United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
TIMOTHY G. O'BRYANT
GRAY INSURANCE COMPANY, ET AL
ORDER AND REASONS
D. ENGELHARDT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is Defendants' Motion in Limine to
Exclude/Limit Plaintiff's Liability Expert, Leslie
Eschete (Rec. Doc. 98). This motion is opposed by Plaintiff
(Rec. Doc. 112). Defendants, The Gray Insurance Company,
Longnecker Properties, Inc., ENI U.S. Operating Company, Inc.
and SEACOR Marine LLC, maintain that Mr. Eschete lacks the
requisite expertise to offer the opinions set forth in his
report, and further, that such opinions are unfounded and
inadmissible under Federal Rule of Evidence 702 and
Daubert. For the reasons stated herein, the motion
Rule 702 of the Federal Rules of Evidence,
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.
Thus, under Rule 702 and Daubert, a court "must
ensure the expert uses reliable methods to reach his
opinions[, ] and those opinions must be relevant to the facts
of the case." Guy v. Crown Equip.
Corp., 394 F.3d 320, 325 (5th Cir. 2004). Reliability
and validity must be demonstrated by evidence that the
knowledge is more than speculation. Daubert, 509
U.S. at 590. An evaluation or analysis of reliability must be
flexible, as “[t]he factors identified in
Daubert may or may not be pertinent in assessing
reliability, depending on the nature of the issue, the
expert's particular expertise, and the subject of his
testimony.” Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael, 526
U.S. 137, 150, 119 S.Ct. 1167, 1175, 143 L.Ed.2d 238 (1999).
With respect to relevancy of expert testimony,
[T]he proposed testimony must be relevant “not simply
in the way all testimony must be relevant [pursuant to Rule
402], but also in the sense that the expert's proposed
opinion would assist the trier of fact to understand or
determine a fact in issue.” Bocanegra v. Vicmar
Servs. Inc., 320 F.3d 581, 584 (5th Cir.2003). There is
no more certain test for determining when experts may be used
than the common sense inquiry whether the untrained layman
would be qualified to determine intelligently and to the best
degree the particular issue without enlightenment from those
having a specialized understanding of the subject involved in
the dispute.” Vogler v. Blackmore, 352 F.3d
150, 156 n. 5 (5th Cir.2003) (quoting Fed.R.Evid. 702
advisory committee's note).
Kennedy v. Magnolia Marine Transp. Co., 189
F.Supp.3d 610, 615 (E.D. La. 2016). Thus, if a jury
“could adeptly assess [a] situation using only their
common experience and knowledge, ” it is within the
discretion of the trial judge to exclude the expert
testimony. Peters v. Five Star Marine Serv., 898
F.2d 448, 450 (5th Cir. 1990).
without deciding that Mr. Eschete is, in fact, an expert in
maritime industry areas, including maritime safety and the
duties of a captain of a vessel similar to the one involved
in this case, the Court turns to the specific opinions
offered by Mr. Eschete regarding the November 14, 2015
incident on board the M/V CLAY
ELLA, in which plaintiff Timothy G.
O'Bryant claims to have injured himself as a result of
slipping and falling in the shower on board the vessel. Mr.
Eschete offers five opinions associated with this incident:
1. This incident was completely avoidable. Had the LPI
dispatcher followed instructions and not ordered the
M/V CLAY ELLA to sea; no injury(s)
to Mr. O'Bryant would have occurred.
2. The captain/operator of the M/V CLAY
ELLA should have informed, notified, alerted
the riggers/personnel on the vessel of the course change
during the prevailing sea conditions; Mr. O'Bryant would
not have been injured.
3. Handrails and/or grab-bars should have been provided in
the larger than normal shower stall of ...