Statistics Expert Witness Testimony Allowed in Thread-Count Consumer Class Action

Summary: Statistics Expert Witness testimony is not excluded by the court even though the defendant argued that expert’s preliminary analysis was not reliable.

Facts: This case (Sara Hawes v. Macy’s Stores West, Inc – United States District Court – Southern District of Ohio – January 22nd, 2022) involves a consumer class action complaint whereby the plaintiff argues that Macy’s has misrepresented the thread-counts in a set of sheets, Chief Value Cotton, that they sell.  Hawes claims that Macy’s was aware that consumers know that a higher count thread means softer, more comfortable sheets.  Hawes has hired Statistics Expert Witness Stefan Boedeker to provide testimony.  Macy’s has filed a motion to exclude this expert from testifying.

Discussion:  Boedeker has 25 years of experience in the fields of statistics and economics and has taken on numerous damages cases like the current case.  The court states that he is qualified to provide expert witness testimony in this case.

The court notes that Boedeker has conducted a “preliminary analysis” showing that the higher the thread count, the higher the prices.  The court opines that Boedeker’s proposed methods are a reliable way to determine class wide damages.  Macy’s argues that Boedeker’s work is not complete, his methodology is unreliable, and he does not provide “supply-side” issues in his modeling.

First, the court opines that it will not toss Boedeker’s expert opinion because his report is not complete.  The court goes further, by stating that Macy’s does not challenge Boedeker’s qualifications or the reliability of his expert opinions or argue that his methodology constitute “junk science.”  The court notes that if Boedeker’s variable selection becomes scewed, Macy’s should feel free to explore this issue during cross-examination.

In addition, Macy’s argues that Boedeker’s expert opinion is unreliable because his datasets are based on ticket price, rather than actual price.  The court opined that it is not discouraged by this as the preliminary analysis is used in support of the idea that a class action model is possible.  The court further explains that Macy’s arguments do not rise to the level of excluding this expert or striking his report.

Also, the court maintains that there is no reason to exclude Boedeker’s expert opinion because of an alleged failure to consider supply-side issues.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Stefan Boedeker is denied.