Plaintiff United States government indicted defendant for knowingly soliciting investors into ventures that he knew would not produce a profit. Government hired an Oil & Gas Expert Witness and a Securities Expert Witness to provide expert witness testimony. The defendant filed a motion to exclude, which was denied by the court.
Facts: This case (UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff, v. RONNIE C. RODGERS, Defendant – United States District Court – Eastern District of Kentucky – July 25th, 2018) involves a claim by the United States government that the defendant solicited investors in numerous oil & gas ventures knowing that said ventures would not produce enough oil and gas to furnish a return on investments. To assist in proving their case, the government hired two experts as witnesses: Marvin Combs (Oil & Gas Expert Witness) and Chad Harlan (Securities Expert Witness). The defendant has filed a motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of these two experts.
Discussion: The defendant claims that the two expert witnesses should be excluded because their testimony is based on their own views and not on research or publication. In addition, the defendant argues that their testimony will not assist the jury in determining the outcome of the case.
The court opines that Mr. Combs is qualified to provide testimony about the production of oil wells in the south central part of Kentucky as well as how much oil one well would be expected to produce. He has worked for numerous years at the Kentucky Division of Oil and Gas and has previously testified about the expected yield of an oil well drilled in central Kentucky. In addition, the court states that Mr. Combs’s testimony will assist the jury in determining whether the defendant’s representations to investors was credible or false.
The defendant also states that Mr. Combs’s statements are not peer reviewed or based on scientific studies. The court opines however, that it is not necessary for Mr. Combs to have subjected his expert opinion to peer review or to test his hypothesis.
Mr. Harlan has worked in the Kentucky Department of Financial Institutions and has spent 18 years reviewing back records and investment documents to check compliance with regulations. He has also received training in white collar financial crimes investigations and examinations of financial records. Thus, he is qualified to offer an opinion in this case.
The defendant argues that Mr. Harlan’s opinions will not assist the jury, but the court opines that it will as a layperson will most likely not have the required background to understand the kind of information the defendant should have disclosed to his investors. In addition, the court states that most lay persons are not well-versed in oil investing and securities.
Last, the defendant states that Mr. Harlan’s opinions are not the product of scientific studies. But the court opines that his testimony does not lend itself to scholarly review of scientific evaluation.
Conclusion: The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Marvin Combs and Chad Harlan is denied.