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Porters Building Centers, Inc. v. Lumber

United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, St. Joseph Division

October 2, 2017

PORTERS BUILDING CENTERS, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
SPRINT LUMBER, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER AND OPINION (1) GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO STRIKE, AND (2) GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO EXCLUDE

          ORTRIE D. SMITH, SENIOR JUDGE

         Pending are Plaintiff's Motion to Strike (Doc. #260), and Defendants' Motion to Exclude (Doc. #261). For the following reasons, both motions are granted in part and denied in part.

         I. GOVERNING LAW

         The admission of expert testimony is governed by Rule 702 of the Federal Rules of Evidence.

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. The district court must make a “preliminary assessment of whether the reasoning or methodology underlying the testimony is scientifically valid and of whether that reasoning or methodology can be applied to the facts in issue.” Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharms., Inc., 509 U.S. 579, 592-93 (1993). The Court uses a three-part test when determining the admissibility of expert testimony:

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) (internal quotations and citations omitted). “Courts should resolve doubts regarding usefulness of an expert's testimony in favor of admissibility.” Marmo v. Tyson Fresh Meats, Inc., 457 F.3d 748, 758 (8th Cir. 2006) (citations omitted).

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Plaintiff's Expert

         Plaintiff designated Steve Browne as its expert. Browne is a certified public accountant, financial analyst, and fraud examiner. He holds undergraduate degrees in accounting and finance, and a master's degree in economics.

         (1) Causation Opinions

         Defendants argue Browne should not be permitted to express opinions about what caused Plaintiff's damages because opinions on causation implicate a question of law. Defendants also maintain Browne, an accountant, is not an expert on what former employees may legally do with respect to former employers' customers.[1]

         Plaintiff intends to call Browne to opine on Plaintiff's damages, and the cause(s) of Plaintiff's damages. Browne's opinions are based upon his knowledge and experience, his review of documents produced during the course of this matter, deposition testimony, Sprint Lumber's point of sales database, preliminary injunction briefing and exhibits, Defendants' responses and answers to discovery, and Defendants' expert's report. Doc. #262-1. The Court believes Browne is qualified to provide opinions about Plaintiff's damages and the cause(s) of those damages. The Court also finds that Browne's opinions, if accepted as true, will assist the jury. See Synergetics, Inc. v. Hurst, 477 F.3d 949, 955-56 (8th Cir. 2007) (finding the district court did not abuse ...


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