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Parker v. John W. Stone Oil Distributors, L.L.C.

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

October 16, 2019

JEREMY A. PARKER
v.
JOHN W. STONE OIL DISTRIBUTORS, L.L.C.

         SECTION "L" (2)

          ORDER & REASONS

          ELDON E. FALLON U.S. DISTRICT COURT JUDGE.

         Before the Court are the following Motions: (1) Plaintiff's Motion in Limine to Exclude Certain Anticipated Testimony of Dr. Archie Melcher, R. Doc. 64; (2) Plaintiff's Motion in Limine to Exclude Certain Anticipated Testimony of Dr. Dennis Occhipinti, R. Doc. 65; (3) Plaintiff's Motion in Limine to Exclude Certain Anticipated Testimony of Dr. Everett Robert, R. Doc. 66; and (4) Plaintiff's Motion in Limine to Exclude Certain Anticipated Testimony of Dr. Richard Roniger, R. Doc. 67. The motions are all opposed. R. Doc. 69. Plaintiff filed a reply. R. Doc. 70. Defendant filed a sur-reply. R. Doc. 74-1. The Court now rules as follows.

         I. BACKGROUND: JONES ACT PERSONAL INJURY

         This case arises from injuries Plaintiff Jeremy Parker, a Jones Act seaman, allegedly sustained while working as a tankerman aboard a vessel, the M/V PRESAGER, owned by Defendant John W. Stone Oil Distributors LLC. R. Doc. 1 at 2. Plaintiff claims a fellow crewmember pulled on a face wire, causing a line to pop, which resulted in a 10-pound shackle falling approximately ten feet and hitting Plaintiff in the head. R. Doc. 30-1 at 1. Plaintiff alleges this impact caused serious injuries to his neck and head and rendered him unfit for duty as a seaman. R. Doc. 30-1 at 1. According to the Complaint, the sole and proximate cause of the accident was Defendant's negligence and maintenance of an unseaworthy vessel. R. Doc. 1 at 2- 3. Accordingly, Plaintiff seeks to recover past, present, and future physical, mental and emotional pain and suffering; loss of wages and wage-earning capacity; medical expenses; past and future physical disability; and past, present, and future maintenance and cure. R. Doc. 1 at 3.

         Defendant contests the cause of Plaintiff's accident and asserts Plaintiff placed himself in an unsafe position in violation of Defendant's safety rules. R. Doc. 35 at 1. Further, Defendant alleges Plaintiff failed to inspect the line in question prior to its use. R. Doc. 35 at 1.

         II. PRESENT MOTION

         Plaintiff has filed four Motions in Limine to exclude testimony by expert witnesses at trial. R. Docs. 64-67. Specifically, Plaintiff objects to anticipated testimony by: (1) Dr. Archie Melcher regarding Plaintiff's prior medical history, R. Doc. 64; (2) Dr. Dennis Occhipinti regarding his opinion on the existence and effects of Plaintiff's multiple sclerosis, R. Doc. 65; (3) Dr. Everett Robert regarding Plaintiff's prior medical history, R. Doc. 66; and (4) Dr. Richard Roniger regarding Plaintiff's prior head injury, R. Doc. 67. Defendant filed an opposition to Plaintiff's motions. R. Doc. 69. Plaintiff filed a reply. R. Doc. 70. Defendant filed a sur-reply. R. Doc. 74-1. The Court will now address each of Plaintiff's motions in turn.

         III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         a. Expert Testimony

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

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 Pharma., Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993) and Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137 (1999).

         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). This requires the Court conduct a two-pronged assessment to determine whether the expert testimony is: (1) based on reliable methodology and (2) will assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue. See Daubert, 509 U.S. at 589-91. But ultimately, a court's role as a gatekeeper does not replace the adversary system. Id. at 596. “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.” Id. Proper deference is to be accorded to the jury's role “as the arbiter of disputes between conflicting opinions.” United States v. 14.38 Acres of Land, 80 F.3d 1074, 1077 (5th Cir. 1996) (quoting Viterbo v. Dow Chem. Co., 826 F.2d 420, 422 (5th Cir. ...


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