Chemistry Expert Witness Testimony Not Allowed

Plaintiffs filed suit against defendants alleging that the defendants police officers entered their house illegally.  They hired a Chemistry Expert Witness to provide testimony, which the defendants wished to exclude.  The court granted the motion to exclude.

Facts:  This case (Blevins et al v. Kirk et al – United States District Court – Eastern District of Kentucky – March 20th, 2018) involves a civil rights claim.  The plaintiffs allege that their civil rights were violated when the defendants, police officers, entered their home, alleging that they smelled marijuana from outside the home.  The plaintiffs allege that the testimony by the police officers that they smelled marijuana was false and misleading.  In order to prove their case, the plaintiffs hired Chemistry Expert Witness Dr. Warren James Woodford regarding marijuana odor.  The defendants have filed a motion to exclude this expert witness testimony.

Discussion: Dr. Woodford opined that it was impossible for the defendant to smell the marijuana in the house because humans cannot detect the smell past 40 feet.  His opinion is based on a study published by the University of Alaska in 2011 and a supplement from 2012.  The 2012 supplement found that the distance one can smell marijuana is 56.8 feet.  In addition, Dr. Woodford stated that he relied on news reports to form his opinion as well as statements made my police officers.

The court ruled that none of these factors support reliability under Daubert.  Dr. Woodford admitted that the University of Alaska reports were not scientific studies, but stated that he performed scientific analysis on the studies.  In addition, his theories cannot be properly tested and his theories on marijuana smell wouldn’t be generally accepted by his peer group.  In addition, the court stated that Dr. Woodford’s additional research were done solely in preparation for litigation.  Thus, the expert witness opinions of Dr. James Woodford will not be allowed.

The plaintiffs also maintain that Dr. Woodford’s opinions were not properly disclosed under Rule 26(a)(2).  The court opined that the reports were submitted in time and they will be allowed in terms of the ruling on the pending summary judgment motion.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Dr. Warren James Woodford was granted.