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Gage v. Jenkins

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

March 29, 2017




         Before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion in Limine, [1] pursuant to which he seeks various forms of relief that the Court will address in sequence. This Motion is opposed.[2]

         Pro se Plaintiff, an inmate confined at the Louisiana State Penitentiary (“LSP”), Angola, Louisiana, filed this proceeding pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Capt. Leon Jenkins, Lt. Robert Rowe, Major Eric Hinyard, Lt. Col. Linden Franklin, Sgt. Tywanna Taylor, Sgt. C.B. Johnson, and Cadet Kenneth Jarvis.[3] Plaintiff alleges that his constitutional rights were violated on November 3, 2012, when he was subjected to excessive force on that date.


         Initially, Plaintiff challenges the admissibility of Defendants' expert, Dr. Randy Lavespere, and requests a hearing relative to the admission of the expert's testimony at trial in accordance with Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceutical, Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993) and Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137 (1999). Plaintiff challenges Lavespere's testimony as being unreliable because Dr. Lavespere was not Plaintiff's treating physician on the date of the incident complained of and, accordingly, his testimony will not be based upon personal knowledge of the pertinent events. Plaintiff further asserts that Lavespere's testimony is inherently unreliable and suspect because Lavespere has previously been convicted of a felony drug offense and has since undergone continuing medical treatment and monitoring for drug dependency. Finally, Plaintiff suggests that Lavespere will provide biased testimony in favor of Defendants because the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections has assisted Lavespere with his employment and position at the Louisiana State Penitentiary.

         Rule 702 of the Federal Rules of Evidence 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 methods; and
(d) the expert has reliably applied the principles and methods to the facts of the case.

         Pursuant to its express terms, Rule 702 does not render all expert testimony admissible.[4] Further, even if the proposed expert testimony satisfies each of the elements set forth in the Rule, the testimony may still be excluded pursuant to the discretionary provisions of Fed R. Evid. 403, which allow a Court to “exclude relevant evidence if its probative value is substantially outweighed by a danger of one or more of the following: unfair prejudice, confusing the issues, misleading the jury, undue delay, wasting time, or needlessly presenting cumulative evidence.”

         When a Daubert challenge is made to the testimony of a proposed expert, a district court may, but is not required to, hold a hearing at which the proffered opinion may be challenged.[5] When a hearing is not held, “a district court must still perform its gatekeeping function by performing some type of Daubert inquiry.”[6] “At a minimum, a district court must create a record of its Daubert inquiry and ‘articulate its basis for admitting [or denying] expert testimony.'”[7]

         The role of the trial court is to serve as the gatekeeper for expert testimony by making a determination whether the expert opinion is reliable. As the Fifth Circuit has explained:

[W]hen expert testimony is offered, the trial judge must perform a screening function to ensure that the expert's opinion is reliable and relevant to the facts at issue in the case. Daubert went on to make “general observations” intended to guide a district court's evaluation of scientific evidence. The nonexclusive list includes “whether [a theory or technique] can be (and has been) tested, ” whether it “has been subjected to peer review and publication, ” the “known or potential rate of error, ” and the “existence and maintenance of standards controlling the technique's operation, ” as well as “general acceptance.” The Court summarized:
The inquiry envisioned by Rule 702 is, we emphasize, a flexible one. Its overarching subject is the scientific validity and thus the evidentiary relevance and reliability-of the principles that underlie a proposed submission. The focus, of course, must be solely on ...

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