Child Psychiatry Expert Witness Testimony Allowed in Part in Sexual Assault Case

Summary: Child Psychiatry Expert Witness expert witness testimony allowed in part even though the expert argued that the plaintiff will suffer future psychological pain due to the incident at her school.

Facts:  This case (McCoy v. Isidore Newman School et al – United States District Court – Eastern District of Louisiana – September 28, 2022) involves a claim by a former student against her alma mater.  The plaintiff, Mary Claire L. McCoy, alleges that she was sexually assaulted at her school by another student and that the school should be held liable for the incident.  To support her claims, the plaintiff hired Child Psychiatry Expert Witness Dr. Eileen Ryan.  The defendant has filed a motion to exclude this expert from testifying.

Discussion:  The plaintiff states that Dr. Ryan will testify on her past, present, and future psychological pain as well as the impairment that she has suffered because of the incident.  The defendant is not challenging Dr. Ryan’s qualifications, but does argue that her expert opinions should be excluded because she testifies about matters that are irrelevant, she relies on an outdated chart. along with other claims.

The court first notes that Dr. Ryan’s expert witness report has a recitation of the facts of the case, and in some cases contested facts are posed as truths.  These opinions, the court finds, are not allowed under Daubert as they would undermine the role of the jury.

In addition, the court opines that some of Dr. Ryan’s report are not relevant in the case.  For example, the mental health of the plaintiff’s friend does not have any relevance in the current case.  Also, any narratives by the plaintiff’s family members about other family members is not relevant, and will be excluded.

Also, the court notes that a section entitled, “Prognosis, Permanency, and Related Health Risks” is not prefaced to be her opinion and are listed as something that may happen to Mary.  This section will also be excluded, according to the judge.

Last, the court also excludes the section where it describes that the plaintiff has symptomology that is consistent with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  The court opines that this section does not have any indication of medical certainty and will confuse the jury.  The court also notes that the other arguments by the defendant go to the weight of the evidence and not their admissibility, and will be allowed.

Conclusion:  The expert witness report of Dr. Eileen Ryan is granted in part and denied in part.