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System Development Integration, LLC v. Computer Sciences Corporation

August 9, 2012

SYSTEM DEVELOPMENT INTEGRATION, LLC, PLAINTIFF,
v.
COMPUTER SCIENCES CORPORATION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Amy J. St. Eve, District Court Judge:

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Defendant Computer Sciences Corporation ("CSC") has filed a motion to exclude the expert testimony of Plaintiff System Development Integration, LLC's ("SDI") damages expert, Mr. Michael G. Mayer, pursuant Federal Rules of Evidence 702 and 403, and the Supreme Court's decision in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharms., Inc., 509 U.S. 579, 113 S. Ct. 2786, 125 L. Ed. 2d 469 (1993).

For the following reasons, the Court grants the motion in part and denies it in part.

BACKGROUND

SDI filed suit against CSC, alleging breach of a subcontract agreement, tortious interference with prospective business advantage, breach of a fiduciary duty under a partnership agreement, quantum meruit, and equitable estoppel, all arising from CSC's alleged actions in replacing SDI with another company as a minority business partner under a contract with Exelon. (R. 83, Am. Compl., passim.) On September 13, 2010, the Court granted CSC's motion for summary judgment with respect to all five claims and entered judgment in CSC's favor. (R. 109, Order.) On April 1, 2011, the Court granted in part and denied in part SDI's motion to alter or amend the judgment after determining that CSC was not entitled to summary judgment on SDI's breach of subcontract agreement and quantum meruit claims. (R. 116, Order.) Those claims remain pending, and a jury trial is scheduled for September 10, 2012.

SDI intends to offer Mr. Mayer's testimony at trial. In his expert report, Mr. Mayer discloses three damages opinions: (1) damages for CSC's alleged breach of the partnership agreement; (2) damages for CSC's alleged breach of the subcontract agreement; and (3) quantum meruit damages. (R. 151-1, Expert Report of Michael G. Mayer, dated May 21, 2010 ("Mayer Report").) As explained in more detail below, CSC moves to exclude all of Mr. Mayer's opinions in this case. The parties did not depose Mr. Mayer, but the Court held a Daubert hearing on August 6, 2012, during which time the parties had the opportunity to conduct direct and cross examination.

LEGAL STANDARD

"The admissibility of expert testimony is governed by Federal Rule of Evidence 702 and the Supreme Court's opinion in Daubert[.]" Lewis v. CITGO Petroleum Corp., 561 F.3d 698, 705 (7th Cir. 2009). "The district court functions as a gatekeeper with respect to testimony proffered under Rule 702 to ensure that the testimony is sufficiently reliable to qualify for admission." Mihailovich v. Laatsch, 359 F.3d 892, 918 (7th Cir. 2004) (citing Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137, 147, 119 S. Ct. 1167, 143 L. Ed. 2d 238 (1999)); see also Lapsley v. Xtek, Inc., --- F.3d ----, 2012 WL 3055865, at *6 (7th Cir. July 27, 2012) ("The purpose of [the Daubert] inquiry is to vet the proposed testimony under Rule 702's requirements that it be "'based on sufficient facts or data,'" use "'reliable principles and methods,'" and "'reliably appl[y] the principles and methods to the facts of the case.'") (quoting Fed. R. Evid. 702)). Whether to admit expert testimony rests within the discretion of the district court. See Gen. Elec. Co. v. Joiner, 522 U.S. 136, 118 S. Ct. 512, 139 L. Ed. 2d 508 (1997); Lapsley, 2012 WL 3055865, at *6 ("we 'give the district court wide latitude in performing its gate-keeping function and determining both how to measure the reliability of expert testimony and whether the testimony itself is reliable'") (quoting Bielskis v. Louisville Ladder, Inc., 663 F.3d 887, 894 (7th Cir. 2011)). "The proponent of the expert bears the burden of demonstrating that the expert's testimony would satisfy the Daubert standard" by a preponderance of the evidence. Lewis, 561 F.3d at 705.

Under Rule 702, "[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; see also Ortiz v. City of Chicago, 656 F.3d 523, 526 (7th Cir. 2011).

District courts employ a three-part analysis before admitting expert testimony: (1) the expert must be qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education; (2) the expert's reasoning or methodology underlying his testimony must be scientifically reliable; and (3) the expert's testimony must assist the trier of fact in understanding the evidence or to determine a factual issue. Myers v. Illinois Cent. R.R. Co., 629 F.3d 639, 644 (7th Cir. 2010); see also Messner v. Northshore Univ. HealthSystem, 669 F.3d 802, 811--12 (7th Cir. 2012). "The goal of Daubert is to assure that experts employ the same 'intellectual rigor' in their courtroom testimony as would be employed by an expert in the relevant field." Jenkins v. Bartlett, 487 F.3d 482, 489 (7th Cir. 2007) (quoting Kumho Tire Co., 526 U.S. at 152).

ANALYSIS

I. Mr. Mayer is Qualified to Render Damages Opinions in This Case

Although CSC does not contend that Mr. Mayer is unqualified to testify as a damages expert in this case,*fn1 the Court nevertheless provides a brief summary of his qualifications.Mr. Mayer, who is a Vice President of Charles River Associates, a Chartered Financial Analyst, and a Certified Fraud Examiner, received a master's of business administration degree from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University and a bachelor of science degree from Indiana University School of Business. (Mayer Report, Tab 1.) He has testified as an expert in more than 70 matters and he has served as a damages consultant to the Enron Creditors Committee. (Id.) In addition, he has significant experience in breach of contract litigation, and he testified that most of the litigation matters in which he testified involved an analysis of lost profit damages.

II. Mr. Mayer May Not Testify Regarding Partnership Agreement Damages

Mr. Mayer devotes eight pages of his twenty-page report to a discussion of the damages that SDI allegedly incurred as a result of CSC's breach of fiduciary duty under an alleged partnership agreement. (Mayer Report at 6-13.) On September 13, 2010, the Court granted summary judgment in favor of CSC on SDI's breach of fiduciary duty claim, determining that the parties never entered into a partnership agreement. (R. 109, Order.) The parties agree that Mr. Mayer's opinions regarding damages arising from CSC's alleged breach of fiduciary duty under the partnership agreement are irrelevant because the Court has dismissed that claim. (R. 151, CSC's Mem. in Supp. of Mot. to Exclude Mayer ("Mem.") at 11; R. 173, SDI's Opp. to Mot. to Exclude Mayer ("Opp.") at 1-2; R. 167, SDI's Mot. to Exclude Douglass at 2 n.2.); see also Fed. R. Evid. 401 ("Evidence is relevant if (a) it has any tendency to make a fact more or less probable than it would b without the evidence; and (b) the fact is of consequence in determining the action.").*fn2 The Court accordingly grants this aspect of CSC's motion without objection.

III. Quantum Meruit Opinions

Mr. Mayer proffers two different quantum meruit damages opinions. First, he opines on what he terms "SDI's economic cost of providing benefits to CSC." (Mayer Report at 18.) Next, he offers an opinion on the "economic enrichment of CSC in receiving SDI's services." (Id. at 19.) CSC argues that Mr. Mayer's quantum meruit opinions are inadmissible because they do not comport with the measure of recovery for quantum meruit claims under Illinois law and because they are speculative and unreliable. For the reasons explained below, the Court excludes Mr. Mayer's quantum meruit damage opinions.

A. Measure of Recovery for Quantum Meruit Claims Under Illinois Law

As the Court has previously explained, the "correct measure for quantum meruit recovery is the amount which the court considers defendant has been unjustly enriched at the expense of plaintiff," which is "generally the lower of these two: the economic cost to plaintiff of providing a benefit or the economic enrichment of defendant in receiving it." (R. 210, Aug. 3, 2012 Order at 15 (citing Midcoast Aviation, Inc. v. ...


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