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Kinnerson v. Arena Offshore, LP

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lafayette Division

June 21, 2019

RYAN R. KINNERSON
v.
ARENA OFFSHORE, LP, ET AL

         SECTION "L" (1)

          ORDER & REASONS

          ELDON E. FALLON U.S. DISTRICT COURT JUDGE

         Before the Court is Defendants' Motion in Limine/Daubert Motion to Exclude Report, Opinions, and Testimony of Plaintiff's Expert Economist and Vocational Rehabilitation Consultant, R. Doc. 129. The motion is opposed. R. Doc. 132. The Court now rules as follows.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Ryan Kinnerson alleges that he was injured on or about May 25, 2015, while working on a fixed platform off the coast of Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico. According to the Complaint, Plaintiff sustained injuries while being transferred by Defendant Sparrows' temporary crane in a personnel basket from the fixed platform to the M/V Miss Claire. R. Doc. 1 at 3. Plaintiff alleges that while in the basket, the “personnel basket violently struck the M/V Miss Claire's railing throwing [Plaintiff] off the personnel basket onto the deck of the M/V Miss Claire thereby causing [Plaintiff] to sustain severe disabling personal injuries.” R. Doc. 1 at 3-4. Plaintiff brought suit against Arena Offshore, LP, Sparrows Offshore, LLC; and Texas Crew Boats, Inc. All Defendants except Sparrows have settled with Plaintiff and are thus dismissed from this case.

         II. PRESENT MOTION

         In this motion, Defendants argue that the Court should exclude the expert reports of Plaintiff's vocational rehabilitation consultant, Glenn Hebert, and expert economist, John Theriot. R. Doc. 129-2 at 1. Defendants contend that Plaintiff's experts offer fundamentally unsupported opinions that will do nothing to assist the finder of fact in understanding the evidence. R. Doc. 129-2 at 4. Plaintiff opposes the motion. R. Doc. 132. Because Defendants filed the present motion before Defendant Sparrows remained as the only Defendant, the Court's analysis below refers to Defendants in the plural.

         III. LAW AND ANALYSIS

         The admissibility of expert testimony is governed by Rule 702 of the Federal Rule of Evidence, which provides that:

If scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue, a witness qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training or education, may testify thereto in the form of an opinion or otherwise, if (1) the testimony is based on sufficient facts or data, (2) the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods, and (3) the witness has applied the principles and methods reliably to the facts of the case.

Fed. R. Evid. 702. This rule codifies the Supreme Court's decisions in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993) and Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137 (1999).

         a. The Court's gate-keeper function in a bench trial

          The Court must act as a “gate-keeper” to ensure the proffered expert testimony is “both reliable and relevant.” Wells v. SmithKline Beecham Corp., 601 F.3d 375, 378 (5th Cir. 2010). However, “[t]he primary purpose of the Daubert filter is to protect juries from being bamboozled by technical evidence of dubious merit.” SmithKline Beecham Corp. v. Apotex Corp., 247 F.Supp.2d 1011, 1042 (N.D. Ill. 2003). Accordingly, the Court's “gate-keeper” role is diminished in a bench trial because there is no need to protect the jury and risk tainting the trial by exposing the jury to unreliable evidence. See Whitehouse Hotel Ltd. V. P'ship v. Comm'r, 615 F.3d 321, 330 (5th Cir. 2010). Although the “gate-keeper” role may be diminished, the Court is still required to perform its gate-keeping function. Metavante Corp. v. Emigrant Sav. Bank, 2010 WL 3385961 (7th Cir. 2010).

         In his opposition, Plaintiff argues a Daubert motion is inappropriate in this case because it involves a bench trial. R. Doc. 132 at 2. Plaintiff contends, “[t]his Court is experienced and more than capable of evaluating expert testimony and assigning it the appropriate weight.” R. Doc. 132 at 2. Plaintiff also references numerous cases tried ...


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