United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER OVERRULING MSC'S OBJECTIONS
(DOC. 1108) AND ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF SPECIAL
MASTER (DOC. 1102) AND DENYING MSC'S MOTION IN LIMINE TO
EXCLUDE CHRISTOPHER VELLTURO (DOC. 993)
COHN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
a business dispute tried to a jury. The Court set aside a
jury's $26, 100, 000.00 verdict in favor of MSC and
granted Altair a new trial on the issue of damages for breach
of confidentiality/misappropriation of three MSC-owned
technical trade secrets (TTS).
the Court's ruling, the parties engaged in damages
discovery which included the filing of expert reports. MSC
filed a motion in limine to exclude the report and testimony
of Dr. Christopher A. Vellturo (Doc. 993), Altair's
damages expert. The Court referred the matter to the Special
Master for a report and recommendation (Doc.
The Special Master recommends that the motion be denied.
(Doc. 1102). MSC objects. (Doc. 1108). For the reasons that
follow, MSC's objections will be overruled, the Special
Master's report will be adopted and MSC's motion to
exclude Vellturo will be denied.
matter has been fully and robustly briefed. The relevant
papers are as follows:
Doc. 993 MSC's motion to exclude Vellturo
Doc. 1010 Order of reference to Special Master
Doc. 1020 Altair's response
Doc. 1087 MSC's reply
Doc. 1087 Altair's surreply
Doc. 1102 Special Master's Report and
Doc. 1108 MSC's objections
Doc. 1109 Altair's response
Doc. 1156 MSC's reply
addition, the record contains Vellturo's report (Ex. 1 to
Doc. 993) and supplemental expert report (Ex. H to Doc.
district court must conduct a de novo review of the parts of
a special master's report and recommendation to which a
party objects. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B). The district
“court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in
part the findings or recommendations” of a special
Special Master set forth the proper legal framework for
deciding the motion:
A qualified expert may testify 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.” Fed.R.Evid. 702.
The Rule requires the district court to act as a gatekeeper
to “ensure that any and all scientific testimony or
evidence admitted is not only relevant, but reliable.”
Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509
U.S. 579, 589 (1993). That standard applies not only to
scientific testimony but to all expert testimony. Kumho
Tire Co., Ltd. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137, 147 (1999).
The reliability inquiry is a flexible one; “whether
Daubert's specific factors are, or are not,
reasonable measures of reliability in a particular case is a
matter that the law grants the trial judge broad latitude to
determine.” Id. at 153. "[T]he
Daubert Court has instructed the courts that they
are not to be concerned with the reliability of the
conclusions generated by valid methods, principles and
reasoning.... If the principles, methodology and reasoning
are scientifically valid then it follows that the inferences,
assertions and conclusions derived therefrom are
scientifically valid as well." Greenwell v.
Boatwright, 184 F.3d 492, 497 (6th Cir. 1999) (citing
U.S. v. Bonds, 12 F.3d 540, 556 (6th Cir. 1993).
“Daubert and Rule 702 are safeguards against
unreliable or irrelevant opinions, not guarantees of
correctness.” I4i Ltd. P'ship v. Microsoft
Corp., 598 F.3d 831, 854 (Fed. Cir. 2010) aff'd 131
S.Ct. 2238 (2011). “When the methodology is sound . . .
disputes about the degree of relevance or accuracy may go to
the testimony's weight, but not its admissibility.”
Id. at 852. “Perceived flaws in an
expert's opinion go to weight only if they fall within
the accepted norms of the discipline and have a
non-speculative basis in fact.” Multimatic, Inc. v.
Faurecia Interior Systems, USA, Inc., 358 Fed.Appx. 643,
654 (6th Cir. 2009). When parties take different approaches,
“the relative strengths and weaknesses may be exposed
at trial or attacked during cross-examination. Apple Inc. v.
Motorola, Inc., 757 F.3d 1286, 1315 (Fed. Cir. 2014). But,
expert testimony that is not grounded in “sufficient