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Krauss v. IRIS USA, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

May 24, 2019

DONALD J. KRAUSS et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
IRIS USA, INC. et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM

          GENE E.K. PRATTER United States District Judge.

         This negligence and breach of contract case is no child's play. It arises out of (i) a contract between Fightback and IRIS USA, Inc. for the purchase of a large shipment of LEGO baseplates[1]; (ii) the resulting shipment and delivery by C.H. Robinson and its agent KV Load; and (iii) injuries suffered by Donald J. Krauss, a volunteer at Fightback, when the pallets holding the LEGO baseplates collapsed and fell on Mr. Krauss during the unloading process. KV Load and C.H. Robinson settled with the plaintiffs and are no longer parties to the case.

There are five motions pending before the Court.[2] The Court will:
(1) Deny IRIS' Daubert motion because IRIS filed this motion eight months after the deadline and has not made a showing of excusable neglect;
(2) Grant in part and deny in part IRIS' motion to preclude evidence of damages allegedly sustained by Ms. Brillman, JC Rehab, and CGB Rehab;
(3) Grant in part and deny in part IRIS' motion to preclude evidence related to Mr. Krauss' alleged injuries;
(4) Grant IRIS' motion to preclude evidence concerning Mr. Krauss' loss of income from his inability to harvest trees because such damages are too speculative; and
(5) Grant Mr. Krauss' motion to preclude evidence concerning Mr. Krauss' 1995 criminal conviction because Mr. Krauss' 24-year-old conviction is neither relevant to this case nor admissible under Federal Rule of Evidence 609(b).

         The facts of this case were set forth at length in the Court's Memorandum addressing a previous motion to dismiss and will not be recounted here. See November 22, 2017 Memorandum, at 2-4. The Court addresses the pending motions in the order listed above.

         Discussion

         I. IRIS' Daubert Motion

         IRIS seeks to preclude presentation by the plaintiffs' logistics expert, Ronald D. Grossman. Mr. Grossman, who has over 40 years of experience in warehousing and distribution, shipping, transportation, and global supply chain activities, submitted a report stating that IRIS failed to meet the standard of care by, among other things, using EURO pallets (as opposed to American Pallets) and double-stacking the pallets. IRIS argues that Mr. Grossman's testimony should be precluded because his opinions are not based on a scientific methodology, he does not define the standard of care, and he offers legal conclusions. Because IRIS' Daubert motion is eight months late, and IRIS did not make any showing of excusable neglect, the Court denies this motion as untimely.

         Even when a deadline has passed, the Court may retroactively extend it for good cause when a party has filed a motion showing excusable neglect. Fed.R.Civ.P. 6(b)(1)(B). To access this rule, “a party must make a formal motion for extension of time and the district court must make a finding of excusable neglect.” Drippe v. Tobelinski, 604 F.3d 778, 785 (3d Cir. 2010). In evaluating whether “excusable neglect” exists, the Court must consider “all relevant circumstances surrounding the party's omission, ” including: (1) the danger of prejudice; (2) the length of the delay and its potential impact on judicial proceedings; (3) the reason for the delay, including whether it was within the reasonable control of the movant; and (4) whether the movant acted in good faith. Pioneer Inv. Servs. Co. v. Brunswick Assocs. Ltd. P'ship, 507 U.S. 380, 395 (1993).

         Pursuant to the Court's Second Amended Scheduling Order, any Daubert motion needed to be filed by February 12, 2018. IRIS did not so. Instead, on October 26, 2018, over eight months after the Daubert motion deadline, IRIS filed a Daubert motion thinly disguised as a motion in limine. IRIS did not file a motion for extension of time showing excusable neglect. When the Court called counsel to task on this point during oral argument, IRIS' counsel conceded that he has “no basis for excusable neglect.” Absent any effort to show excusable neglect, the Court cannot accept IRIS' untimely Daubert motion. See Drippe, 604 F.3d at 784-85 (“‘[T]here is no discretion to grant a post-deadline extension absent a motion and showing of excusable neglect.'”) (quoting Jones v. Cent. Bank, 161 F.3d 311, 314 n.2 (5th Cir. 1998)). Therefore, the Court denies IRIS' Daubert motion as untimely.[3]

         II. IRIS' Motion to Preclude Evidence of Damages Allegedly Sustained by Ms. Brillman, JC Rehab, and CGB Rehab

         IRIS also moves to preclude the plaintiffs from “presenting evidence of damages allegedly sustained by Ms. Brillman, JC Rehab, and CGB Rehab [collectively, the “ancillary plaintiffs”], because there is no direct link between the [ancillary plaintiffs'] claimed damages and any alleged conduct of IRIS.” IRIS' Mot. to Preclude Certain Economic Damage Evidence Asserted by Donald J. Krauss and Fightback for Autism as Assignees, at 4. In other words, IRIS argues that the plaintiffs should be precluded from claiming these damages because they were not proximately caused by and are too remote from IRIS' conduct.

         The alleged damages at issue include:

(1) Expenses paid by Ms. Brillman and CGB Rehab for Mr. Krauss' medical care and therapy equipment provided to Mr. Krauss;
(2) Expenses paid by JC Rehab associated with storing the broken LEGO baseplates for Fightback;
(3) Expenses paid by Ms. Brillman for contracting work Mr. Krauss could no longer perform at Ms. Brillman's properties; and
(4) Expenses paid by Ms. Brillman for Mr. Krauss' supplemental health insurance premiums.

         The Court will deny IRIS' motion with respect to the first two categories of damages because these claims belong to Mr. Krauss and Fightback respectively, and there are no proximate cause issues. However, the Court will preclude the plaintiffs from pursuing damages for the contracting work done at Ms. Brillman's properties and for Mr. Krauss' supplemental health insurance premiums because these alleged damages are too remote from IRIS' alleged negligent conduct.

         A. Mr. Krauss' Medical Expenses and Therapy Equipment

         IRIS argues that Mr. Krauss cannot recover for his medical expenses and therapy equipment paid for by Ms. Brillman and CGB Rehab because the claimed payments “are too remote from the alleged incident.” Id. at 14. IRIS, however, confuses which plaintiff is-and always has been-entitled to claim recovery for Mr. Krauss' medical expenses and therapy equipment: Mr. Krauss himself. Because IRIS' misunderstanding stems from this case's admittedly cumbersome procedural history, the Court recounts a series of events dating back to the plaintiffs' third amended complaint.

         In the third amended complaint, the plaintiffs asserted that IRIS' negligence caused Mr. Krauss to “incur[] significant medical expenses, which were reasonably foreseeable.” Third Amended Complaint, at ¶ 86. Nevertheless, the plaintiffs also confusingly claimed that IRIS' negligence caused “Ms. Brillman's economic damages, ” including, “paying for Mr. Krauss' medical expenses.” Id. at ΒΆ 87. Similarly, the plaintiffs alleged that IRIS' negligence ...


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