Psychology Expert Witness Testimony Allowed

Plaintiff filed suit against defendant related to a motor-vehicle collision. Defendant hired a Psychology Expert Witness to provide testimony.  Plaintiff filed a motion to exclude this expert from testifying.  The court denied the motion to exclude.

Facts:  This case (Schmidt v. United States of America – United States District Court – Western District of Texas – May 10th, 2019) involves a motor-vehicle collision between the plaintiff and defendant, a United States Marine, who plaintiff alleges was acting in the course and scope of his employment with the United States Navy at the time of the accident.  The plaintiff alleges that he suffered a closed-head traumatic brain injury from the head-on collision.  As a result of the head injury, the plaintiff claims that he suffers from ongoing short-term memory loss and confusion.  The defendant has hired Dr. Kyle Brauer Boone (Psychology Expert Witness) to provide expert testimony.  The plaintiff has filed a motion to exclude this expert from testifying.

Discussion:  Dr. Boone will provide testimony on the cognitive deficits and neuropsychological symptoms that the plaintiff claims are attributable to the accident underlying the case.  The plaintiff argues that Dr. Boone’s testimony is not reliable because she failed to perform or examine neuropsychological testing on the plaintiff before rendering her opinions.  In addition, the plaintiff alleges that Dr. Boone did not review the raw test data from three tests that were performed on the plaintiff by other doctors.  Also, the plaintiff argues that her methodology is litigation-oriented rather than based on clinical practice.  Last, the plaintiff argues that Dr. Boone’s conclusions are not supported by a reasonable degree of medical certainty.

The court opines that Dr. Boone’s expert report and deposition show that she based her testimony exclusively on her review of the plaintiff’s medical records, the results of neuropsychological examinations by the plaintiff’s doctors, as well as the reports of the plaintiff’s experts, and plaintiff’s deposition testimony.

The court notes that since this case is a bench trial, rather than one before a jury, the court’s inquiry into reliability is less stringent.  Thus, the fact that Dr. Boone did not perform her own psychological testing or personally examine the plaintiff does not mean that her opinions are not reliable, but it does make her opinions less persuasive than the other experts who did examine the plaintiff.
The court also notes that Dr. Boone should also not be excluded as an expert in a bench trial due to her failure to review the raw data underlying the plaintiff’s doctors’ conclusions from their neuropsychological exams.  This issue, the court opines, is best discussed at cross-examination.
Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Dr. Kyle Brauer Boone is denied without prejudice.