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Escobar v. Nevada Helicopter Leasing LLC

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

January 8, 2020

VIOLETA ESCOBAR, also known as VIOLETA ESCOBAR CLINE, Individually and as Personal Representative for the ESTATE OF NATHAN CLINE, Deceased, Plaintiff,
v.
NEVADA HELICOPTER LEASING LLC, Defendant.

         ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION IN LIMINE NO. 1: LIMITING THE EXPERT TESTIMONY OF DOUGLAS E. STIMPSON (ECF NO. 428) AND GRANTING, IN PART, AND DENYING, IN PART, PLAINTIFF'S MOTION IN LIMINE NO. 2: PROHIBITING REFERENCE TO THE PROBABLE CAUSE REPORT OF THE NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD (ECF NO. 429)

          Helen Gillmor District Judge.

         In November 2011, a helicopter piloted by the Plaintiff's husband crashed on the island of Molokai. Plaintiff filed a complaint against Defendant Nevada Helicopter Leasing LLC, the owner of the Subject Helicopter, asserting negligence and strict liability claims.

         In July 2016, the Federal District Court granted Defendant Nevada Helicopter Leasing LLC's Motion for Summary Judgment.

         Plaintiff appealed and in February 2019, the case was remanded. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found that there was an issue of fact as to whether Defendant Nevada Helicopter Leasing LLC (“Nevada Leasing”) had actual possession or actual operational control of the Subject Helicopter at the time of the crash.

         The Court ordered a bifurcated trial. The first trial is limited to the factual questions identified by the Appellate Court to determine whether Defendant Nevada Leasing may be held liable as the lessor of the Subject Helicopter pursuant to 49 U.S.C. § 44112(b).

         Plaintiff has filed two motions in limine regarding the first trial.

         ANALYSIS

         Plaintiff's Motion in Limine No. 1: Limiting The Expert Testimony Of Douglas E. Stimpson (ECF No. 428)

         Plaintiff's Motion in Limine No. 1 seeks to limit the expert testimony of Defendant's expert Douglas E. Stimpson.

         On October 30, 2019, the Court held a Daubert to determine what Mr. Stimpson could say at trial. (Minutes from October 30, 2019, ECF No. 402). Mr. Stimpson testified for nearly two hours. (Id.)

         The Court issued a written order detailing its ruling that Mr. Stimpson may testify as an expert in the aviation industry. (ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO STRIKE THE EXPERT DISCLOSURE OF DOUGLAS E. STIMPSON AS UNTIMELY AND PERMITTING DOUGLAS E. STIMPSON TO TESTIFY AS AN EXPERT IN THE AVIATION INDUSTRY AND DEFERRING RULING ON HIS ABILITY TO TESTIFY AS AN ACCIDENT RECONSTRUCTION EXPERT, ECF No. 420).

         1. Mr. Stimpson Is Qualified And Permitted To Testify As An Expert In The Aviation Industry

         On May 1, 2019, Defendant disclosed the written report for Mr. Douglas Stimpson along with his curriculum vitae pursuant to the Magistrate Judge's March 25, 2019 Rule 16 Scheduling Order. (ECF No. 376).

         After receiving the May 1, 2019 written disclosure, Plaintiff filed a Motion to Strike Mr. Stimpson as an expert on May 13, 2019. (ECF No. 379).

         In response and pursuant to the Court's briefing schedule, Defendant submitted an Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion and included an affidavit from Mr. Stimpson that explained further the basis for his expertise in the aviation field regarding on-demand and commuter operations. (June 17, 2019 Affidavit attached as Ex. 10 to Def.'s Opp., ECF No. 386-10).

         On October 30, 2019, the Court held a Daubert hearing and a hearing on Plaintiff's Motion to Strike Mr. Stimpson. (ECF No. 402). Mr. Stimpson testified for nearly two hours and was subject ...


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