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Citizens Against Pollution v. Ohio Power Co.

August 14, 2006

CITIZENS AGAINST POLLUTION, PLAINTIFF,
v.
OHIO POWER COMPANY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Gregory L. Frost

Magistrate Judge Abel

OPINION & ORDER

Defendant Ohio Power Company ("OPC") moves the Court for an order excluding the testimony, report, and deposition testimony of Plaintiff Citizens Against Pollution's ("CAP") expert, Phyllis Fox, Ph.D., P.E. ("Fox"). (Doc. # 87). CAP objects to the motion. (Doc. # 89). For the reasons that follow, the Court GRANTS the motion in part and DENIES the motion in part. (Doc. # 87).

MOTIONS IN LIMINE

The Court exercises discretion over matters involving the admissibility and relevancy of evidence at trial. United States v. Seago, 930 F.2d 482, 494 (6th Cir. 1991).The nature of a motion in limine as well as the inquiry involved ruling on such motions is well settled:

Motions in limine are generally used to ensure evenhanded and expeditious management of trials by eliminating evidence that is clearly inadmissible for any purpose. See Jonasson v. Lutheran Child and Family Serv., 115 F.3d 436, 440 (7th Cir.1997). The court has the power to exclude evidence in limine only when evidence is clearly inadmissible on all potential grounds. Cf. Luce v. United States, 469 U.S. 38, 41 n.4 (1984) (federal district courts have authority to make in limine rulings pursuant to their authority to manage trials). Unless evidence meets this high standard, evidentiary rulings should be deferred until trial so that questions of foundation, relevancy and potential prejudice may be resolved in proper context. (citations omitted). Denial of a motion in limine does not necessarily mean that all evidence contemplated by the motion will be admitted at trial. Denial merely means that without the context of trial, the court is unable to determine whether the evidence in question should be excluded. The court will entertain objections on individual proffers as they arise at trial, even though the proffer falls within the scope of a denied motion in limine. See United States v. Connelly, 874 F.2d 412, 416 (7th Cir.1989) (citing Luce, 469 U.S. at 41) ("Indeed, even if nothing unexpected happens at trial, the district judge is free, in the exercise of sound judicial discretion, to alter a previous in limine ruling."). Hawthorne Partners v. AT & T Technologies, Inc., 831 F. Supp. 1398, 1400-01 (N.D.Ill.1993).

Indiana Ins. Co. v. General Elec. Co., 326 F. Supp.2d 844, 846-47 (N.D. Ohio 2004). Within this analytic framework, the Court will proceed to address the Daubert inquiry before turning to the pending motion in limine.

DAUBERT ANALYSIS

In Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993), the United States Supreme Court held that the Federal Rules of Evidence had superseded the "general acceptance" test of Frye v. United States, 293 F. 1013 (D.C. Cir. 1923), and that Rule 702 requires that trial judges perform a "gate-keeping role" when considering the admissibility of expert testimony. Daubert, 509 U.S. at 597. The relevant Federal Rule of Evidence is Rule 702, which provides:

If scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue, a witness qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education, may testify thereto in the form of an opinion or otherwise, if (1) the testimony is based upon sufficient facts or data, (2) the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods, and (3) the witness has applied the principles and methods reliably to the facts of the case.

Fed. R. Evid. 702. Further, the Supreme Court has made clear that Rule 702 applies not only to scientific testimony but also to other types of expert testimony based on technical or other specialized knowledge. See Kumho Tire Co., Ltd. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137, 147, 149 (1999).

The trial court's gate-keeping role is two-fold. First, the Court must determine whether the proffered testimony is reliable. See Daubert, 509 U.S. at 590. The reliability assessment focuses on whether the reasoning or methodology underlying the testimony is scientifically valid. Id. The expert's testimony must be grounded in the methods and procedures of science and must be more than unsupported speculation or subjective belief. Id. Thus, the proponent of the testimony does not have the burden of proving that it is scientifically correct, but that by a preponderance of the evidence, it is reliable. In re Paoli R.R. Yard PCB Litig., 35 F.3d 717, 744 (3rd Cir. 1994).

The Supreme Court in Daubert set out four non-exclusive factors to aid in the determination of whether an expert's ...


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