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Thomas Amadio, et al. v. John Glenn

February 1, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Dalzell, J.


Dalzell, J. February 1, 2011

This case arises from an auto accident that occurred on November 16, 2007. Plaintiff Thomas Amadio was driving his car along Packer Avenue near its intersection with 16th Street in Philadelphia when another vehicle suddenly struck his car. Defendant Haines Greenhouse, Inc. owned the car and defendant John Glenn drove it.

The parties have already completed discovery, and plaintiffs have filed a Daubert motion to preclude the opinion testimony of Drs. Kohler and Moberg ("the doctors") related to the results of the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory -2 ("MMPI-2") Test and to preclude any expert testimony related to credibility.

Defendants for their part have filed two Daubert motions, one to preclude any and all evidence, whether testimonial or otherwise, regarding plaintiffs' expert, Kenneth Creech, a professional engineer, and the other to preclude any and all evidence, whether testimonial or otherwise, of Dr. Robert Cancro's opinion that plaintiff suffered a traumatic brain injury. As we have the parties' briefs and copious supporting documentation,*fn1 we now address the motions.

I. Factual Background

According to plaintiffs' motion to preclude expert testimony, in addition to the November 16, 2007 accident, Amadio was in a car accident in 2001 that resulted in multiple injuries, including brain damage. Amadio now claims that the brain damage suffered from his prior injury worsened as a result of the car accident at issue here.

On March 9, 2010, at the request of plaintiffs' counsel, Dr. Robert Cancro examined Mr. Amadio. Dr. Cancro provided two expert reports. On April 9, 2010, Kenneth Creech, an engineer, provided an expert report after investigating the nature and cause of the collision between Amadio's 2005 Chrysler passenger car as it traveled west and Haines Greenhouse's 1995 Chevrolet Box Van as it exited a parking space near the intersection of Packer Avenue and 16th Street in Philadelphia. Defendants had Christian Kohler, M.D., and Paul J. Moberg, Ph.D.examine Amadio on April 19 and 22, 2010 to evaluate his present injuries, including his brain damage. During the course of their evaluation, Drs. Kohler and Moberg administered the MMPI-2 test to him.

Christian G. Kohler, M.D., is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Neurology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Departments of Psychiatry and Neurology in the School of Medicine. He has been on the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania since 1997. He holds an M.D. from Innsbruck University, Austria. He is a Neuropsychiatrist in the Brain Behavior Clinic in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania. He is a member of the American Neuropsychiatric Association and a member of the VAMC Mental Health and Behavioral Sciences Merit Review.

Paul Joseph Moberg, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the Department of Neurology in the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. He holds a B.A. from Augsburg College, an M.A. from Loyola College of Maryland, and a Ph.D. from the University of Health Sciences at The Chicago Medical School. He is a member of the International Neuropsychological Society, the American Psychological Association, Division 40, Clinical Neuropsychology, the American Board of Clinical Neuropsychology, the American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology, the National Academy of Neuropsychology, the Association of Chemoreception Sciences, the Society of Behavioral and Cognitive Neurology, and the Schizophrenia International Research Society.

Robert Cancro, M.D., is the Lucius N. Littauer Professor of Psychiatry at the New York University Langone Medical Center. He holds a B.S. from Fordham College and an M.D. and Med.D.Sc. from the State University of New York. He is President of the International Committee Against Mental Illness and the Director of the Mental Illness Prevention Center.

Kenneth Creech is a licensed professional engineer. He holds an Associates of Technology in Electronics and a B.S. in Engineering from Temple University, as well as a B.S. in Industrial Management from LaSalle University. He is a member of the Building Officials and Code Administrators International, the National Fire Protection Association, and the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-Conditioning Engineers.

II. Legal Standard

The Federal Rules of Evidence provide that, where "scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue," an expert who is qualified "by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education" may offer testimony in the form of an opinion. Fed. R. Evid. 702. Such evidence is admissible only where "(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." Id.

Rule 702 incorporates the Supreme Court's holding in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharm., Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993), in the form of what our Court of Appeals has called "a trilogy of restrictions on expert testimony: qualification, reliability and fit." Schneider v. Fried, 320 F.3d 396, 404 (3d Cir. 2003). In evaluating opinion testimony on motions such as these, "the district court acts as a gatekeeper, preventing opinion testimony that does not meet the requirements of qualification, reliability and fit from reaching the jury." Id. As a general rule, the party that wishes to introduce ...

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