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Bostick v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co.

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division

June 20, 2017

LISA N. BOSTICK, Plaintiff,
v.
STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant.

          ORDER

          VIRGINIA M. HERNANDEZ COVINGTON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This cause is before the Court pursuant to Defendant State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company's Motion to Strike Certain Expert Opinions and Testimony of Robert W. Johnson and James A. Mills (Doc. # 51), filed May 4, 2017. Plaintiff Lisa N. Bostick filed a Response in Opposition to Defendant's Daubert Motion on June 5, 2017. (Doc. # 62). State Farm filed a Reply Memorandum on June 19, 2017. (Doc. # 69). For the reasons that follow, the Court denies the Motion.

         I. Background

         Bostick filed the Complaint in state court against State Farm seeking payment of underinsured motorist benefits related to a car accident that occurred on November 14, 2013. (Doc. # 2). The case was removed by State Farm on June 2, 2016, based on complete diversity of citizenship. (Doc. # 1).

         On June 29, 2016, the Court entered its Case Management and Scheduling Order setting December 19, 2016, as Bostick's deadline to disclose expert reports. (Doc. # 13). Later, Bostick filed an Unopposed Motion for Extension of Time to Complete Discovery, which was granted, and her expert disclosure deadline was extended to February 14, 2017. (Doc. ## 34-35).

         Bostick has retained economic experts, Robert W. Johnson and James A. Mills, of Robert W. Johnson & Associates, to offer expert testimony at trial. (Doc. # 51). On February 13, 2017, Bostick disclosed Johnson and Mills' “Economic Impact Report” to State Farm. (Doc. # 51-1). Both experts utilized the same methodology in their calculations and jointly prepared the report. (Id.). The report contains the economists' opinions about two types of damages: (1) the value of Bostick's future medical expenses and life care needs; and (2) the expected value of Bostick's future lost income. (Id.).

         At this juncture, State Farm seeks an Order striking Johnson and Mills' opinions concerning Bostick's future lost earnings or loss of earning capacity on the grounds that “those opinions are not based on sufficient facts or data.” (Doc. # 51 at 6). State Farm explains in its reply, “Defendant's motion to strike (Doc. 51) only seeks this Court to enter an order striking Johnson and Mills' opinions related to the expected value of Plaintiff's future lost income.” (Doc. # 69 at 1).

         II. Discussion

         Federal Rules of Evidence Rule 702, which governs the admissibility of expert testimony, states that:

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 methods; and (d) the expert has reliably applied the principles and methods to the facts of the case.

Fed. R. Evid. 702.

         When a party raises an objection to an expert's testimony, the Court must perform its gatekeeping duties to determine whether the expert testimony “is not only relevant, but reliable.” Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharm., 509 U.S. 579, 589 (1993). When deciding Daubert issues, the trial judge has broad discretion in how the review is conducted. Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137, 152 (1999). Usually, “the rejection of expert testimony is the exception rather than the rule.” See Advisory Committee Notes to the 2000 Amendment to Rule 702.

         The Eleventh Circuit has adopted a three-part analysis for determining whether expert testimony is admissible under Daubert and Rule 702:

To fulfill their obligation under Daubert, district courts must engage in a rigorous inquiry to determine whether: (1) the expert is qualified to testify competently regarding the matters he intends to address; (2) the methodology by which the expert reaches his conclusions is sufficiently reliable as determined by the sort of inquiry mandated in Daubert; and (3) the testimony assists the trier of fact, through the application of ...

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