The opinion of the court was delivered by: Elaine E. Bucklo United States District Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Defendant CITGO Petroleum Corporation ("CITGO") has filed a motion for summary judgment against plaintiffs Michael Lewis and Tammy Livingston (collectively "plaintiffs"). For the following reasons, the motion is granted.
Plaintiffs were employed by a company that contracted with CITGO and other defendants to perform work at a refinery located in Lemont, Illinois. CITGO owned, operated, maintained and/or controlled that refinery. Plaintiffs allege that while they worked at the refinery they were injured by breathing chemical fumes and that their injuries were caused by the negligent acts or omissions of CITGO and the other defendants.
The incident in question took place on March 11, 2001. Plaintiffs and CITGO workers were working on an elevated outdoor platform when they were exposed to hydrogen sulfide. Lewis fell on the platform as a result of a blast of gas. Plaintiffs and the CITGO workers then left the platform by climbing down. Lewis climbed down on his own.
Once on the ground, plaintiffs received treatment at the refinery from both CITGO emergency and local first response personnel. Plaintiffs were also taken by ambulance to the emergency room at a nearby hospital where they were physically examined. Plaintiffs returned to work the next day. In days following the incident, plaintiffs obtained follow-up medical care from Dr. Bess Metrou, a physician with a health practice contracted by CITGO to provide services for refinery employees. Specifically, Dr. Metrou examined plaintiffs on March 13, 15, and 20, 2001. Plaintiffs never sought any further medical treatment for any ailments related to the incident until a lawsuit was filed.
Both plaintiffs are cigarette smokers. As of 2003, Lewis had been a smoker for more than 15 years and Livingston for 10 years. To date, both plaintiffs continue to smoke half a pack of cigarettes a day.
Plaintiffs have described their injuries as follows. In May 2001, plaintiffs filed workers' compensation claims with the Illinois Industrial Commission ("IIC"). Plaintiffs were represented by counsel. In the IIC form, plaintiffs responded to the question "What part of the body was affected [as a result of the incident]?" as follows: "[e]ntire body affected, unknown yet as to result." In undated answers to interrogatories, Lewis described his injuries as headaches and ongoing breathing difficulties including shortness of breath and difficulty breathing. Additionally, the plaintiff has suffered headaches, nausea and lack of sex drive. As further stated above, the plaintiff is soon to undergo testing to ascertain whether the breathing difficulties are caused by occupational asthma, or some like condition, and will defer to the experts relative to whether any condition causing the headaches or breathing difficulties is related to the accident.
Also in undated answers to interrogatories, Livingston described her injuries as severe headaches and ongoing breathing difficulties. As further stated above, the plaintiff is soon to undergo testing to ascertain whether the breathing difficulties are caused by occupational asthma, or some like condition, and will defer to the experts relative to whether any condition causing the headaches or breathing difficulties is related to the accident.
In August 2003, plaintiffs were examined by Dr. Jordan Fink who diagnosed Lewis with occupational asthma related to exposure to chemicals as a result of the incident, and Livingston with "a bronchitic problem" and potentially a "sinus disease." Plaintiffs were also examined by Dr. Norman Kohn, a neurologist and psychiatrist, who diagnosed Lewis with persistent headaches and impaired concentration, and Livingston with persistent headaches and a mood disorder, possibly bipolar disorder. Dr. Kohn also opines that Livingston "very likely suffered posttraumatic stress disorder" immediately after the incident.
In moving for summary judgment, defendants first challenge the admissibility of the deposition testimony of Dr. Fink and Dr. Kohn - plaintiffs' expert witnesses. The admissibility of expert testimony is governed by Fed. R. Evid. 702, which reads.
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.
For expert testimony to be admitted under Rule 702, the movant must establish that the expert testimony is both reliable and would assist the trier of fact in understanding the evidence or determining a fact at issue in the case. See Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharms., Inc., 509 U.S. 579, 589-91 (1993). The primary purpose of Rule 702 is to avoid confusing and unreliable expert testimony. See id. ...