United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Western Division
NANETTE K. LAUGHREY JUDGE
Cass County, Missouri, Sheriff Jeff Weber, and Sheriff Deputy
Mike Klinefelter move to exclude the testimony of
Plaintiffs' retained expert, Charles Stephenson. Doc. 38.
For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' motion is
granted in part and denied in part.
Gary Jacobson has filed suit against Weber and Klinefelter
asserting claims for excessive use of force, negligent
infliction of emotional distress, and battery arising from
his arrest on the morning of June 27, 2017, at the Adesa Auto
Auction in Belton, Missouri. To assist with his presentation
of the case, Jacobsen has retained Charles Stephenson as a
police practices expert. See Doc. 39-1 (Charles
Stephenson Expert Report).
concerning the admission of expert testimony lie within the
broad discretion” of the Court. Anderson v. Raymond
Corp., 340 F.3d 520, 523 (8th Cir. 2003). Pursuant to
Federal Rule of Evidence 702, a witness properly qualified as
an expert may testify in regard to their “scientific,
technical, or other specialized knowledge” so long as
it serves to “assist the trier of fact to understand
the evidence or determine a fact in issue.” But
“[o]pinions that ‘merely tell the jury what
result to reach' are not admissible.” Lee v.
Andersen, 616 F.3d 803, 809 (8th Cir. 2010).
ask the Court to exclude Stephenson's testimony, in its
entirety, pursuant to Federal Rule of Evidence 702.
Defendants do not contest the knowledge or qualifications of
Stephenson; instead, they argue that Stephenson's
testimony will not be helpful to the jury and will invade the
province of the Court because Stephenson offers only
“legal conclusions, convenient speculation, conjecture
and surmise.” Doc. 39 (Defendants' Suggestions in
Support of Their Motion to Exclude), p. 10. Stephenson's
proffered opinions are listed within twelve paragraphs in his
expert report, each numbered by the parties. Plaintiffs have
withdrawn a number of the statements, leaving only the
opinions in paragraphs one, two, three, and five, as modified
in Plaintiffs' suggestions in opposition, for the Court
Opinion Regarding Violation of Department Policy (Paragraph
first opinion states: “Deputy Klinefelter was, at the
time of this incident, acting under color of law with the
unjustified purpose of enforcing a private company's
internal policies, rules and procedures versus enforcing
state law or constitution at the time of the incident.”
Doc. 46, p. 4. Defendants argue that this opinion should be
excluded because it is “an irrelevant opinion and legal
conclusion about a violation of department policy.”
Doc. 52 (Defendants' Reply Suggestions in Support of
Their Motion to Exclude), p. 6.
the fact that a violation of departmental guidelines is not
necessarily constitutionally unreasonable, see Cole v.
Bone, 993 F.2d 1328, 1334 (8th Cir. 1993)
(“[U]nder section 1983 the issue is whether the
government official violated the Constitution or federal law,
not whether he violated the policies of a state agency.
Conduct by a government official that violates some state
statutory or administrative provision is not necessarily
constitutionally unreasonable.”), does not mean that a
deviation from policy is irrelevant, see Scherrer v. City
of Bella Villa, No. 4:07-CV-306 (CEJ), 2009 WL 690186,
at *4 (E.D. Mo. Mar. 10, 2009) (concluding “[e]pert
testimony that [the officer] departed from routine police
procedure . . . could potentially be relevant to the
determination of whether the amount of force used was
reasonable, or whether [the officer] acted with malice, which
would be relevant to his official immunity defense”).
Nor is an opinion as to whether Klinefelter's conduct was
consistent with department policy a legal conclusion. See
Id. (permitting testimony regarding whether officer
departed from routine police procedure). Thus, Stephenson may
offer his opinion as to whether Klinefelter was enforcing
ADESA rules and whether such a purpose was appropriate under
standard police practice and procedure.
Opinions Regarding State of Mind and/or Intent (Paragraphs 2
second opinion states: “Deputy Klinefelter's use of
force against Jacobsen was an unwarranted use of force
against Jacobsen initiated by Klinefelter acting under color
of law to inflict injury and suffering on Jacobsen in a
punitive manner.” Doc. 46, p. 4. Stephenson's third
opinion states: “The arrest of Jacobsen for
trespassing, interfering with or resisting arrest and
assaulting a law enforcement officer was unjustified by facts
known to Klinefelter and was a pre-textual attempt by. . .
Deputy Klinefelter to justify his punitive force against
Jacobsen. Jacobsen's defensive acts were a reasonable
response to force by the deputies.” Id.
assert that Klinefelter's state of mind is relevant to
whether he is entitled to official immunity on
Plaintiffs' section 1983 claim as well as whether he had
the requisite intent to commit battery. However, this does
not negate the fact that an expert “is not competent to
testify as to the state of mind of others.” Sanders
v. Studdard, No. 12-01069-CV-W-GAF, 2014 WL 3487145, at
*7 (W.D. Mo. Feb. 12, 2014); see also Scherrer, 2009
WL 690186, at *3 (excluding speculative testimony regarding
officer's state of mind). Stephenson's statements and
conclusions regarding whether Klinefelter acted with intent
“to inflict injury and suffering on Jacobsen in a
punitive manner” and whether his arrest of ...