Psychology Expert Witness Testimony Allowed

Plaintiff filed suit against defendant related to a claim under the American’s with Disabilities Act. Defendant seeks an order to allow its Psychology Expert Witness to testify.  The court granted the motion to allow the expert to testify.

Facts:  This case (Weiss v. Macy’s Retail Holdings Inc. – United States District Court – Southern District of New York – November 19th, 2019) involves a claim under the American’s with Disabilities Act of 1990.  The plaintiff, David Weiss, alleges that the defendant Macy’s discriminated against him based on his learning disability. Weiss’s disability compromises his brain functioning involving certain executive functions and cognitive processes. Weiss has filed this lawsuit against Macy’s for failure to provide reasonable accommodation. Macy’s is seeking an order allowing its Psychology Expert Witness, Professor Marla Brassard, Ph.D., to testify at trial.

Discussion: Dr. Brassard conducted a two-day, in-person examination of Weiss and performed an extensive review of numerous documents. Dr. Brassard concluded that Weiss does not have Specific Learning Disorder with any impairments in reading. In addition, Dr. Brassard concluded that Weiss is a “competent reader.” Macy’s thus challenges Weiss’s purported learning disorder.

The court first opines that Dr. Brassard is qualified to be an expert witness in this case. She has nearly four decades as a professor and has amassed academic and clinical experience in psychoeducational evaluation. In addition, she has consulted on requests for testing accommodations for neurodevelopmental and mental health disorders.

In addition. the court opines that Dr. Brassard’s opinions are sufficiently reliable. The court notes that Dr. Brassard has gathered numerous data points, which include her own examination of Weiss and review of other documentary evidence. Also, the court states that Dr. Brassard explains the tests that she administered  and how she applied her knowledge of the DSM-V to the data that she gathered.

The court also notes that Weiss contends that Dr. Brassard gave excessive weight to Weiss’s academic history and not enough weight to Weiss’s need for informal accommodations. The court opines that these disputes goes to the weight of the testimony, not the admissibility and can be explored during cross-examination.

Also, the court opines that Dr. Brassard’s testimony will likely assist the trier of fact in this case.  The court states that Weiss’s cognitive abilities are at issue in this case and that a competent expert will be able to assist the trier of fact in evaluating his condition.

Conclusion: Dr. Brassard’s expert witness testimony will be allowed.