Forensic Psychiatry Expert Witness and Psychology Expert Witness Allowed

Plaintiff sued Defendant related to child abuse violations from 1974 to 1981.  The Plaintiff hired a forensic psychiatry expert witness and a psychology expert witness to assist in his case.  The Defendant filed a motion to exclude the testimony of both of these experts.  The court denied the motion.

Facts:  This case (Christopher Hicks v. Barry Clark et al – United States District Court – Northern District of Illinois – August 8th, 2017) involves injuries of child abuse that the Plaintiff suffered while he was in the home of Gloria Jemison, a foster care parent, between February 1974 and April 1981.  The Plaintiff filed a “Section 1983” action alleging violations of due process, failure to intervene, and supervisory liability.  The Plaintiff hired Dr. Robert Galatzer-Levy (forensic psychiatry expert witness) and Dr. Ronald Davidson (psychology expert witness) to provide expert witness testimony.  The Defendant has filed a motion to exclude the expert testimony of these witnesses.

Discussion:  The Defendants argue that  Dr. Galatzer-Levy’s testimony does not meet the reliability test for qualification and trustworthiness as well as the relevancy requirement under Daubert.  The Defendants do not argue against his qualifications, which would be for naught, as the court noted that Dr. Galatzer-Levy has extensive experience working with children in the  Department of Children & Family Services (DCFS) system as well as children who have suffered abuse.

The Defendants argue that Dr. Galatzer-Levy’s testimony is unreliable because he never spoke directly to the Plaintiff about any damages.  In addition, they claim that there are no scientific methods that are testable for his conclusions.  Also, they claim that his testimony is not relevant because there is no commentary on distinguishing between injuries from certain time periods.

The court ruled against the Defendants, stating that it was unnecessary for Dr. Galatzer-Levy  to speak with Hicks directly, it being satisfactory that he rely on old documents.  This method is reliable as this is routine in his field.  Also, Dr. Galatzer-Levy’s testimony is relevant and will assist the trier of fact in determining whether Hicks could forget the details of his abuse and why it took long to report it.

In terms of Dr. Davidson, the Defendants seek to strike his testimony due to lack of reliability.  They argue that his report on the accuracy of Wright’s testimony should be inadmissible because his opinions are baseless, speculative, and inconsistent with the record.  The court again disagreed, stating that Dr. Davidson’s opinions do not directly judge Wright’s truthfulness, as they have views based on evidence that contradicts Wright’s testimony.  Thus, this motion was denied.

Conclusion:  The motions to exclude the expert witness testimony of Dr. Galatzer-Levy and Dr. Ronald Davidson are denied