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McDonough v. JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A.

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

September 16, 2016

KIRK T. MCDONOUGH, Plaintiff,
v.
JPMORGAN CHASE BANK, N.A., et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          JEAN C. HAMILTON DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A.'s (“Chase”) Motion to Exclude the Testimony of Plaintiff's Expert Witness Evan Hendricks. (ECF No. 69.) The Motion has been fully briefed and is ready for disposition.

         BACKGROUND

         In April 2015, Plaintiff Kirk McDonough filed this action for damages asserting claims under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”). In his Amended Complaint, McDonough alleges as follows. Trans Union LLC (“Trans Union”) inaccurately reported that he had a mortgage with Chase that was included in Bankruptcy. He repeatedly disputed the inaccurate notation on his credit report with Trans Union and with Chase. Despite his repeated requests, Chase failed to perform a reasonable investigation into the matter, and failed to adequately report the results necessary to make his credit report accurate and complete. McDonough claims that Chase willfully violated the FCRA.

         In support of his claims, McDonough seeks to introduce the testimony of expert witness Evan Hendricks. In its Motion to Exclude, Chase contends Mr. Hendricks's expert testimony is inadmissible under both the Federal Rules of Evidence and the Supreme Court's rulings in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993), and Kumho Tire Co., Ltd. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137 (1999).

         LEGAL STANDARD

         Federal Rule of Evidence 702 governs the admissibility of expert testimony, and requires district courts “to perform a ‘gatekeeping' function and insure that proffered expert testimony is both relevant and reliable.” Dancy v Hyster Co., 127 F.3d 649, 651-52 (8th Cir. 1997) (citations omitted); see also Daubert, 509 U.S. at 589. Rule 702 provides that a court may permit opinion testimony from a witness qualified as an expert 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 upon 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 Eighth Circuit has summarized Rule 702 as a three-part test:

First, evidence based on scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge must be useful to the finder of fact in deciding the ultimate issue of fact…This is the basic rule of relevancy. Second, the proposed witness must be qualified to assist the finder of fact…Third, the proposed evidence must be reliable or trustworthy in an evidentiary sense, so that, if the finder of fact accepts it as true, it provides the assistance the finder of fact requires.

Lauzon v. Senco Prods., Inc., 270 F.3d 681, 686 (8th Cir. 2001) (quotation and citation omitted). The standard must be applied in view of the fact that “Rule 702 reflects an attempt to liberalize the rules governing the admission of expert testimony[, ]” and “[t]he rule clearly is one of admissibility rather than exclusion.” Id. (quotations and citation omitted).

         “The proponent of the expert testimony must prove its admissibility by a preponderance of the evidence.” Id. (citation omitted). “Decisions concerning the admission of expert testimony lie within the broad discretion of the district court.” Russell v. Whirlpool Corp., 702 F.3d 450, 455 (8th Cir. 2012) (quotation omitted).

         DISCUSSION

         Chase seeks to exclude the expert testimony of Mr. Hendricks on the following grounds: (1) that he is not qualified to testify as an expert; (2) that his opinions and conclusions are not reliable, do not fit the facts of the case, and will not aid the jury in its decision-making process; and (3) that his opinions and conclusions amount to nothing more than speculations and legal conclusions. (ECF Nos. 69, 70.)

         Upon consideration of the Parties' arguments, this Court concludes that Mr. Hendricks is qualified to serve as an expert in this case. He has served as an expert witness in numerous other cases across the country involving similar claims. In April 2016, a court in the District of Arizona determined that it “[could not] conclude that Mr. Hendricks [was] unqualified to opine as to standard credit reporting policies and procedures.” Zabriskie v. Fed. Nat'l Mortg. Ass'n, ...


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