United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
OPINION AND ORDER
L. GRAHAM UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Wallake Power System, LLC, d/b/a Graham Ford, Inc., brought
this diversity action against defendants Engine Distributors,
Inc. (EDI) and Jerry Kosner for defamation, tortious
interference with a business relationship, and a violation of
the Ohio Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
first stage of a bifurcated jury trial was held from December
9 to December 12, 2019. In the first stage, the jury found in
favor of plaintiff on all three claims on the issue of
liability. The case then proceeded to a damages stage.
Plaintiff first called Chris Wallake, the owner and of sole
proprietor of Graham Ford, as a fact witness. After Mr.
Wallake's examination, plaintiff indicated that it would
offer no other lay witnesses and was prepared to call its
damages expert, Glenn Sheets.
point, on December 13, the Court conducted a Daubert
hearing. Defendants had filed a pretrial motion to exclude
Mr. Sheets from testifying at trial on the ground that his
opinions would not be supported by the facts in the record.
The Court had reserved a ruling on the motion until plaintiff
had offered into evidence at trial all facts in support of
its claim for damages. During the hearing, counsel for both
parties were afforded to opportunity to examine Mr. Sheets.
Additionally, the Court posed numerous questions of Mr.
Sheets. The parties submitted legal arguments on the matter
through pretrial briefs.
full consideration of the parties' arguments, the
applicable law, the evidentiary record developed at trial,
and the proffered testimony and Report of Mr. Sheets, the
Court GRANTS defendants' motion to exclude the testimony
of Mr. Sheets. As discussed below, the Court concludes that
the opinions of Mr. Sheets lack a foundation in the factual
record and that his methodology does not reliably fit the
facts of the case.
trial court serves as a gatekeeper to ensure that expert
testimony is both reliable and relevant. Federal Rule of
Evidence 702 provides:
A witness who is qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill,
experience, training, or education may testify in the form of
an opinion or otherwise if:
(a) the expert's scientific, technical, or other
specialized knowledge will help the trier of fact to
understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue;
(b) the testimony is based on sufficient facts or data;
(c) the testimony is the product of reliable principles and
(d) the expert has reliably applied the principles and
methods to the facts of the case.
Fed. R. Evid. 702.
Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509
U.S. 579 (1993), the Supreme Court held that the trial court
must “ensure that any and all scientific testimony or
evidence admitted is not only relevant, but reliable.”
Daubert, 509 U.S. at 589. This gatekeeping
obligation applies to all expert testimony. Kumho Tire
Co. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137, 141 (1999)
expert opinion must be grounded in a reliable method and
procedure. It must be “more than subjective belief or
unsupported speculation.” Daubert, 509 U.S. at
590. The “[p]roposed testimony must be supported by
appropriate validation-i.e., ‘good grounds,' based
on what is known.” Id.
702 additionally requires that the testimony assist the trier
of fact “to understand the evidence or to determine a
fact in issue.” Fed.R.Evid. 702(a). The issue of
“fit” is “not always obvious, and
scientific validity for one purpose is not necessarily
scientific validity for other, unrelated purposes.”
Daubert, 509 U.S at 591.
faced with the proffer of expert testimony, the trial court
“must determine whether the expert is proposing to
testify to (1) scientific knowledge that (2) will assist the
trier of fact to understand or determine a fact in
issue.” Daubert, 509 U.S. at 592 (footnote
omitted). “This entails a preliminary assessment of
whether the reasoning or methodology underlying the testimony
is scientifically valid and of whether that reasoning or
methodology properly can be applied to the facts in
issue.” Id. at 592-93. “[T]he proponent