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Tompkins-Holmes v. Gualtieri

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

March 30, 2018

DYLAN TOMPKINS-HOLMES, Plaintiff,
v.
ROBERT GUALTIERI, in his Capacity as Sheriff of Pinellas County, Florida, and TIMOTHY VIRDEN, individually, Defendants.

          ORDER

          VIRGINIA M. HERNANDEZ COVINGTON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court pursuant to Deputy Timothy Virden's Motion to Exclude Certain Opinion Testimony of Kami Chavis (Doc. # 86), filed on December 13, 2017. Plaintiff Dylan Tompkins-Holmes responded on January 12, 2018. (Doc. # 95). Virden replied on January 26, 2018. (Doc. # 105). For the reasons that follow, the Motion is granted and Professor Chavis's expert testimony is excluded in its entirety.

         I. Legal Standard

         Federal Rule of Evidence 702 states:

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.

         Implementing Rule 702, Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993), requires district courts to ensure that any and all scientific testimony or evidence admitted is both relevant and reliable. See Id. at 589-90. Such Daubert analysis also applies to non-scientific expert testimony. Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137, 147 (1999). District courts must conduct this gatekeeping function “to ensure that speculative, unreliable expert testimony does not reach the jury under the mantle of reliability that accompanies the appellation ‘expert testimony.'” Rink v. Cheminova, Inc., 400 F.3d 1286, 1291 (11th Cir. 2005).

         The Eleventh Circuit “requires trial courts acting as gatekeepers to engage in a ‘rigorous three-part inquiry.'” Hendrix v. Evenflo Co., 609 F.3d 1183, 1194 (11th Cir. 2010). The district court must assess 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 scientific, technical, or specialized expertise, to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue.

Id. The proponent of the expert testimony bears the burden of showing, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the testimony satisfies each of these requirements. Id. The Court will address each aspect of the three-part inquiry below.

         II. Analysis

         This is a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 excessive force case involving the shooting of Tompkins-Holmes by Deputy Virden. The excessive force claim against Deputy Virden has survived summary judgment. (Doc. # 108). The Court granted summary judgment for Sheriff Gualtieri on the municipal liability § 1983 claims (Doc. # 113), and Sheriff Gualtieri settled the remaining vicarious liability battery and negligence claims against him with Tompkins-Holmes. (Doc. # 121). Therefore, only the excessive force claim against Deputy Virden survives.

         Here, Tompkins-Holmes disclosed Professor Chavis's expert report on September 25, 2017, the day of the expert report deadline. (Doc. # 87 at 1; Doc. # 49). After providing a narrative of Tompkins-Holmes's shooting, Professor Chavis's expert report primarily discusses Sheriff Gualtieri's policies and Deputy Virden's prior uses of force as an example of Sheriff Gualtieri's alleged failure to train and supervise on the use of force. The report concludes:

In my opinion, the failure to identify and retrain or reassign Deputy Virden demonstrates inadequate supervision and oversight. Similarly, given the widespread use of body-worn cameras and policies involving the retention of video and audio evidence in officer-involved shootings, the failure to retain the video or equip the deputies with body-worn ...

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