The opinion of the court was delivered by: MORTON DENLOW, Magistrate Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
This case comes before this Court on Defendants' Motion to
Exclude Expert Testimony of Paul F. Byrnes. This motion was
referred by District Judge Mark Filip for resolution pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). An oral argument on the motion was held
before this Court on October 11, 2005, and the Court announced
its rulings from the bench. This memorandum opinion provides
additional explanation for the Court's rulings. To the extent
this memorandum opinion conflicts in any way with the Court's
oral rulings, this memorandum opinion shall control.
The plaintiff, Ronald E. Haager, Sr. ("Plaintiff"), filed a
four-count complaint against Chicago Rail Link, LLC ("CRL"), CSX
Transportation ("CSXT"), and CSX Intermodal, Inc. ("CSXI")
(collectively "Defendants") claiming that he injured his right
knee while trying to force open the inner cab door on a locomotive owned by CSXT.
Counts I and II of the complaint, brought against CRL, are based
upon the Federal Employer's Liability Act ("FELA"),
45 U.S.C. § 51 et seq., and the Federal Locomotive Inspection Act ("LIA"),
49 U.S.C. § 20701 et seq. Count III, brought against CSXT, and
Count IV, brought against CSXI, are both negligence claims. All
four counts arise from the same incident and are premised on the
same allegations of wrongdoing.
On March 29, 2004, Plaintiff was employed by CRL as a
locomotive engineer. He was assigned to perform switching work
using locomotives owned and maintained by CSXT. The work
transpired at the Bedford Park intermodal terminal operated by
CSXI. When Plaintiff attempted to open the front engine cab door
on a locomotive, CSXT 4767, with a broken door handle or latch
mechanism, he injured his right knee. Plaintiff was diagnosed
with a torn medial meniscus and had an arthroscopic procedure
Pursuant to Rule 26(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure, Plaintiff disclosed to Defendants the identity of his
expert witnesses along with written reports, prepared and signed
by the experts, disclosing the opinions each expert witness will
offer, the information considered by the witness in forming the
opinions, the qualifications of the witness, and other relevant
information related to the witness' testimony. Paul F. Byrnes
("Byrnes") was included on the expert witness list. On his
curriculum vitae, Byrnes describes himself as a
"consultant/attorney at law."
From 1970 through 1989, Byrnes worked as a locomotive engineer.
He then attended the University of Colorado where he received his
bachelor of science degree in 1993. Following his undergraduate studies, Burns enrolled in the
University of Colorado School of Law and received his juris
doctor in 1996. During law school, Byrnes spent three more years
working as a locomotive engineer. After law school, Byrnes worked
as an associate at a law firm for one year. He spent the next two
years working at three different firms as a consultant or legal
advisor. Then, in 1998, Byrnes joined the Federal Railroad
Administration ("FRA"), which is an agency within the United
States Department of Transportation. He worked as a trial
attorney at the FRA until 2001. Following the FRA, Byrnes
returned to Colorado and became an associate at a law firm. He
worked in the litigation department of the law firm until 2003.
As noted above, Byrnes is now a consultant/attorney at law.
In his expert opinion report, Byrnes gives ten opinions on the
case. Those opinions gave rise to this motion by Defendants.
The leading case addressing the admissibility of expert
testimony is Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc.,
509 U.S. 579 (1993). In Daubert, the Supreme Court stated that a
district court has a "gatekeeping role" of ensuring that an
expert's testimony is both reliable and relevant. Id. at 597.
In the Seventh Circuit, the principles set forth in Daubert and
Federal Rule of Evidence 702 ("Rule 702") specifically govern the
admission of expert testimony. Smith v. Ford Motor Co.,
215 F.3d 713
, 717 (7th Cir. 2000). Rule 702 mandates that expert
testimony must satisfy the following standard:
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. Preliminary questions concerning the
qualifications of an expert witness or the admissibility of
evidence are determined by the court. FED. R. EVID. 104(a). The
party that proffers an expert's testimony bears the burden, by a
preponderance of proof, of establishing its admissibility. Dukes
v. Illinois Cent. R. Co., 934 F. Supp. 939, 946 (N.D. Ill.
1996). Therefore, this Court must determine if Byrnes' expert
testimony is both reliable and relevant. Kunz v. City of
Chicago, 2004 WL 2980642, at *5 (N.D. Ill. Dec. 23, 2004).
A. Reliability of Expert Testimony
1. Expert's Qualifications
An expert's reliability depends upon both the qualifications of
the expert and the methodology used by that expert. Smith,
215 F.3d at 718; Kunz, 2004 WL 2980642 at *5. An expert's
qualifications, however, need not be based on academic pedigree
alone. Kunz, 2004 WL 2980642 at *5. Practical experience and
training may serve as proper bases of expertise. FED. R. EVID.
702 (stating that a witness can be qualified as an expert through
"knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education."); Tysus
v. Urban Search Mgmt., 102 F.3d 256, 263 (7th Cir. 1996)
(concluding that "genuine expertise may be based on experience or
training"). In the instant case, Byrnes possesses over twenty years of
experience working as a locomotive engineer. He spent nine years
with the Illinois Central Railroad Company in Chicago, Illinois;
twelve years with the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway Company
in Denver, Colorado; one year with Amtrak in Seattle, Washington;
and three years with the United States Department of
Transportation's Transportation Technology Center in Pueblo,
Colorado. In addition to Byrnes' significant practical
experience, he worked as a consultant ...