmart Corp., 233 F.3d 734, 745-46 (3d Cir. 2000) (quoting In re Paoli R.R. Yard PCB Litig., 35 F.3d 717, 742 n. 8 (3d Cir. 1994)). This list is not exhaustive — the inquiry under Daubert should remain a flexible one. See, e.g., Elcock, 233 F.3d at 746 (writing that "Kumho Tire makes clear that this list is non-exclusive and that each factor need not be applied in every case"); Schieber v. City of Philadelphia, 2000 WL 1843246, at *2 (E.D.Pa. Dec. 13, 2000) ("These factors are non-exclusive and no one of the factors weighs more heavily than another; the approach to determining the admissibility of expert testimony is a flexible one.") (citing Daubert, 509 U.S. at 594).

As a general rule, the party offering the expert testimony has the burden of establishing its admissibility by a preponderance of the evidence. See Padillas v. Stork-Gamco, Inc., 186 F.3d 412, 418 (3d Cir. 1999).

B. Testimony of Dr. Santora

Plaintiff Nicholas Guarnieri plans to offer expert testimony from his psychologist, Dr. Santora, to establish that "Guarnieri's emotional and physical distress is the result of the stressors stemming from his termination from the Federation and the on-going ...


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