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Paine v. Johnson

February 25, 2010

KATHLEEN PAINE, AS GUARDIAN OF THE ESTATE OF CHRISTINA ROSE EILMAN, A DISABLED PERSON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
OFFICER JEFFREY JOHNSON, OFFICER, RICHARD CASON, OFFICER ROSENDO MORENO, LIEUTENANT CARSON EARNEST, SERGEANT DAVID BERGLIND, DETENTION AIDE SHARON STOKES, OFFICER TERESA WILLIAMS, DETENTION AIDE CYNTHIA HUDSON, DETENTION AIDE CATONIA QUINN, OFFICER DEBORAH MABERY, OFFICER PAMELA SMITH, OFFICER BENITA MILLER, OFFICER PAULINE HEARD, AND CITY OF CHICAGO, A MUNICIPAL CORPORATION, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Virginia M. Kendall

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Kathleen Paine ("Paine"), as Guardian of the Estate of Christina Rose Eilman ("Eilman"), filed this suit against the City of Chicago and various members of the Chicago Police Department (collectively, "Defendants"), alleging violations of Eilman's constitutional rights and violations of federal and Illinois law. As more fully set forth in this Court's Memorandum Opinion and Order dated February 22, 2010, Paine brings this suit on behalf of Eilman, her daughter, for injuries that Eilman incurred after the Chicago Police Department released her from custody. Paine has now moved to exclude all or parts of the proposed testimony of eight expert witnesses. Defendants have moved to exclude all or parts of the proposed testimony of seven expert witnesses.

For the reasons stated below, Defendants' Omnibus Motion to Exclude Certain Expert Testimony is granted in part and denied in part as to the expert testimony of Dr. Joel A. Dvoskin.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

The admissibility of expert testimony is governed by Federal Rule of Evidence 702 ("Rule 702") and Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993) and its progeny. See Ervin v. Johnson & Johnson, Inc., 492 F.3d 901, 904 (7th Cir. 2007). Rule 702 states: "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." The Seventh Circuit has developed a three-step admissibility analysis for expert testimony under Rule 702 and Daubert. See Ervin, 492 F.3d at 904. First, "the witness must be qualified 'as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education.'" Id. (quoting Fed.R.Evid. 702). Second, "the expert's reasoning or methodology underlying the testimony must be scientifically reliable." Id. (citing Daubert, 509 U.S. at 592-93). Courts are, however, granted "broad latitude when [they] decide[] how to determine reliability." Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S 137, 142 (1999). Finally, the expert's testimony must be relevant, or "assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue." Ervin, 492 F.3d at 904.

DISCUSSION

I. Paine's Motion to Bar the Expert Testimony of Dr. Joel Dvoskin

Dr. Joel Dvoskin ("Dvoskin") is a clinical and forensic psychologist who opines that: 1) Eilman's behavior in Chicago was indicative of mental illness and psychiatric crisis; 2) Eilman was a disabled person; 3) because of her mental illness, Eilman was gravely disabled in that she was unable to provide for her basic physical needs, and should have been taken for psychiatric evaluation and treatment; 4) each individual Defendant knew or should have known, from observation of Eilman's behavior while in custody, that she was a disabled person in need of psychiatric assistance; 5) Defendants' failure to provide mental health assistance to Eilman was deliberately indifferent to her obviously serious psychiatric needs; 6) the Chicago Police Department ("CPD") violated Eilman's rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"); 7) Sergeant Berglind had no training in the assessment or diagnosis of mental illness and thus Eilman's interview with him was not adequate to determine whether she had a serious mental illness; 8) the CPD and individual Defendants each had a duty to provide Eilman with access to psychiatric assessment and necessary services, and failed to do so; and 9) the standard of care for treatment of individuals with serious mental illness includes discharge planning, even for incarcerated individuals. (See R. 565, Ex. A, Expert Report of Dr. Joel A. Dvoskin, at 19-20.) (hereinafter "Dvoskin Rep.") Defendants argue that Dvoskin is not qualified to offer certain of his opinions and that others are irrelevant because they are impermissible opinions about the credibility of witnesses or constitute inadmissible legal conclusions. The Court held a hearing to determine the admissibility and scope of Dvoskin's testimony.

A. Qualifications

Defendants do not challenge Dvoskin's qualifications to testify as a psychological expert. According to his Curriculum Vitae, Dvoskin has more than three decades of experience as a psychologist, including a full-time private practice for the last fifteen years in forensic psychology. (See R. 565, Ex. B, Curriculum Vitae of Joel A. Dvoskin, Ph.D.). The Court accordingly finds him qualified on the basis of his education and extensive experience to offer expert testimony on psychological matters. See Reilly v. Blue Cross & Blue Shield United of Wisc., 846 F.2d 416, 421 (7th Cir. 1988) (reviewing experts' curricula vitae in order to support an unchallenged finding that the experts were qualified in their fields).

Defendants do argue, however, that Dvoskin is not qualified to testify concerning the dangerousness of the neighborhood into which Eilman was released, to opine that Eilman's release directly led to her assault and severe injuries, or to offer the legal conclusion that Defendants violated the ADA. Only the first of these three challenges directly relates to the issue of Dvoskin's qualifications; the second and third challenges involve the relevance of an expert witness's testimony as to legal conclusions, which the Court will address below. Dvoskin's Report frequently refers to the dangerous nature of the neighborhood into which Eilman was released, but he does not offer this as an independent expert opinion of his own. Dvoskin mentioned his view of the neighborhood several times during his lengthy deposition testimony, and Defendants' counsel chose not to inquire as to the basis for this observation. (See R. 605, Ex. B, Deposition Testimony of Joel A. Dvoskin, Ph.D., at 97, 269, 272.) (hereinafter "Dvoskin Dep.") At no point, however, does Dvoskin hold himself out as an expert qualified to opine on the subject of a neighborhood's dangerousness. Defendants' Motion to Bar his testimony on the grounds that he is not qualified to offer such expert opinions is therefore dismissed as moot.

B. Methodology

Dvoskin's Report does not provide a great deal of information about the specific methodology that Dvoskin used in order to formulate his conclusions. The Report does indicate that he relied upon a very length list of sources, including various CPD memos, newspaper reports concerning the facts of this case, Internal Affairs Division investigative statements of various officers and detention aides, and more than fifty depositions taken from other witnesses in this case. (See Dvoskin Rep. at 4-8.) Defendants have not presented a challenge to the data upon which he relied.

Although no party has provided the Court with adequate information upon which to conduct a reasoned discussion of the validity of Dvoskin's general methodology, Defendants do not seek to bar Dvoskin's testimony on methodological grounds. Therefore, the Court need not conduct a methodological analysis. See United States v. Moore, 521 F.3d 681, 685 (7th Cir. 2008) ("A judge is not ...


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