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Rigsbee v. City and County of Honolulu

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

March 6, 2019

CLIFFORD MCARTHUR RIGSBEE, as Personal Representative of the Estate of Clifford Meredith Rigsbee, deceased, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY AND COUNTY OF HONOLULU, Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO EXCLUDE UNFOUNDED ECONOMIC OPINIONS (ECF NO. 131)

          Helen Gillmor, States District Judge.

         This is a maritime action relating to the death of Clifford Meredith Rigsbee. On June 14, 2016, the decedent was engaged in rescue watercraft training as part of his duties as a firefighter with the Honolulu Fire Department. During the ocean training, the decedent suffered blunt force injury to his head and neck. He died two days later as a result of his injuries.

         Plaintiff Clifford McArthur Rigsbee, as Personal Representative of the Estate of Clifford Meredith Rigsbee, filed a Motion seeking to exclude from evidence certain economic opinions of Defendant's expert, Jack C. Suyderhoud, Ph. D.

         Plaintiff's Motion to Exclude Unfounded Economic Opinions is GRANTED.

         Defendant's expert Jack C. Suyderhoud, Ph.D. is permitted to testify at trial.

         Dr. Suyderhoud's testimony shall not attempt to circumvent the Court's October 16, 2018 ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR DISPOSITIVE RULINGS UNDER FED. R. CIV. P. 16 AND 56(a) REGARDING THE AVAILABILITY OF HEDONIC DAMAGES AND GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR DISPOSITIVE RULINGS UNDER FED. R. CIV. P. 16 AND 56(a) REGARDING THE ESTATE'S SURVIVAL-CLAIM FOR FUTURE LOST EARNINGS. (ECF No. 99).

         Nor may Dr. Suyderhoud provide legal opinions. He also may not rely on Hawaii Revised Statutes §§ 663-7 and 663-8 for his opinion. Specifically, he may not testify that Plaintiff's loss of future earnings damages should be reduced pursuant to Hawaii state law.

         Dr. Suyderhoud is precluded from testifying that pre-judgment interest is not available in this case.

         The Court rules that pre-judgment interest is available in this case. An award of pre-judgment interest and the rate thereof is a matter for trial.

         PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On October 23, 2017, Plaintiff Clifford McArthur Rigsbee, as Personal Representative of the Estate of Clifford Meredith Rigsbee, deceased, filed a Complaint. (ECF No. 1).

         On May 17, 2018, Plaintiff filed the FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT. (ECF No. 36).

         On July 18, 2018, Plaintiff filed PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR DISPOSITIVE RULINGS UNDER FED. R. CIV. P. 16 AND 56(a) REGARDING AVAILABILITY OF HEDONIC DAMAGES and a Concise Statement of Facts in Support. (ECF Nos. 48 and 49).

         On the same date, Plaintiff filed PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR DISPOSITIVE RULINGS UNDER FED. R. CIV. P. 16 AND 56(a) REGARDING THE ESTATE'S SURVIVAL-CLAIM FOR FUTURE LOST EARNINGS and a Concise Statement of Facts in Support. (ECF Nos. 50 and 51).

         On August 7, 2018, Defendant filed DEFENDANT CITY AND COUNTY OF HONOLULU'S STATEMENT OF NO POSITION TO PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR DISPOSITIVE RULINGS UNDER FED. R. CIV. P. 16 AND 56(a) REGARDING THE ESTATE'S SURVIVAL-CLAIM FOR FUTURE LOST EARNINGS. (ECF No. 57) (emphasis added).

         On the same date, Defendant filed DEFENDANT CITY AND COUNTY OF HONOLULU'S STATEMENT OF NO POSITION TO PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR DISPOSITIVE RULINGS UNDER FED. R. CIV. P. 16 AND 56(a) REGARDING THE AVAILABILITY OF HEDONIC DAMAGES. (ECF No. 58) (emphasis added).

         On October 16, 2018, the Court issued an ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR DISPOSITIVE RULINGS UNDER FED. R. CIV. P. 16 AND 56(a) REGARDING THE AVAILABILITY OF HEDONIC DAMAGES AND GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR DISPOSITIVE RULINGS UNDER FED. R. CIV. P. 16 AND 56(a) REGARDING THE ESTATE'S SURVIVAL-CLAIM FOR FUTURE LOST EARNINGS. (ECF No. 99).

         On February 7, 2019, Plaintiff filed PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO EXCLUDE UNFOUNDED ECONOMIC OPINIONS. (ECF No. 131).

         On February 15, 2019, Defendant filed DEFENDANT CITY AND COUNTY OF HONOLULU'S MEMORANDUM IN OPPOSITION TO PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO EXCLUDE UNFOUNDED ECONOMIC OPINIONS. (ECF No. 136).

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Federal Rule of Evidence 702 provides that “scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge” by a qualified expert is admissible if it will “help the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 702.

         The United States Supreme Court held in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharms., 509 U.S. 579, 589 (1993) that the District Court has a gatekeeping responsibility to objectively screen expert testimony to ensure that it is not only relevant, but reliable. The District Court's obligation applies to technical and other specialized knowledge as well as testimony based on scientific knowledge. Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137, 141-42 (1999).

         The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has explained that expert testimony is relevant if the evidence logically advances a material aspect of the party's case. Estate of Barabin v. ...


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