United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
CARLOS A. MONTANEZ, Plaintiff,
DR. JOHN TROST, WEXFORD HEALTH SOURCES, INC., and DR. STEPHEN RITZ, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
ROSENSTENGEL, CHIEF JUDGE:
matter is before the Court on the Motion to Exclude the
Testimony of Plaintiff's Expert Witness filed by
Defendants Wexford Health Sources, Inc., Dr. Stephen Ritz,
and Dr. John Trost. Defendants move to exclude the expert
opinion of David Yoo, M.D., an ophthalmic surgeon hired by
Montanez's appointed counsel to provide opinions
regarding Montanez's medical injuries. After a thorough
review of the parties' briefs and the record in this
case, the Court grants in part and denies in part the motion.
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). The Daubert standard applies to
all expert testimony, whether based on scientific competence
or other specialized or technical expertise. Smith v.
Ford Motor Co., 215 F.3d 713, 719 (7th Cir. 2000)
(citing Kumho Tire Co., Ltd. v. Carmichael, 526
U.S.137, 141 (1999)).
Rule of Evidence 702 provides:
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, or training or education may
testify thereto in the form of an opinion or otherwise.
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)
(quoting Daubert, 509 U.S. at 589). In determining
whether expert testimony is both relevant and reliable,
courts in the Seventh Circuit perform a three-step analysis:
“the witness must be qualified ‘as an expert by
knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education,'
Fed.R.Evid. 702; the expert's reasoning or methodology
underlying the testimony must be scientifically reliable,
Daubert, 509 U.S. at 592-93, 113 S.Ct. 2786; and the
testimony must assist the trier of fact to understand the
evidence or to determine a fact in issue.” Ervin v.
Johnson & Johnson, Inc., 492 F.3d 901, 904 (7th Cir.
2007) (citing Fed.R.Evid. 702).
such testimony's factual basis, data, principles,
methods, or their application are called sufficiently into
question . . . the trial judge must determine whether the
testimony has ‘a reliable basis in the knowledge and
experience of [the relevant] discipline.'”
Kumho, 526 U.S. at 149 (quoting Daubert,
509 U.S. at 592). “A Daubert inquiry is not
designed to have the district judge 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). “If 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. (quoting Daubert,
509 U.S. at 596). The district court possesses “great
latitude in determining not only how to measure the
reliability of the proposed expert testimony but also whether
the testimony is, in fact, reliable.” United States
v. Pansier, 576 F.3d 726, 737 (7th Cir. 2009) (citing
Jenkins v. Bartlett, 487 F.3d 482, 489 (7th Cir.
2007)). Lastly, 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 v. Citgo Petroleum Corp., 561
F.3d. 698, 705 (7th Cir. 2009).
argue that Dr. Yoo is unqualified to testify as to the
standard of care for a primary care physician, his opinions
are unsupported by the record, and he has made improper legal
conclusions suggesting that Wexford created or conduced a
policy or practice that resulted in insufficient or
is an ophthalmic surgeon and his practice primarily involves
seeing patients with various conditions including trauma and
cancers around the eyes, as well as seeing patients with any
of a number of ophthalmic conditions including glaucoma (Doc.
175-16, p. 6). He is board certified in the field of
ophthalmology (Id.). Dr. Yoo is also employed as an
Associate Professor of Ophthalmology at Loyola University
Medical Center (Id.). In this role, he teaches
classes relating to plastic and reconstructive surgery around
the eyes, including the associated diseases related to these
procedures (Id.). He is qualified as an expert in
deposition on February 27, 2019, Dr. Yoo admitted that he is
not a primary care physician or utilization management
physician and considers neither area as part of his expertise
(Doc. 175-31-32). While Dr. Yoo certainly has expertise in
ophthalmology, he is not a primary care physician or
utilization management physician and therefore is not
qualified to render an opinion on the standard of care for
those physicians. Dr. Yoo is certainly qualified, however, to
testify regarding whether Defendants' treatment of
Montanez-or lack thereof-adversely impacted Montanez's
ophthalmic issues and contributed to his ongoing pain.
argue that Dr. Yoo's opinions are based on grievance
records, but they do not point to where this is so. A review
of Dr. Yoo's expert report reveals that he did not cite
to any grievances to support his opinions regarding the
further argue that Dr. Yoo's opinions are improper legal
conclusions. “[E]xpert testimony as to legal
conclusions that will determine the outcome of the case is
inadmissible.” Good Shepherd Manor Foundation, Inc.
v. City of Momence, 323 F.3d 557, 564 (7th Cir. 2003).
Thus, Dr. Yoo will not be permitted to testify that
Montanez's conditions constituted a “serious
medical need” as that term is defined for deliberate
indifference purposes or that Dr. Ritz, and that Dr. Trost
“consciously disregarded” that risk. Estate
of Gee v. Bloomington Hosp., No. 1:06-cv-00094-TWP-TAB,
2012 WL 591459, at *2 (S.D. Ind. Feb. 20, 2012)
(“Plaintiff's experts ‘must stop short of
embracing the ‘legal terminology' which frames the
ultimate legal conclusion which the jury must reach in the
case.”) (citing Alvarado v. Oakland Cnty., No.
2:09-cv-14312, 2011 WL 3566693, at *7 (E.D. Mich. Aug. 15,