Plaintiff sued defendant related to interference with business interests and improper access to trade secrets. Plaintiff hired a Supply Chain Expert Witness to provide testimony. Defendant filed a motion to exclude this expert from testifying. The court granted the motion.
Facts: In this case (Keystone Transportation Solutions, LLC v. Northwest Hardwoods, Inc et al – United States District Court – Western District of Virginia – April 19th, 2019), the plaintiff alleges that the defendants, one of which was previously the plaintiff’s president and now works for the defendant, interfered with its business interests and improperly gained access to confidential trade secrets underlying a Shipper Savings Model. The plaintiff has appointed David Steffens (Supply Chain Expert Witness) to provide expert testimony. The defendant has filed a motion to exclude this expert from testifying.
Discussion: The defendants first argue that Steffens’s testimony is not reliable because he has a direct financial stake in the outcome of the litigation. The defendants note that Steffens admitted that he will receive forty-five percent of any recovery by the plaintiff, which certainly gives him a direct financial stake in the outcome of the litigation. The court concludes that Steffens should not be permitted to testify as an expert because of the clear bias he has as a result of his direct financial incentives in the outcome of this case. The court notes that allowing him to offer expert opinions would be misleading to the jury.
In addition, the court finds that Steffens is not qualified to offer his opinions. The plaintiff states that Steffens is being offered as an expert in the general field of transportation logistics. The plaintiff states that Steffens has decades of experience in the more general field of transportation logistics. The court notes that it tends to agree with both parties as to Steffens’s experience. The court states that he is not an expert in “forest products logistics” because he has too little experience in that specific and narrow field. The court further states that he probably could qualify as an expert in “transportation logistics”. The court opines that many of Steffens’s opinions to do not fall into either of those fields.
In addition, the court agrees with the defendants that many of Steffens’s opinions are unreliable because they are based on subjective belief and not based on any reasoned methodology. The court also opines that many of Steffens’s opinions are merely the plaintiff’s narrative of the events at issue offered under the guise of expert testimony.
Last, the court notes that some of Steffens’s opinions are impermissible legal conclusions.
Conclusion: The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of David Steffens is granted.