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Hubble v. County of Macomb

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

April 23, 2019

RUSSELL HUBBLE, as Personal Representative of the Estate of JENNIFER LYNN MEYERS, Deceased, Plaintiff,
v.
COUNTY OF MACOMB, et al., Defendants.

          David R. Grand United States Magistrate Judge

          OPINION AND ORDER (I) GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO PRECLUDE PLAINTIFF FROM ELICITING EXPERT TESTIMONY FROM L.J. DRAGOVIC. M.D. ŒCF NO. 81) and (2) DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO FILE A SUR-REBUTTAL ŒCF NO. 95)

          PAUL D. BORMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This action involves the tragic death of Jennifer Meyers, a 37-year-old woman who died as a result of acute sepsis while serving a thirty-day sentence on an outstanding bench warrant at the Macomb County Jail. Her Estate has filed suit against Macomb County, the Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham (collectively "the Macomb County Defendants"), Correct Care Solutions, LLC ("CCS"), the health care provider for the jail, and several CCS staff.[1] The Complaint alleges that the Defendants caused Ms. Meyers's death by being deliberately indifferent to her medical needs and thus violating her rights under the Eighth Amendment to be free from cruel and unusual punishment.

         The CCS Defendants now move to preclude Plaintiff from eliciting expert testimony from Dr. Dragovic, M.D., regarding alleged constitutional violations or causation. (ECF No. 81.) Plaintiff has filed a Response (ECF No. 89), CCS has filed a Reply (ECF No. 92), following which Plaintiff filed a Motion to Allow Plaintiff to File a Sur-Rebuttal Response to CCS Defendants' Reply (ECF No. 95), to which the CCS Defendants have filed a Response (ECF No. 98). The Court held a hearing on the motion on January 24, 2019. For the reasons that follow, the Court DENIES the motion to file a sur-rebuttal and GRANTS the motion to preclude Dr. Dragovic's opinions and testimony.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The background facts of this action are set forth in great detail in an Opinion and Order issued this same day resolving the Defendants' motions for summary judgment. Facts that are specifically relevant to the Daubert issues raised here will be mentioned in the analysis section.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         "Admissibility of expert testimony is governed by Federal Rule of Evidence 702 and informed by the seminal case applying Rule 702, Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579, 113 S.Ct. 2786, 125 L.Ed.2d 469 (1993)." In re Southeastern Milk Antitrust Litigation, 739 F.3d 262, 276 (6th Cir. 2014). Fed.

         R. Evid. 702 provides:

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.

Fed. R. Evid. 702.

         "[T]he rules of evidence - especially Rule 702 - do assign to the trial judge the task of ensuring that an expert's testimony both rests on a reliable foundation and is relevant to the task at hand." Daubert, 509 U.S. at 597. The trial court's "gatekeeping" task with respect to expert testimony applies not just to scientific evidence, as was at issue in Daubert, but to all types of specialized knowledge presented through an expert witness. Kumho Tire Co., Ltd. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137, 148-49 (1999). ""[T]he relevant reliability concern may focus upon personal knowledge or experience... [as] there are many different kinds of experts, and many different kinds of expertise." Id. at 150. The Court must analyze separately the proposed expert's qualifications, reliability and helpfulness.

         The Sixth Circuit has noted that absolute certainty is not required of an expert but that sheer speculation, regardless of the qualifications of the speculator, lacks sufficient reliability:

Rule 702, we recognize, does not require anything approaching absolute certainty. SeeDaubert, 509 U.S. at 590, 113 S.Ct. 2786. And where one person sees speculation, we acknowledge, another may see knowledge, which is why the district ...

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