Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Expert Witness Testimony Allowed

Plaintiff sued defendant after he was involved in a fire alarm and was subsequently diagnosed with PTSD.  The defendant hired a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Expert Witness to provide testimony, which was challenged by the plaintiff.  The court denied the motion to exclude.

Facts:  This case (Hall v. Summit Fire District et al – United States District Court – District of Arizona – March 30th, 2018) involves a firefighter’s diagnosis of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) after a call to a fire.  The case revolves around whether his PTSD precludes his ability to work, accommodations available to him, and other issues.  The defendant hired Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Expert Witness Dr. John Beck to provide testimony.  The plaintiff filed a motion to exclude this expert witness testimony.

Discussion:  The plaintiff argues that Dr. Beck’s expert witness testimony should be excluded as unreliable as they have no basis in fact and that his testimony will not assist the trier of fact because he is not a qualified to opine on PTSD.

Regarding qualifications, Dr. Beck has been a board certified psychologist for 30 years and has treated hundreds of patients with PTSD, including police officers and veterans.  In addition, he has 16 years experience as a human resources director at a large hospital providing reasonable accommodation recommendations.  The plaintiff alleges that Dr. Beck’s specialty is in mild traumatic brain injury, does not have sufficient work experience with public safety officials with PTSD, and that he is unfamiliar with experts in the field of PTSD.  However, the court ruled that Dr. Beck is qualified to provide expert testimony in this case, based on his education and experience with PTSD.

The plaintiff also argues that Dr. Beck’s methodology and data do not support his conclusions.  The defendants allege that Dr. Beck conducted an interview with the plaintiff, administered numerous psychological and personality tests, and completed a forensic exam.  He also reviewed Hall’s psychiatric and therapy records and the report completed by Hall’s expert witness.  In addition, his opinions on reasonable accommodations was based on his experience as a human resources director and consultations with police departments in the implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  The court opined that Dr. Beck’s methodology supports his conclusions.

Last, the plaintiff argues Dr. Beck based his conclusions on logic without providing data to support them.  The court opined that this type of argument goes to the weight of the evidence, not the admissibility.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Expert Witness Dr. John Beck was denied.