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Botey v. Green

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

June 8, 2017

JONATHAN BOTEY, Plaintiff
v.
ROBERT GREEN, et al., Defendants

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Robert D. Mariani United States District Judge

         Presently before the Court are Plaintiffs following motions in limine:

1. Motion to Preclude the Testimony and Opinions of Defendants' Expert David J. Schretlen, PH.D, ABPP/CN (Doc. 197);
2. Motion to Preclude Defendants' Expert V. Benjamin Nakkache, M.D., F.A.C.S, From Testifying as to Irrelevant Matters (Doc. 195);
3. Motion to Preclude Defendants' Expert Leon Feazell (Doc. 191).

         The Court will address each request in turn. Before doing so, however, the Court notes at the outset that it exercises its discretion to rule in limine on evidentiary issues "in appropriate cases." In re Japanese Bee. Prods. Antitrust Litig., 723 F.2d 238, 260 (3d Cir.1983), rev'd on other grounds sub nom. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986). While motions in limine may serve as a useful pretrial tool that enables a more in-depth briefing than would be available at trial, a court may defer ruling on such motions "if the context of trial would provide clarity." Frintner v. TruePosition, 892 F.Supp.2d 699, 707 (E.D. Pa. 2012) (citing Japanese Elec. Prods., 723 F.2d at 260).

         "[M]otions in limine often present issues for which final decision is best reserved for a specific trial situation." Walden v. Georgia-Pacific Corp., 126 F.3d 506, 518 n. 10 (3d Cir 1997). Thus, certain motions, "especially ones that encompass broad classes of evidence, should generally be deferred until trial to allow for the resolution of questions of foundation, relevancy, and potential prejudice in proper context." Leonard v. Stemetech Health Scis., inc., 981 F.Supp.2d 273, 276 (D. Del. 2013). Specifically, "pretrial Rule 403 exclusions should rarely be granted.... [A] court cannot fairly ascertain the potential relevance of evidence for Rule 403 purposes until it has a full record relevant to the putatively objectionable evidence." In re Paoli R.R. Yard PCS Litig., 916 F.2d 829, 859 (3d Cir. 1990) (emphasis original). Finally, it is important to note that "in limine rulings are not binding on the trial judge, and the judge may always change his mind during the course of a trial." Ohlerv. United States, 529 U.S. 753, 758 n.3, 120 S.Ct 1851, 146 L.Ed.2d 826 (2000).

         With these principles in mind, the Court now turns to Plaintiff's motions.

         1. Standard for Assessing Expert Testimony

         The Rules of Evidence, and Rule 702 in particular, assign the trial Court "the task of ensuring that an expert's testimony both rests on a reliable foundation and is relevant to the task at hand." Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579, 597 (1993). Pursuant to Federal Rule of Evidence 702, 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 inquiry under Rule 702 is "a flexible one." Daubert v. MerrellDow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579, 594 (1993). The overarching subject of the Rule is "the scientific validity and thus the evidentiary relevance and reliability - of the principles that underlie a proposed submission." Id. at 594-595.[1]

         Furthermore, Rule 703 is instructive.

An expert may base on opinion on facts or data in the case that the expert has been made aware of or personally observed. If experts in the particular field would reasonably rely on those kinds of facts or data in forming an opinion on the subject, they need not be admissible for the opinion to be admitted. But if the facts or data would otherwise be inadmissible, the proponent of the opinion may disclose them to the jury only if their probative value in helping the jury evaluate the opinion substantially outweighs their prejudicial effect.

Fed. R. Evid. 703.

         Finally, in assessing a proffer of expert testimony under Rule 702, a Court must also take into consideration other applicable rules, including Rules 703, 706, and 403. Daubert, 509 U.S. at 595.

         2. Motion to Preclude the Testimony and Opinions of Defendants' Expert David J. ...


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