Economics Expert Witness Testimony Allowed in Part

Plaintiff filed suit against the defendant after allegedly being injured on a boat owned by defendant.  Plaintiff hired an Economics Expert Witness to provide testimony, which was challenged by defendant under Daubert.  The court granted the motion in part and denied the motion in part.

Facts:  This case (Streit v. Halverson – United States District Court – Western District of Missouri – August 8th, 2018) involves a personal injury claim.  The plaintiff alleges that she was a passenger on a boat owned and operated by the defendant.  The plaintiff also alleges that she sustained injuries after becoming airborne when the boat encountered large wakes.  The plaintiff claims that the defendant breached his duty of care when he failed to keep a lookout, operated the boat while distracted, and drove at an excessive speed.  The plaintiff hired Economics Expert Witness Stan Smith, Ph.D to provide testimony on her behalf.  The defendant has filed a motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Dr. Smith.

Discussion:  Dr, Smith has been a forensic economist for over 40 years.  The defendant argues that Dr. Smith’s testimony should be excluded because 1) he is not qualified to provide an opinion on the plaintiff’s disability, and 2) his calculations are not based on sound economic principles, rely on one article, does not account for the plaintiff’s current employment, and employs duplicative damages.

First, the defendant alleges that Dr. Smith does not have any medical training and is thus not qualified to provide opinions about the plaintiff’s disability.  The court agrees with the defendant and opines that Dr. Smith will be precluded from providing any medical opinions in this case.  Dr. Smith will be allowed to testify that the existence of a disability could result in a net lost earning capacity.

The court also opines that Dr. Smith is well-qualified to testify as an expert in the fields of economics and finance.  He has been involved in the field of forensic economics for over 40 years and has published scholarly articles and textbooks in the field of forensic economics.  The court opines that Dr. Smith has the knowledge, skill, and training in his field and has been recognized as an expert in courts across the country for more than three decades.

The court also concludes that Dr. Smith’s testimony on impairments to wages and benefits is reliable.  In addition, the court finds that the article pointed to by Dr. Smith for estimating the plaintiff’s lost earning capacity is a reliable source for that purpose.  The court also opines that the rest of the arguments made by the defendant go to the weight of the testimony and not the admissibility.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Stan Smith, Ph.D is granted in part and denied in part.

 

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