Law Enforcement Expert Witness Testimony Not Allowed in Carjacking Case

Plaintiff filed suit against defendants related to a carjacking in the parking lot of defendant’s store.  Plaintiff hired a Law Enforcement Expert Witness to provide testimony.  Defendant filed a motion to exclude.  The court granted the motion.

Facts: This case (Lilley v. CVS Health, et al. – United States District Court – District of Mexico – March 22nd, 2019) involves a carjacking in the parking lot of the defendant’s store.  The plaintiff alleges that the exterior cameras did not detect the incident and that the parking lot was dangerous well be before the incident date.  The plaintiff alleges that the defendants acted in a negligent manner by not keeping the parking lot safe for business patrons by providing enough security to protect the plaintiff against the foreseeable acts of third parties.  The plaintiff has hired Elizabeth Thomson (Law Enforcement Expert Witness) to provide testimony.  The defendant has filed a motion to exclude this expert from testifying.

Discussion:  The defendant argues that the Thomson does not have the specialized knowledge that would help a jury to understand the evidence or to determine material facts because she is not a commercial premises security expert.  In addition, the defendant alleges that Thomson is not familiar with commercial premises security as she lacks familiarity with industry standards.  The court opines that Thomson’s experience with crime prevention on real property sufficiently qualifies her as an expert whose specialized knowledge would help a jury to understand the evidence.

The defendant also argues that Thomson did base her opinions on sufficient facts or data because her expert report did not refer to any studies, empirical data, or industry sources.  The court notes that Thomson attached to her report a list of case numbers and corresponding incident numbers for a three-year period prior to the shooting and carjacking incident.  The court opines that quantity of data is enough to establish a criminal history of the defendant’s store and parking lot.  The court further notes that whether the data is qualitatively reliable goes to the weight of the opinions, not their admissibility.

The defendant also argues that the defendant did not employ any coherent methodology in reaching her conclusions.  The court opines that Thomson does not cite any publications, studies, research, or industry standards when asked to explain her methodology at her deposition.  In addition, Thomson did not explain in her report or at her deposition how she determined from her data that the parking lot created a dangerous condition.  The court states that Thomson did not explain how or why she reached her opinions nor provided a methodology that can be tested or subjected to peer review.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Elizabeth Thomson is granted.