Economics Expert Witness Testimony Allowed in Part

Plaintiff sued defendant related to damages from an industrial accident.  The defendant hired an Economics Expert Witness to provide testimony.  The plaintiff filed a motion to exclude this expert from testifying.  The court granted the motion in part and denied it in part.

Facts:  This case (Reynolds v. Western Sugar Cooperative – United States District Court – District of Nebraska – August 20th, 2019) involves an industrial accident at the defendant’s refinery in Scottsbluff, Nebraska.  The plaintiff was severely burned at the refinery and the defendant has conceded liability for the accident.  The parties are disputing the nature and extent of Reynold’s damages, which includes the amount of lost earnings and the cost of medical care and other services.  The defendant has hired Economics Expert Witness Eric C. Frye to provide testimony.  The plaintiff has filed a motion to exclude this expert from testifying.

Discussion:  The court notes that Frye has a Bachelor of Arts degree an a Master of Business Administration in Finance and Economics.  In addition, the court states that he has twenty-five years’ experience in investment banking, business evaluation, and financial analysis.  In addition, he is a certified financial analyst.

The plaintiff alleges that Frye provides opinions that exceed the scope of his expertise that move into the areas of vocational rehabilitation and life care planning.  The defendant states that Frye’s opinions fall within the scope of his experience and expertise.

The plaintiff first argues that Frye has not properly opined that Reynolds should move from his home in Wyoming to Colorado in order to take advantage of a higher minimum wage rate.  The court opines that Frye’s opinions based on Reynolds’s vocational future are not improper, irrelevant, and so so unreliable and misleading which would require exclusion at this stage.

The court opines that Frye does not make any normative statement about where Reynolds should live and Frye’s calculations of Reynolds’s potential earnings loss are framed as alternatives to possible choices that Reynolds might make in the future.

The court notes that Reynolds can challenge Frye’s opinions at cross-examination and by presenting contrary evidence.

In addition, Reynolds’s argument that Frye’s opinions are within the scope of a life care planner, and not an economist, the court similarly opines that his arguments go more to the weight of the evidence, and not the admissibility.

The court also opines that Reynolds’s motion challenges opinions that Frye does not actually give.  In addition, the court states that Reynolds’s arguments are based on false premises and gross distortions of Frye’s opinions.

The court does opine, however, that Frye’s discussion of household services, such as the potential impact of psychiatric treatment, does appear to move beyond his states area of expertise.  The court opines that Frye may not opine about Reynolds’s medical need for household services.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Eric C. Frye is granted in part and denied in part.