United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
ROBERT S. EVANS, Administrator of the Estate of Damon Sheron Rush, Plaintiff,
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, et al., Defendants.
before the Court is Defendant United States of America's
Motion in Limine to Restrict Testimony of Drs. Freese,
Hellman, Manion, and Ingram (ECF No. 78). Upon consideration
of Defendant's Motion, Plaintiff's response thereto
(ECF No. 90) and Defendant's Reply (ECF No. 92),
Defendant's Motion is GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
April 17, 2013, Damon Sheron Rush (“Decedent”)
fell through a water meter vault at the United States Marine
Corp Training Center, where he was working as a landscaper.
Over the course of the next two years, Andrew Freese, M.D.,
and William T. Ingram, D.O., treated Decedent for injuries he
sustained as a result of the 2013 accident. These included
injuries to his leg, knee, neck, and back. Five days after
his accident, Decedent visited Dr. Ingram's office where
he was seen by Dennis Winkelman, M.D., an associate of Dr.
Ingram. During his visit, Decedent explained that he was
performing duties as a landscaper at the Marine Training
Center when he stepped on a metal plate which tipped over,
causing him to fall into the hole that had been covered by
March 2015, Decedent sought additional treatment with Dr.
Freese who recommended that Decedent undergo surgery to
address Decedent's chronic pain caused by the accident.
On June 2, 2015, Decedent underwent his first surgery, which
was a multilevel cervical laminectomy. (Freese Report 3, ECF
No. 78-4.) Following this surgery, Decedent suffered an
infection in his surgical wounds, which required Decedent to
undergo an additional surgery on June 26, 2015. (Freese
Report 6.) Three different medical providers prescribed
Decedent pain medications in order to help Decedent cope with
the pain stemming from his accident and subsequent surgeries.
On July 7, 2015, Decedent was found dead in his bed.
April 9, 2015, Plaintiff, administrator of Decedent's
estate, filed suit against Defendant asserting that Defendant
was negligent in maintaining its property and allowing the
metal cover to remain in a dangerous condition. On July 9,
2015, Fredric N. Hellman, M.D., performed an autopsy which
revealed that the main cause of Decedent's death was
“[m]ixed prescription drug intoxication.”
(Postmortem Report 1, ECF No. 78-5.) The Postmortem Report,
prepared by Dr. Hellman also indicated a “recent
history of cervical laminectomies, with complication
thereof” was a significant condition contributing to
Decedent's death. (Postmortem Report 1, ECF No. 78-5.) On
November 24, 2015, Plaintiff amended his original complaint
to include a survival action. (First Am. Compl. ECF No. 20.)
instant motion seeks to exclude portions of testimony offered
by Plaintiff's expert witnesses. Plaintiff's medical
experts, Drs. Freese, Hellman, and Ingram, have each
concluded that Decedent's death was caused by the
accident which Decedent suffered on Defendant's property
on April 17, 2013. These experts have concluded that Decedent
died from excessive ingestion of prescription medication,
which Decedent was taking to cope with pain from the 2013
accident and subsequent surgeries. Plaintiff has also hired
William L. Manion, M.D., to offer his expert opinion
regarding the cause of Decedent's death. Dr. Manion
agrees that Decedent's death was caused by the 2013
accident. Defendant argues that each of Plaintiff's
experts' opinions of causation should be excluded because
they lack sufficient basis for their opinions linking
Decedent's death to the April 2013 accident.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Rule of Evidence 702 governs the admissibility of expert
testimony. Rule 702 provides:
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
(d) the expert has reliably applied the principles and
methods to the facts of the case.
Fed. R. Evid. 702. The Third Circuit has explained that Rule
702 has three major requirements. The proffered witness must:
(1) “be an expert, i.e. must be qualified”; (2)
“testify about matters requiring scientific,
technical[, ] or specialized knowledge”; and (3)
present testimony that “assist[s] the trier of
fact.” Pineda v. Ford Motor Co., 520 F.3d 237,
244 (3d Cir. 2008). In sum, Rule 702 “embodies a
trilogy of restrictions on expert testimony: qualification,
reliability and fit.” Schneider ex rel. Schneider
v. Fried, 320 F.3d 396, 404 (3d Cir. 2003). “The
party offering the expert must prove each of these
requirements by a preponderance of the evidence.”
Mahmood v. Narciso, 549 F. App'x 99, 102 (3d
Cir. 2013) (citing In re TMI Litig., 193 F.3d 613,
663 (3d Cir. 1999)).
702 has “a liberal policy of admissibility.”
Pineda, 520 F.3d at 243 (quoting Kannankeril v.
Terminix Inter., Inc., 128 F.3d 802, 806 (3d Cir.
1997)). Exclusion of expert testimony is the exception rather
than the rule because “vigorous cross-examination,
presentation of contrary evidence, and careful instruction on
the burden of proof are the traditional and appropriate means
of attacking shaky but admissible evidence.”