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Cb Aviation, LLC v. Hawker Beechcraft Corp

November 8, 2011

CB AVIATION, LLC,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
HAWKER BEECHCRAFT CORP.,
DEFENDANT.



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

MEMORANDUM

I. INTRODUCTION

This case arises out of the sale of an airplane by defendant to plaintiff pursuant to a sale agreement executed in October 2007. After the sale, plaintiff discovered that the airplane had a structural defect and filed suit claiming breach of contract, breach of express and implied warranties, and rescission based on mutual mistake of fact.

Presently before the Court is the Motion of Hawker Beechcraft Corporation to Preclude the Valuation Testimony of Plaintiff's Expert, Dennis Blackburn ("Daubert Motion"). Plaintiffs seek to call Mr. Blackburn as an expert in aircraft appraisal to testify as to the value of the aircraft at issue in the case. Defendant asks the Court to bar this testimony because, defendant argues, Mr. Blackburn is not qualified as an expert in this field and the methodology he used to arrive at his conclusion is not reliable. For the reasons that follow, the Court denies defendant's motion.

II. BACKGROUND

In October 2007, plaintiff and defendant entered into an agreement by which defendant sold plaintiff a Raytheon Aircraft Company Model Beech 390 (Premier I) aircraft (the "Aircraft"). During a routine inspection at defendant's maintenance facility in September 2009, defendant discovered cuts in the center pillar of the Aircraft's windshield. Defendant repaired the cuts, but plaintiff refused to accept the return of the Aircraft, claiming that defendant had breached the sales contract by delivering to plaintiff a non-airworthy airplane. Defendant refused to refund the purchase price, and plaintiff sued.

Plaintiff retained Dennis Blackburn of Corporate Concepts International, Inc., to prepare a report in accordance with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(a)(2). As requested, Mr. Blackburn prepared a report dated November 22, 2010. Plaintiff seeks to call Mr. Blackburn as an expert witness with regard to the value of the damaged Aircraft. Defendant deposed Mr. Blackburn on August 24, 2011. Defendant now attacks Mr. Blackburn's qualifications and the methodology he used to reach his conclusion regarding the Aircraft's value.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Federal Rule of Evidence 702 -- Legal Standard

Defendants challenge Mr. Blackburn's testimony on the ground that it does not meet the standard for admissibility of expert testimony set forth in Federal Rule of Evidence 702, which 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.

Fed. R. Evid. 702.

The "pathmarking" Supreme Court cases interpreting Rule 702 are Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993),*fn1 and Kumho Tire Co., Ltd. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137 (1999). United States v. Mitchell, 365 F.3d 215, 234 (3d Cir. 2004) (Becker, J.). In Daubert, the Supreme Court held that "[f]aced with a proffer of expert scientific testimony . . . the trial judge must determine at the outset . . . 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, 509 U.S. at 592. In Kumho Tire, the Supreme Court made clear that the Daubert gatekeeping function extends beyond scientific testimony to testimony based on "technical" and "other specialized" knowledge. 526 U.S. at 141.

Daubert requires courts to address a "trilogy of restrictions"-qualifications, reliability, and fit-before admitting expert testimony. Schneider v. Fried, 320 F.3d 396, 404 (3d Cir. 2003); see also Elcock v. Kmart Corp., 233 F.3d 734, 741 (3d Cir. 2000). The party offering the expert testimony must prove each of these requirements by a preponderance of the evidence. In re TMI Litig., 193 ...


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