United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division
CHARLENE EDWARDS HONEYWELL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court upon the Defendants' Motion
to Strike Expert Testimony of Arthur Young (Doc. 74),
Plaintiffs' response in opposition, (Doc. 85),
Defendants' Motion to Strike Testimony of Plaintiffs'
Expert Witness, Larry Gibbs Turner (Doc. 75), and
Plaintiffs' response in opposition (Doc. 84). The Court,
having considered the motions, heard argument from counsel
and being fully advised in the premises, will grant-in-part
and deny-in-part Defendants' Motion to Strike Expert
Testimony of Arthur Young and will grant-in-part and
deny-in-part Defendants' Motion to Strike Testimony of
Plaintiffs' Expert Witness, Larry Gibbs Turner.
Michael Bratt and Marjorie Youmans allege in this action that
Deputy George trespassed onto their private residential
property without cause or reasonable suspicion of criminal
activity. See Doc. 41 at 2. As described in this
Court's Order on the Defendants' Motions for Summary
Judgment (Doc. 151), Deputy George was responding to a noise
complaint made by the Plaintiffs' neighbors. After
speaking to the neighbors, he approached the Plaintiffs'
property, jumped over the four foot fence surrounding it and
knocked on the door. Bratt opened the door, upon which Deputy
George informed him he was with the Hernando County
Sheriff's Office and showed his badge. The events that
happened next are in dispute. Bratt essentially accused
Deputy George of trespassing, Youmans began to move towards
Deputy George and Bratt put his arm across her chest to
prevent her from approaching Deputy George. Deputy George
yelled “domestic violence” and pushed open the
door. Bratt attempted to shut the door, Deputy George tasered
Bratt, and an altercation ensued. The encounter led to the
arrest of both Plaintiffs. During the course of the arrest,
Bratt and Deputy George suffered injuries that resulted in
parties dispute the circumstances surrounding the physical
altercation between Bratt and Deputy George. Plaintiffs
retained the services of Arthur Young, an expert in forensic
serology, DNA analysis, and bloodstain analysis. Young reviewed
photographs of the bloodstains on the floor, on the walls,
and throughout the house. He also reviewed photographs of
Bratt and Deputy George taken after the incident. Plaintiffs
argue that Young's testimony is essential because
bloodstain analysis, including directional blood flow, time
lapse, and drip and spatter patterns, are beyond the
knowledge of the average juror, and are therefore appropriate
for expert testimony.
also retained the services of Larry Gibbs Turner to opine on
the constitutionality of Deputy George's actions and
whether they conformed to the requirements set forth in the
Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution regarding
searches and seizures. Mr. Turner opined that Deputy George
violated the Fourth Amendment because he did not have a
warrant, probable cause or any other exceptions to the
warrant requirement available to him to justify his trespass
on the property. Plaintiffs argue that Turner's testimony
is essential to explain the constitutional law and police
procedure regarding entry onto private property, exigent
circumstances permitting law enforcement to enter private
property, and the legal standards of care applicable to law
enforcement officers in these situations, which are beyond
the knowledge of the average juror.
702 governs the admissibility of expert testimony. It states:
A witness who is qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill,
experience, training, or education may testify in the form of
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.
Evid. 702. In Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuiticals,
Inc., the Supreme Court charged district courts with a
“gatekeeping function” of “ensur[ing] that
any and all scientific testimony or evidence is not only
relevant, but reliable.” 509 U.S. 579, 589 (1993).
See also United States v. Frazier, 387 F.3d 1244,
1260 (11th Cir. 2004) (en banc). Accordingly, the admission
of such testimony is a matter within the discretion of the
district court. Cook ex rel. Estate of Tessier v. Sheriff
of Monroe Cnty., Fla., 402 F.3d 1092, 1108 (11th Cir.
2005). In performing its gatekeeping function, the Court must
(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 scientific, technical, or
specialized expertise, to understand the evidence or to
determine a fact in issue.
Frazier, 387 F.3d at 1260 (quoting City of
Tuscaloosa v. Harcros Chem., Inc., 158 F.3d 548, 562
(11th Cir. 1998)). The proponent of the challenged expert
opinion testimony carries the burden of proving its
reliability by a preponderance of the evidence. Id.
(citing Daubert, 509 U.S. at 592-93 & n. 10).
disclosed Mr. Young as an expert on the subject of bloodstain
pattern analysis. He made several opinions based on his
review of photographs from the scene of the incident.
Defendants argue that Mr. Young's opinions do not comport
with the reliability threshold set forth in Daubert
and request that his testimony be excluded from trial.
Specifically, Defendants argue that merely viewing
photographs is not a scientific methodology under
Daubert and the assumption that all red or brown
stains in the photographs is faulty due to lack of testing.
Further, Defendants challenge three specific opinions: 1) Mr.
Bratt bled a minimum of 15 minutes, Young
Report at 4; 2) Deputy George did not crawl to
the front door to unlock it based on the drip pattern in the
photographs, id. at 9, 11, 13; and 3) Deputy
George's head did not strike the table. Id. at
Young issued a 27-page report and sat for a deposition. He
reviewed 40-50 photographs, 25 of which are in his report.
Young Dep. 61:19-21. He also examined and
photographed the shorts Bratt was wearing on the date of the
incident. Young Report at 15-22. Mr. Young did not visit the
property where the incident occurred, Young Dep. 55:1-2; did
not interview the Plaintiffs or any other witnesses,
id. at 55:3-9; and did not remove samples from
Bratt's shorts for analysis. Id. 68:23-69:2. Mr.
Young did not conduct testing to confirm that the images in
the photographs represented blood, or to determine whose
blood it was. Young Dep. at 81:11-18, 162:17-25,
163:24-164:2. Young admits to several limitations in his
opinions including that he is not able to determine that a
substance is blood by looking at a photograph, id.
at 163:5-9; testing is required to confirm the presence of
blood, id. at 171:14-18; and his conclusions are
limited by the quality of the photographs. Id. at
argue both that Mr. Young is not qualified as an expert in
bloodstain analysis and that his ...