Mathematical Sciences Expert Witness Testimony Allowed in Wheat Futures Litigation

Summary: Mathematical Sciences Expert Witness testimony allowed even though the defendants argued that the expert’s report lacks meaningful independent analysis and that his analysis is just an application of another expert in this case.

Facts:  This case (Ploss v. Kraft Foods Group, Inc. et al – United States States District Court – Northern District of Illinois – October 28, 2022)  involves a claims under the Commodity Exchange Act and the Sherman Anti-Trust Act.  The plaintiff, Harry Ploss, alleges that the defendants, Kraft Food Group and Mondelez Global, had a large position of wheat futures, attempting to have an influence on prices.  In addition, the plaintiff also alleges that that Kraft engaged in market manipulation as they engaged in wash trades and reported it to the public as legitimate transactions.  Ploss hired Mathematical Sciences Expert Witness Charles Robinson to provide expert witness testimony.  The defendant filed a motion to exclude this expert from testifying.

Discussion: The court notes that Robinson received his undergraduate degree in mathematics and worked as an auditor and an accountant.  He then formed and managed a commodity Brokerage.  In addition, the court states that he has testified as an expert witness in four other cases involving  manipulation of commodity futures contracts.

The court also notes that Robinson’s testimony is relevant to the current case and that his methodology is reliable.  In addition, the court states that Robinson’s testimony would be of assistance to the jury in evaluating Kraft’s conduct.  The defendants argue that Robinson’s Trading Calculations and Cost Calculations should be excluded.

The defendants allege that Robinson should not be permitted to provide any opinions or justifications about the methodology or data that he used in his calculations.   The court noted that the plaintiffs have not looked to offer Robinson’s opinions as to anything outside his report, thus the court opines that there is no harm in allowing the testimony.

In addition, the defendants state that Section VI of Robinson’s report lacks meaningful independent analysis and that his analysis is just an application of another expert in this case.  The court opines that there is nothing objectionable about an expert relying on the work of a colleague.  Thus, the court will not exclude Robinson’s expert witness testimony on this argument.

Also, the defendants claim that Robinson’s Cost Calculations should be excluded because 1) they are not expert testimony, 2) are not the product of reliable methodology, and 3) would be misleading to the jury.  The court opined that these are better addressed to Robinson at cross-examination.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude Charles Robinson’s expert witness testimony is denied.