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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, Paine's Motion to Bar [the] Opinion Testimony and Report of Warren Evans is granted in part and denied in part.

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 Warren Evans

Warren Evans, who is an attorney and the Chief of Police for the city of Detroit, Michigan, proposes to offer expert testimony that, in light of the police administrative factors that form the context in which police officers deal with the unique concerns of mentally ill detainees, Defendant officers could not have transported Eilman for an involuntary mental health evaluation. Paine argues that Evans's testimony and report should be barred because his opinions are either legal conclusions, which are inadmissible, or address matters that are irrelevant. However, Paine does not challenge the entirety of Evans's proposed testimony, but only five specific areas thereof: 1) those unspecified opinions that purportedly offer legal conclusions; 2) Evans's opinion that CPD officers responded reasonably and prudently in their conduct towards Eilman; 3) those specific opinions that are based on psychological or personal analysis; 4) those unspecified opinions that refer to Defendants' compliance with CPD general orders or regulations; and 5) Evans's statement that there are relevant distinctions between local police lockups and jails or prisons with regard to the provision of mental health care.

A. Qualifications

Paine does not contest that Evans, who is an attorney and a career law enforcement officer, is qualified to testify as an expert witness about police practices and other law enforcement concerns. The Court's review of Evans's Curriculum Vitae reflects that he has thirty-seven years of career experience in the fields of community justice and law enforcement, including extensive legal experience, and that from 2003 through 2009 he was the Sheriff of Wayne County, Michigan, serving a population of more than 2 million citizens in the city of Detroit and its environs. (See R. 617, Ex. A, Curriculum Vitae of Warren C. Evans.) On the basis of Evans's education and practical experience, the Court finds him qualified to testify as to law enforcement practices and operational concerns. See Smith v. Ford Motor Co., 215 F.3d 713, 718 (7th Cir. 2000) (courts "should consider a proposed expert's full range of practical experience as well as academic or technical training when determining whether that expert is qualified to render an opinion in a given area").

With respect to item (3) noted above, however, Paine does challenge Evans's qualifications to testify regarding psychiatric or psychological matters. Evans admits that he does not have specialized experience or expertise in these fields. (See R. 559, Ex. B, Deposition Testimony of Warren Evans, at 81.) (hereinafter "Evans Dep.") In fact, when asked to interpret whether Eilman's behavior at a particular point would indicate to Evans "that she may have been incoherent," Evans replied that he could not speculate, to which Paine's counsel replied that he was asking not for Evans's opinion as a psychiatrist or psychologist, but as a layperson. (Evans Dep. at 329.) Subsequently in Evans's deposition, Paine's counsel repeatedly asked Evans to opine on matters of mental health diagnosis and treatment, which Evans repeatedly declined to do. (See, e.g., Evans Dep. at 331, 332, 334.) It is clear, therefore, that Evans does not intend to present himself as a psychiatric expert, and that his opinions cannot be barred on the grounds that he is not qualified to offer psychiatric expert testimony, as he does not intend to do so. (See Mot. Hr'g Trans., Warren Evans, at 109-10, Feb. 11, 2010) (hereinafter "Hr'g Trans.)

Evans is therefore qualified to testify as an expert witness with reference to police practices and operational concerns.

B. Methodology

Paine does not challenge the methodology by which Evans reached his conclusion. His report states that his opinions are based upon his review of unspecified litigation documents and other evidence as well as upon his "visit and visual inspection of the 2nd District Police Station, lockup, lobby, parking lot and surrounding neighborhoods." (R. 559, Ex. A, Expert Report of Warren C. Evans, at 1.) (hereinafter "Evans Rep.") His summary of the facts relevant to his conclusions reveals an extensive familiarity with the events at issue in this litigation and with the deposition testimony of the officers who came into contact with Eilman. (See Hr'g Trans. at 79-80.) In light of Paine's failure to contest either the materials upon which he relied or the method by which he reached his conclusions, the Court finds Evans's ...


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