Court Denies Daubert Motion Challenging Psychologist Expert Witness

Defendants’ challenge the expert witness testimony of psychologist based on reliability and relevancy.  The court denied the motion.

Facts:  – This case (A.H., et al. v. St. Louis County, Missouri, et al. – United States District Court – Eastern District of Missouri – Eastern Division – Augist 15th, 2016) involves an inmate in the St. Louis County Justice Center, Jereme M. Martwig, who, in February 2013, hanged himself.  The plaintiff, the decedent’s children and mother file suit against the city, psychiatrist Wendy Magnoli, and Herbert Bernsen, the director of the department of Justice Services.  The claims are deliberate indifference to Mr. Hartwig’s mental health care needs as well as failing to have an adequate  suicide prevention policy and training program.  In order to prove these claims, the plaintiff’s hired Richard Hayward, Ph.D (Psychology Expert Witness).

Dr. Hayward will be providing opinions on the effective of the current suicide prevention program in St. Louis County as well as the quality of the work provided by the mental health providers in the jail.  The defendants have filed a motion to exclude the expert opinions of. Dr. Hayward.

Discussion:  The defendants’ motion to court outline four opinions put forth by Dr. Hayward that they believe should be considered when deciding to exclude his opinions.  First, they argue that his opinions on whether the St. Louis Justice Department created and put forth an effect suicide prevention program before Mr. Hartwig’s suicide.  Second, whether the department created and implemented a successful suicide prevention training and supervision program for officers at the jail.  Third, whether or not the mental health providers at the jail assessed the level of suicide of Mr. Hartwig.  Last, whether the mental health administratie staff at the jail provided sufficient supervision of the mental haealth cliniciains at the jail.  The defendant claim that these opinions are not based on accurate data or facts, are not based on reliable principles and methods, and are irrelevant.  They do not challenge the qualifications of Dr. Hayward.

Dr. Hayward, in his report, states that the St. Louis County Justice Department did not create an effective suicide prevention policy as well as successful suicide prevention training program for correctional officers.  He also opined that the providers who treated Mr. Hartwig failed to access his level of suicide risk and that the supervisory staff did not provide enough management of the jail’s mental heath clinicians.

Dr. Hayward details the foundations as to how he came up with this opinions.  The sources that he used include: investigative and incident report, Mr. Hartwig’s medical history, the St. Louis County Justice Department’s policies, procedures, and training documents on suicide.

The court finds that these are sufficient resources to use to come to his conclusions and they were articulated well.  The court also finds that the defendants have not justified their motion to exclude this expert witness testimony.  Any arguments that the defendants have go to the weight of the testimony rather than the admissibility and they will have enough opportunity to challenge Dr. Hayward’s opinions on cross examination.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Dr. Hayward are thus denied.