PRESCOTT, Ariz. — A federal judge in Arizona on Feb. 19 ruled that an expert for a gas company seeking contribution and cost recovery under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act from the federal government, U.S. Department of the Interior, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the U.S. Geological Survey, the Department of Energy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for the cleanup of 19 uranium mines on the Navajo Reservation can proffer testimony based on aerial photographs of the site, ruling that his methodology was reliable and that any challenges to the weight of his testimony can be challenged at trial (El Paso Natural Gas Co. LLC v. United States, No. CV-14-08165-PCT-DGC, D. Ariz., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 26054).
URBANA, Ill. — A police expert can testify that his cadaver-sniffing dog alerted to a bathroom vanity during a search of the apartment of a man accused of kidnapping and killing a Chinese university student, an Illinois federal judge ruled Feb. 15 (United States v. Brendt A. Christensen, No. 17-cr-20037, C.D. Ill., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 24625).
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A state trial court properly allowed expert testimony for a man who sued the Kansas City Fire Department (KCFD) for racial discrimination and correctly excluded opinions by the department’s expert for lack of disclosure, a Missouri appeals court held Feb. 13 in affirming a jury’s $1 million damages and fee award to the accuser (Tarshish Jones v. Kansas City, Mo., No. WD81671, W.D. Mo. App., 2019 Mo. App. LEXIS 152).
DETROIT — An accused Detroit gang member lost his bid to present expert testimony on eyewitness identification on the U.S. government’s claims that he was the driver of a car during a drive-by slaying, with a Michigan federal judge on Feb. 12 saying the defendant’s lack of an identified expert was fatal to his request (United States v. Edwin Mills, et al., No. 16-cr-20460, E.D. Mich., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 22136).
DALLAS — A Texas federal judge on Feb. 8 excluded testimony from two experts for the U.S. government in its case against dietary supplement distributors but declined to exclude the opinions of three other experts linking adulterated and misbranded products with liver disease (United States v. USPlabs, LLC, et al., No. 3:15-cr-496, N.D. Texas, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 21195).
AUGUSTA, Ga. — A Georgia federal judge on Feb. 4 denied an insurer’s motion to exclude the expert testimony of an insured’s witness after determining that the expert is qualified to testify on the cause of the water damage at issue and that the expert’s testimony is crucial to the insured on the issue of causation (Carrie Finch, et al. v. Owners Insurance Co., No. 16-169, S.D. Ga., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17581).
GREENVILLE, Miss. — A federal judge in Mississippi on Feb. 11 partially granted and partially denied defendants’ motions to dismiss the testimony of two experts in a groundwater contamination lawsuit, ruling that their opinions were admissible except with regard to impaired values of properties and the diminution of the value of the properties in question (Joe E. Sledge, et al. v. Meritor Inc., et al., No. 16-cv-053, N.D. Miss.).
PASADENA, Calif. — The question of whether a police detective should testify as an expert or a layman on a device used to extract data from a cell phone divided a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel Feb. 6, with the majority finding no abuse of discretion in allowing the detective to testify as an expert witness in a child sex assault case (United States v. Tony Lee McLeod, No. 16-50013, 9th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 3752).
NEW ORLEANS — Two experts’ passing references to a man’s work aboard a ship leave them impermissibly opining that every exposure to asbestos leads to mesothelioma, a federal judge in Louisiana held Feb. 5 in excluding the experts and granting summary judgment (Robert Schindler v. Dravo Basic Materials Co. Inc., No. 17-13013, E.D. La.).
DENVER — Most opinions by a narcotics detective acting as an expert witness in a drug-trafficking case are admissible for trial, though he cannot opine that the defendant’s ownership of an assault rifle is indicative of drug trafficking, a Colorado federal judge decided Feb. 6 (United States v. Michael Shannon, No. 18-cr-00353, D. Colo., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18728).
NEW ORLEANS — A trial court properly allowed a Texas state trooper who witnessed and investigated a fatal tractor-trailer crash to offer expert opinions on the cause of the accident, a Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel determined Feb. 1 without reaching the question of whether “an accident investigator can serve as an expert at all” (Alexandro Puga, et al. v. RCX Solutions, Inc., No. 17-41282, 5th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 3346).
CHICAGO — A railroad conductor lost his bid to hold his employer responsible for an elbow injury when the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Feb. 1 affirmed dismissal of his federal claims based on the proper exclusion of his causation expert, who contradicted himself in deposition and affidavit testimony (Jeffery A. Kopplin v. Wisconsin Central Limited, No. 17-3602, 7th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 3315).
MILWAUKEE — A federal judge in Wisconsin on Jan. 25 admitted some and excluded other experts for both the plaintiffs and the defendant paint companies being sued for injuries allegedly caused by exposure to lead-based paint (Glenn Burton v. American Cyanamid, et al., No. 07-0303, E.D. Wis., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 12286).
BOSTON — A Massachusetts federal judge on Jan. 29 allowed testimony from competing experts in a dispute over whether a maker of greeting cards falsified documents in a trademark and copyright row with another card company (LovePop, Inc. v. Paper Pop Cards, Inc., No. 17-11017, D. Mass., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14035).
ST. LOUIS — An expert’s opinions on the lifetime economic loss of a woman who was injured in a crash with a tractor-trailer are sufficiently reliable to be heard at trial, a Missouri federal judge held Jan. 25 in declining the trucker’s bid to exclude the opinions (Nicole Holloway v. Winkler, Inc., et al., No. 4:17-cv-2208, E.D. Va., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 12211).
CHARLESTON, S.C. — With an infectious disease expert’s testimony allowed, a couple’s strict liability and breach of warranty claims over a case of food poisoning allegedly from a flounder dinner while on vacation survive a restaurant’s summary judgment bid, though their negligence claim fails for lack of proof that the restaurant caused the flounder to become infected, a South Carolina federal judge held Jan. 25 (Erna Kiessling, et al. v. Kiawah Island Inn Company LLC, No. 2:17-cv-02146, D. S.C., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 12057).
WILMINGTON, Del. — A Delaware state court judge on Jan. 7 denied in part a home builder’s motion for summary judgment, finding that a couple’s water intrusion expert’s opinion was admissible and that the plaintiffs waived their right to a jury trial because their allegations stem from an alleged breach of a 2006 sales agreement (Paul Agostini, et al. v. Blenheim at Augustine Creek LLC, No. N16C-06-167 CLS, Del. Super., New Castle Co., 2018 Del. Super. LEXIS 8).
CHICAGO — The Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 22 affirmed summary judgment in a hernia mesh patch case, agreeing with a district court that the theory of a plaintiff’s key expert witness was novel, untested, unaccepted and failed to meet the requirements of the U.S. Supreme Court’s expert testimony standard in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Charlotte Robinson, et al. v. Davol Inc., et al., No. 17-2068, 7th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 1981).
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A trial court properly allowed expert testimony on drugs used by a truck driver who crashed into a car, killing two people, because it was relevant and did not unfairly prejudice the driver, a Michigan appeals court determined Jan. 15 in affirming his conviction (People of Michigan v. Mark Edward Feuss, No. 337190, Mich. App., 2019 Mich. App. LEXIS 48).
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — An Illinois federal magistrate judge on Jan. 16 granted in part several motions to exclude expert testimony regarding a corporate status issue in a reinsurance coverage dispute over payment for mine subsidence damages (Illinois Mine Subsidence Insurance Fund v. Union Pacific Railroad Co., No. 17-3199, C.D. Ill., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 7355).