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United States v. Traylor

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

May 16, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
MILLICENT TRAYLOR, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER DENYING MOTION TO EXCLUDE TESTIMONY OF DR. SAHUL

          ROBERT H. CLELAND, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         The Government's superseding indictment charges Defendant Millicent Traylor with one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1349, one count of conspiracy to pay and receive health care kickbacks in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371, and five counts of health care fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1347.

         The Government intends to call Dr. Yasmin Sahul to testify at trial. Defendant has filed a motion in limine to exclude the doctor's testimony based on Federal Rules of Evidence 401, 403, 701, and 702. (Dkt. # 156.) The parties discussed the motion on the record at a status conference on May 10, 2018, and the Government subsequently filed its response. (Dkt. # 158.) Upon review of the parties' briefs, the court concludes that the proposed testimony is admissible and will deny Defendant's motion.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Metro Mobile Physicians (“Metro Mobile” or “the clinic”) was a medical treatment clinic in Detroit, Michigan owned by Jacklyn Price. It was a Medicare provider and submitted claims directly to Medicare. (Dkt. # 1, Pg. ID 33.) Defendant worked at Metro Mobile as an unlicensed physician-a medical school graduate who has not obtained a medical license. Dr. Sahul worked at Metro Mobile for four days in March of 2015 before she quit. During that time she assessed and treated six patients while working alongside Dr. Janarthanan. Undisputedly, she never worked with or met Defendant.

         II. STANDARD

         Evidence may be introduced at trial only if it is relevant. “Evidence is relevant if: (a) it has any tendency to make a fact more or less probable than it would be without the evidence and (b) the fact is of consequence in determining the action.” Fed.R.Evid. 401. Proposed evidence will be deemed relevant if it is probative of one of the elements of the crimes charged in the indictment. Relevant evidence is generally admissible, Fed.R.Evid. 402; however, the court may exclude evidence from trial that is relevant, if its “probative value is substantially outweighed by a danger of . . . unfair prejudice, confusing the issues, misleading the jury, undue delay, wasting time, or needlessly presenting cumulative evidence.” Fed.R.Evid. 403. “Evidence is unfairly prejudicial when it ‘tends to suggest decision on an improper basis, ' but is not unfairly prejudicial when it only damages the defendant's case due to the legitimate probative force of the evidence.” United States v. Houston, 813 F.3d 282, 291 (6th Cir. 2016) (quoting United States v. Bonds, 12 F.3d 540, 567 (6th Cir.1993)).

Regarding witness testimony,
If a witness is not testifying as an expert, testimony in the form of an opinion is limited to one that is:
(a) rationally based on the witness's perception;
(b) helpful to clearly understanding the witness's testimony or to determining a fact in issue; and
(c) not based on scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge within the scope of Rule 702.

Fed. R. Evid. 701. Opinion testimony of an expert witness-a person qualified by “knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education”-is not so limited. Fed.R.Evid. 702. An expert witness may testify in the form of an opinion if:

(a) the expert's scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will help the trier of fact to understand the evidence ...

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