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Gauenn v. Board of Education Highland Community Unit School District No 5

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

January 22, 2018

KAREN GAUEN, Plaintiff,
v.
BOARD OF EDUCATION OF THE HIGHLAND COMMUNITY UNIT SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 5 Defendant.,

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          DAVID R. HERNDON, DISTRICT JUDGE

         Introduction

         Pending before the Court is defendant's Daubert motion and motion in limine to exclude, or in the alternative limit, the expert testimony of Dr. Rebecca Summary (Doc. 47). Plaintiff opposes the motion (Doc. 49).[1] Based on the following, the Court denies the motion. As noted in previous Orders, Gauen alleges that the Board paid her less compensation for her services as principal and assistant principal than her male counterparts in violation of Illinois' Equal Pay Act, the federal Equal Pay Act, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.[2]

         Legal Standard

         “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, 509 U.S. at 596). Once it is determined that “the proposed expert testimony meets the Daubert threshold of relevance and reliability, the accuracy of the actual evidence is to be tested before the jury with the familiar tools of ‘vigorous cross-examination, presentation of contrary evidence, and careful instruction on the burden of proof.'” Id.

         Furthermore, Rule 403 states:

The Court may exclude relevant evidence if its probative value is substantially outweighed by a danger of one or more of the following: unfair prejudice, confusing the issues, misleading the jury, undue delay, wasting time, or needlessly presenting cumulative evidence.

         Analysis

         Defendant maintains that Dr. Summary's opinions do not meet the minimum requirements for expert testimony;[3] that her methodology and factual basis for her opinions are unsound, and that her opinions will not assist the trier of fact. Plaintiff opposes the motion arguing that defendant is confusing liability issues with damage issues and that Dr. Summary's testimony goes to the important issues of the decline of her future pension due to unlawful discrimination.

         Dr. Summary has a B.S., with honors, from Eastern Illinois University (1975); a M.A., Economics, from Eastern Illinois University (1976) and a Ph.D., Economics, from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign (1983). Currently, she is a professor and chairperson of the Department of Economics at the Department of Economics and Finance at Southeast Missouri State University. In addition, since 1999, she is a forensic economist consultant for her own company. She has authored/co-written many publications from 1982 to 2015 and has participated in various professional presentations from 1985 to 2011 in the field of economics. Reviewing Dr. Summary's qualifications, it appears that she has extensive experience in the field of economics. Further, defendant does not seem to question her qualifications.

         In preparing her report, Dr. Summary noted that the purpose of the report: “The purpose of this report is to present the value of economic losses sustained by Dr. Karen Gauen as a result of employment discrimination in pay on the basis of her sex. Dr. Gauen's past losses are calculated from the school year 2012/13 through 2015/16 and have no reduction for present value. Dr. Gauen's future losses are calculated from the school years 2016/17 through retirement, and are reduced to present value.” (Doc. 45-3, p. 6; Dr. Summary's Report, p. 1). In rendering her opinion, Dr. Summary considered the employment records and compensation records ...


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