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Edwards v. McElliotts Trucking, LLC

United States District Court, S.D. West Virginia, Huntington Division

August 22, 2017

RICHARD EDWARDS, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
McELLIOTTS TRUCKING, LLC; DANNY McGOWAN, individually and as an employee of McElliotts Trucking, LLC and/or as agent of Cardinal Transport; CARDINAL TRANSPORT, INC.; HAROLD MIDKIFF, individually as agent driver of McElliotts Trucking, LLC and/or as agent driver of Cardinal Transport, Inc., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          ROBERT C. CHAMBERS, CHIEF JUDGE

         Pending before the Court is Defendant Cardinal Transport LLC's Motion in Limine to Exclude Expert Testimony and Life Care Plan of Lisa Westfall. ECF No. 100. For the following reasons the Court DENIES the Motion.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff Richard Edwards was injured while assisting in loading large metal rods onto the trailer of a semi-truck. One of the rods, weighing almost 2, 000 pounds, fell from the truck and struck Edwards in the leg. Edwards' leg was severely injured and the lower part of it was amputated.

         In support of his claim for damages, Edwards engaged the services of life care planner Lisa Westfall as an expert witness. Westfall reviewed reports created by a Dr. Richard Vaglienti and Nick Wheeler and compiled a life care plan that explains the future medical care needed by Edwards for his injury. Dr. Vaglienti's report contains a list of recommendations of medical devices and services he will need as a result of his injury. Wheeler's expert report recommended certain prosthetics, orthopedic equipment, and physical therapies that Edwards will need as a result of the loss of the lower portion of one of his legs. Westfall relied on these reports to create a life care plan that attempts to quantify and explain the cost of the medical services, prosthetics, physical therapy, and orthopedic care that Edwards will need over the course of his life.

         Cardinal contends that Westfall is not qualified to give expert opinion and her life care plan is not admissible pursuant to Federal Rule of Evidence 702. Cardinal argues that Westfall is not a medical doctor and therefore is not qualified to testify to medical care, treatment, and therapies. Cardinal further insists that Westfall's opinions in her life care plan were based on recommendations of Dr. Vaglienti and Wheeler, which were rendered with a degree of certainly below “a reasonable degree of medical certainty, ” and therefore, Westfall's report is irrelevant and inadmissible under Rule 702. The Court cannot agree.

         II. Legal Standard

         Federal Rule of Evidence 702 states:

         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. Rule 702 was restyled in 2000 to the reflect the changed approach to admissibility issues of expert testimony. The new approach, which was ushered in by the Supreme Court decision in Daubert v. Merrel Dow Pharmaceuticals Inc. refocused the analysis of expert admissibility to the reliability of the methodology used by the expert and away ...


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