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Chaudhry v. Provident Life and Accident Insurance Co.

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

April 17, 2015

NASEEM M. CHAUDHRY, M.D., Plaintiff,
v.
PROVIDENT LIFE AND ACCIDENT INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

AMY J. ST. EVE, District Judge.

Plaintiff Naseem Chaudhry, M.D. has moved to exclude testimony from Mr. Timothy J. Riley and Dr. Andrew Segovia Kulik, both offered by Provident Life and Accident Insurance Company ("Provident Life" or "Defendant"), pursuant to Federal Rule of Evidence 702 and Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579, 113 S.Ct. 2786, 125 L.Ed.2d 469 (1993). For the reasons discussed below, the Court denies Plaintiff's motions.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Naseem M. Chaudhry, M.D., suffers from a deteriorative eye condition, which has impaired his ability to drive and treat his psychiatric patients. Defendant Provident Life paid total disability benefits to Plaintiff under a disability insurance policy from mid-2003 to August 2011. After Provident Life terminated Plaintiff's disability benefits on August 15, 2011, Plaintiff sued Provident Life and its parent company, Unum Group ("Unum"), alleging breach of contract, waiver, and estoppel arising from the termination of Plaintiff's disability benefits. ( See R.78, Second Am. Compl.; see also R.132, Opinion granting-in-part Defs.' Motion for Summary Judgment.)[1]

I. Mr. Timothy J. Riley

Defendant disclosed Mr. Timothy J. Riley as an expert in vocational assessment- determining vocational and employment issues related to application of a long term disability policy. (R.142-2; see also R.159-1.) Mr. Riley is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor, Certified Vocational Expert, Licensed Professional Counselor, and a Certified Private Vocational Rehabilitation Specialist. (R.159-1, at 2.) Mr. Riley offers various opinions related to this case. First, Mr. Riley opines that Mr. Chaudhry performed the material and substantial duties of a psychiatrist. ( Id., at 5.) Mr. Riley further opines that Mr. Chaudhry was fully capable of continuing to work as a psychiatrist after his medical diagnosis, that he continued to perform his material and substantial duties until summer of 2006, and that he retained those abilities after that time at least until the time of his revoked medical license (in 2012). ( Id. )

II. Dr. Andrew Segovia Kulik, M.D.

Defendant also disclosed Dr. Andrew Segovia Kulik, M.D. as an expert in occupational assessment, including identification of the material and substantial duties of general and geriatric psychiatrists. (R.143-2; see also R.158-1.) Dr. Kulik is board certified in general psychiatry with additional board certification in forensic psychiatry. (R.143-2, at 3.) Dr. Kulik serves as a member of the American Psychiatric Association and the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law. ( Id. ) He also serves as the Interim Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry for the Cook County Health and Hospital System which requires him to supervise and manage mental health professionals, including many psychiatrists. ( Id. ) Dr. Kulik offers an opinion "within a reasonable degree of medical and psychiatric certainty" that "Dr. Chaudhry has functioned as a general psychiatrist before and after his reported disability." ( Id., at 2.) Dr. Kulik further finds that Dr. Chaudhry "continued to perform the material and substantial duties of his occupation, even if characterized as a geriatric psychiatrist, after January of 2003." ( Id. )

LEGAL STANDARD FOR DAUBERT MOTIONS

"A district court's decision to exclude expert testimony is governed by Federal Rules of Evidence 702 and 703, as construed by the Supreme Court in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharms., Inc., 509 U.S. 579, 113 S.Ct. 2786, 125 L.Ed.2d 469 (1993)." Brown v. Burlington Northern Santa Fe Ry. Co., 765 F.3d 765, 771 (7th Cir. 2014); see also Lewis v. Citgo Petroleum Corp., 561 F.3d 698, 705 (7th Cir. 2009). Rule 702, governing the admissibility of expert testimony, provides:

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.

"In short, the rule requires that the trial judge ensure that any and all expert testimony or evidence admitted "is not only relevant, but reliable." Manpower, Inc. v. Ins. Co. of Pa. 732 F.3d 796, 806 (7th Cir. 2013) (citing Daubert, 509 U.S. at 589, 113 S.Ct. 2786); see also Bielskis v. Louisville Ladder, Inc., 663 F.3d 887, 894 (7th Cir. 2011) (explaining that ultimately, the expert's opinion "must be reasoned and founded on data [and] must also utilize the methods of the relevant discipline"); Lees v. Carthage College, 714 F.3d 516, 521 (7th Cir. 2013) (explaining the current version of Rule 702 essentially codified Daubert and "remains the gold standard for evaluating the reliability of expert testimony"). The Daubert principles apply equally to scientific and non-scientific expert testimony. See Manpower, Inc., 732 F.3d at 806 (citing Kumho Tire Co., Ltd. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137, 147-49, 119 S.Ct. 1167, 143 L.Ed.2d 238 (1999)).

Under the expert-testimony framework, courts perform the gatekeeping function of determining whether the expert testimony is both relevant and reliable prior to its admission at trial. See Manpower, Inc., 732 F.3d at 806; Lees, 714 F.3d at 521; United States v. Pansier, 576 F.3d 726, 737 (7th Cir. 2009) ("To determine reliability, the court should consider the proposed expert's full range of experience and training, as well as the methodology used to arrive [at] a particular conclusion."). In doing so, courts "make the following inquiries before admitting expert testimony: first, the expert must be qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education; second, the proposed expert must assist the trier of fact in determining a relevant fact at issue in the case; third, the expert's testimony must be based on sufficient facts or data and reliable principles and methods; and fourth, the expert must have reliably applied the principles and methods to the facts of the case." Lees, 714 F.3d at 521-22; see also Stollings v. Ryobi Techs., Inc., 725 F.3d 753, 765 (7th Cir. 2013); Pansier, 576 F.3d at 737. A district court's evaluation of expert testimony under Daubert does not "take the place of the jury to decide ultimate issues of credibility and accuracy." Lapsley v. Xtek, Inc., 689 F.3d 802, 805 (7th Cir. 2012) (citing Daubert, ...


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