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Union Pacific Railroad Co. v. Colony National Insurance Co.

United States District Court, D. Nebraska

February 23, 2018

UNION PACIFIC RAILROAD COMPANY, Plaintiff,
v.
COLONY NATIONAL INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          Laurie Smith Camp Chief United States District Judge

         This matter is before the Court on the parties' motions in limine submitted pursuant to Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharms., Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993), and Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137 (1999). In Plaintiff's Motion, ECF No. 194, Union Pacific Railroad Company (UP) seeks to exclude testimony of Defendant's expert witness, Sharon Van Dyck. In Defendant's Motion, ECF No. 197, Colony National Insurance Company (Colony) seeks to exclude testimony of UP's expert witness, Joseph R. Farris. For the reasons discussed below, the Motions will be denied, without prejudice to the parties raising their respective objections at the time of trial.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Federal Rule of Evidence Rule 702 allows for the admission of expert opinions.

         Rule 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.

         In light of Daubert and Kumho Tire, [1] this Court must screen proffered expert testimony for relevance and reliability. See Bland v. Verizon Wireless, (VAW) L.L.C., 538 F.3d 893, 896 (8th Cir. 2008). A reliable opinion must be based on scientific methodology rather than on subjective belief or unsupported speculation. See Turner v. Iowa Fire Equip. Co., 229 F.3d 1202, 1208 (8th Cir. 2000). In assessing reliability, the Court should consider factors including whether the proposed expert's theory, methodology or technique: 1) can be and has been tested; 2) has been subjected to peer review; 3) has a known or potential rate of error; and 4) is generally accepted by the relevant community. Bland, 538 F.3d at 896. This list of factors is not exclusive, and this Court is allowed “great flexibility” in its analysis. Jaurequi v. Carter Mfg. Co., 173 F.3d 1076, 1082 (8th Cir. 1999).

         The expert's information or opinion must also “assist” the trier of fact in understanding or determining a fact in issue. Fed.R.Evid. 702(a). “This condition goes primarily to relevance.” Daubert, 509 U.S. at 591.

         Throughout the Court's assessment of the admissibility of an expert's opinion, Daubert makes clear that the Court “should also be mindful of other applicable rules, ” such as Fed.R.Evid. 403, [2] which states:

The court may exclude relevant evidence if its probative value is substantially outweighed by a danger of one or more of the following: unfair prejudice, confusing the issues, misleading the jury, undue delay, wasting ...

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