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Farring v. Hartford Fire Insurance Co.

United States District Court, D. Nevada

March 14, 2014

LOUIS RANDOLPH FARRING, Plaintiff,
v.
HARTFORD FIRE INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant.

ORDER

JAMES C. MAHAN, District Judge.

This is a diversity action filed against defendant Hartford Fire Insurance Company by plaintiff Louis Randolph Farring. Presently before the court is a motion in limine filed by defendant. (Doc. # 52). Plaintiff filed a response in opposition to this motion. (Doc. # 56).

I. Legal Standard

"Although the Federal Rules of Evidence do not explicitly authorize in limine rulings, the practice has developed pursuant to the district court's inherent authority to manage the course of trials." Luce v. United States, 469 U.S. 38, 41 n. 4 (1984) (citing Federal Rule of Evidence 103(c)). In limine rulings "are not binding on the trial judge, and the judge may always change his mind during the course of a trial." Ohler v. United States, 529 U.S. 753, 758 n. 3 (2000); accord Luce, 469 U.S. at 41 (noting that in limine rulings are always subject to change, especially if the evidence unfolds in an unanticipated manner). The admissibility of expert testimony is governed by Federal Rule of Evidence 104, which provides for a court to decide "any preliminary question about whether a witness is qualified, a privilege exists, or evidence is admissible." Fed.R.Evid. 104(a).

"In so deciding, the court is not bound by evidence rules, except those on privilege." Id. In order to satisfy the burden of proof for Rule 104(a), a party must show that the requirements for admissibility are met by a preponderance of the evidence. See Bourjaily v. United States, 483 U.S. 171, 175 (1987) ("We have traditionally required that these matters [regarding admissibility determinations that hinge on preliminary factual questions] be established by a preponderance of proof.").

Federal Rule of Evidence 702 provides that a qualified expert witness may provide testimony in the form of an opinion if the court finds that:

(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. In 2000 this rule was amended in response to Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993) and its progeny, including Kumho Tire Co. Ltd. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137 (1999).

II. Discussion

The court will address only those facts which are pertinent to resolution of the instant motion in limine.

In the instant motion, defendant argues that the court should exclude the testimony of plaintiff's hedonic damages expert, Dr. Stan V. Smith. Dr. Smith is an economist that uses the theory of "risk reduction value" to assist juries in monetizing damages in personal injury suits. His work on this case has included applying economic calculations ...


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