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Arlington Industries, Inc. v. Bridgeport Fittings

September 10, 2009

ARLINGTON INDUSTRIES, INC., PLAINTIFF
v.
BRIDGEPORT FITTINGS, INC., DEFENDANT
BRIDGEPORT FITTINGS, INC., CONSOLIDATED PLAINTIFF
v.
ARLINGTON INDUSTRIES, INC., CONSOLIDATED DEFENDANT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Conner

MEMORANDUM

This is a consolidated patent infringement suit in which Arlington Industries, Incorporated ("Arlington") seeks to hold Bridgeport Fittings, Incorporated ("Bridgeport") liable for infringement, and Bridgeport seeks to invalidate Arlington's patent. Presently before the court is Bridgeport's motion in limine (Doc. 478 ¶¶ 1, 5) to exclude from trial the expert testimony of Christopher Rahn ("Rahn"), Daniel O'Neil ("O'Neil"), Thomas Gretz ("Gretz"), and Mark Gallagher ("Gallagher"). For the reasons that follow, the motion will be denied with respect to each of the witnesses.

I. Factual Background*fn1

Arlington and Bridgeport manufacture and design metallic and non-metallic electrical conduit fittings. Arlington's patented fitting-United States Patent Number 5,266,050 (the "'050 patent")-features a circular spring metal adaptor, attached to which are at least two tensioning tangs bent outward at an angle relative to the normal plane of the adaptor. When the adaptor is inserted into the knock-out hole of an electrical junction box, the tensioning tangs press against the junction box walls and lock the adaptor firmly into place. (See Doc. 471 at 2-3.)

Bridgeport manufactures a line of allegedly infringing electrical fittings, collectively denominated "Whipper-Snap" connectors.*fn2 Each model electrical fitting in the Whipper-Snap product line consists of a circular spring metal adaptor. Attached to the leading end of this adaptor are a total of four tensioning tangs and two anchoring tabs. Arlington contends that the tensioning tangs on the Whipper-Snap fittings are bent outward at an angle relative to the normal plane of the adaptor; Bridgeport asserts that the accused products' tensioning tangs are coconical with, and lie in the normal plane of, the adaptor. (See id. at 5-7.)

Since the above-captioned action was commenced in late 2005, the parties have engaged in extensive discovery, a Markman hearing, and summary judgment briefing; jury selection is scheduled for September 14, 2009. In anticipation of trial, Bridgeport filed a motion in limine on June 25, 2009. (See Doc. 478.) Although the motion seeks to exclude nine distinct categories of evidence, the instant memorandum is limited to Bridgeport's objections to the admissibility of expert testimony proffered by Rahn, O'Neil, Gretz, and Gallagher.

II. Legal Standard

Admissibility of expert testimony is a question of law governed by Federal Rule of Evidence 702. See Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharms., Inc., 509 U.S. 579, 588-89 (1993). The rule provides:

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.

FED. R. EVID. 702; see also Calhoun v. Yamaha Motor Corp., U.S.A., 350 F.3d 316, 321 (3d Cir. 2003) (explaining that the Rule 702 requirements constitute "the 'trilogy of restrictions on expert testimony: qualification, reliability and fit'" (quoting Schneider v. Fried, 320 F.3d 396, 405 (3d Cir. 2003))). Only if expert testimony is both relevant and reliable may it be admitted at trial. However, according to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals,*fn3 Rule 702 embraces a "liberal policy of admissibility," pursuant to which it is preferable to admit any evidence that may assist the trier of fact. Pineda v. Ford Motor Co., 520 F.3d 237, 243 (3d Cir. 2008) (quoting Kannankeril v. Terminix Int'l, Inc., 128 F.3d 802, 806 (3d Cir. 1997)).

III. Discussion

Bridgeport moves to preclude Rahn and O'Neil from offering testimony concerning empirical measurements that each of these witnesses performed upon the Whipper-Snap fittings. In addition, Bridgeport seeks to exclude Rahn, O'Neil, and Gretz from opining that the tensioning tangs attached to the Whipper-Snap products are "outwardly sprung." Finally, Bridgeport requests exclusion of evidence proffered by Gallagher regarding lost profits and the absence of acceptable non-infringing alternative products. The court will address each of these witnesses in turn.

A. Christopher Rahn

Rahn is a doctor of philosophy in mechanical engineering and a professor of the same at the Pennsylvania State University. He has over twenty-five years' experience in the mechanical engineering field, published over fifty peer-reviewed research papers, and authored a textbook on mechatronics. (See Doc. 286, Rahn Dec. ΒΆ 1.) He is a self-described expert in the fields of electrical connectors, mechanical engineering, electrical ...


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