Psychology Expert Witness Testimony Allowed in Part

Plaintiff filed suit against the defendants related to a civil rights claim.  The defendant hired a Psychology Expert Witness to provide testimony.  The plaintiff filed a motion to exclude this expert from testifying.  The court granted the motion in part and denied it in part.

Facts:  This case (CFB EX REL. BAKER v. Hayden – United States District Court – District of Kansas – August 8th, 2019) involves a claim of violations of civil rights.  The plaintiff, a minor, by and through her grandmother and next friend, brings this action against the defendants, claiming that they violated her civil rights when they unlawfully seized her from her grandparents’ driveway.  The defendant has hired Dr. Milfred Dale, Ph.D., J.D. (Psychology Expert Witness) to provide testimony.  The plaintiff has filed a motion to exclude this expert from testifying.

Discussion:  Dr. Dale was hired by the defendants to conduct an evaluation of the plaintiff and her caretakers to determine any mental health injuries or conditions that were incurred by the plaintiff.

First, the plaintiff argues that Dr. Dale’s statements and rhetorical questions asked about the restrictions on information for his evaluation are not relevant to his conclusions about the mental state of the plaintiff.  In addition, the plaintiff argues that Dr. Dale’s assessment of the grandparents infringes on the critical role of the jury by speaking to their credibility.  Also, the plaintiff argues that Dr. Dale’s questions to the grandparents related to PTSD is not relevant to his conclusion about the plaintiff’s mental state.  Last, the plaintiff argues that Dr. Dale’s discussion about the background information about the plaintiff’s family members are not relevant or reliable.

Regarding the relevance of Dr. Dale’s expert witness testimony, the court opines that Dr. Dale does not state an opinion based on facts or data, but creates an inference in the form of a rhetorical question.  Thus, the court opines that because Dr. Dale’s statements are not based on scientific facts or evidence, the proper place for this argument  is best done via cross-examination rather than expert testimony.

Next, the plaintiff argue that several of Dr. Dale’s comments about the scheduling and conditions of the interview should not be admitted because they are attorney argument couched in expert testimony.  The court agrees, and excludes this portion of Dr. Dale’s expert opinion.

Also, the plaintiff argues that Dr. Dale’s questions to the grandparents about their knowledge of PTSD, encoding, and other mental conditions are not relevant to his conclusion about the plaintiff’s lack of mental trauma.  The court opines that this portion of Dr. Dale’s report will help the trier of fact to determine a fact at issue.

Last, the plaintiff alleges that Dr. Dale’s comments on the plaintiff’s family’s background are not admissible.  The court opines that this part of the motion is denied.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Dr. Milfred Dale is granted in part and denied in part.