The opinion of the court was delivered by: Wolfson, United States Magistrate Judge.
Presently before the Court is a motion, in limine, by
defendant, General Motors Corporation ("GM"), seeking to preclude
the testimony and reports of Frank D. Tinari, Ph.D., plaintiffs'
proffered liability and punitive damages expert. Specifically, GM
seeks to preclude Dr. Tinari's July 2, 1999, liability report and
supplement to that report, as well as his July 16, 1999, punitive
damages report. The Court has reviewed the moving, opposition,
reply, and supplemental papers submitted by all the parties, and
heard oral argument on September 7, 1999. For the following
reasons, GM's motion is granted only with respect to Dr. Tinari's
punitive damages report, and denied in all other respects.
The plaintiffs, over 200 former GM hourly workers, filed a
complaint on January 30, 1995, and an amended complaint on July
19, 1999, against GM and several other defendants. Plaintiffs
allege that GM fraudulently announced on December 3, 1992, that
its Trenton plant would close but failed to announce, prior to
March 3, 1993, that it was exploring sales possibilities for the
plant, with the motive to compel plaintiffs to select a voluntary
early retirement pursuant to a collectively-bargained Special
Accelerated Attrition Agreement ("SAAA") over other
By order dated June 21, 1999, this Court granted GM's motion to
preclude the report of plaintiffs' liability expert, Dr. Samuel
J. Kursh, but granted plaintiffs leave to file a liability expert
report on: "the economic analysis of the options of closing the
Trenton plant, selling the Trenton plant, keeping the Trenton
Plant open, or delaying a closing of the Trenton plant; and (2)
the economic value of the benefits available to the hourly
employees of the Trenton Plant." Order dated June 21, 1999.
Plaintiffs thereafter produced a liability report, dated July
2, 1999, along with a qualifications profile of Dr. Frank Tinari,
analyzing the following issues: "(1) GM's Analysis of Disposition
Plans for the Trenton Plant" and "(2) Special Accelerated
Attrition Agreement (SAAA) vs. Remaining with GM." Celauro
Certification, Exhibit "A." Plaintiffs subsequently produced
another report by Dr. Tinari, dated July 16, 1999, opining "on
the range of reasonable value of punitive damages in this matter.
. . ." Celauro Certification, Exhibit "C." On August 3, 1999,
during the taking of Dr. Tinari's deposition on both reports, Dr.
Tinari also produced an undated supplemental report to his July
2, 1999, liability report. See Celauro Certification, Exhibit
GM's present motion to preclude Dr. Tinari's reports is based
on the expert's lack of qualifications, as well as the reports'
lack of relevance, lack of methodology, and prejudicial value.
See Defendant's Brief in Support of Motion at 2. GM moves to
preclude the supplemental liability report not only on the same
grounds it seeks to preclude the July 2, 1999, report, but also
on the grounds that it was provided over a month past the due
date set by this Court's order. See ibid.
I. Qualifications Analysis of Dr. Tinari Regarding his Liability
The Court initially notes that this motion is being decided
without a Federal Rule of Evidence 104 hearing.*fn1 Cognizant of
the Third Circuit's recent reaffirmation in Padillas v.
Stork-Gamco, Inc., 186 F.3d 412, 417 (3d Cir. 1999), of the
importance of conducting in limine hearings under Rule 104 when
making the reliability determinations required by Federal Rule of
Evidence 702 and Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc.,
509 U.S. 579, 113 S.Ct. 2786, 125 L.Ed.2d 469 (1993), the Court
is nonetheless satisfied that such a hearing is unnecessary under
the present circumstances. In fact, upon the Court's inquiry at
oral argument on September 7, 1999, the Court was informed of the
parties' shared belief that the record was complete and that the
matter was ripe for adjudication by this Court without a Rule 104
hearing. The Court further notes that Dr. Tinari has been
previously and extensively deposed, the transcripts of which were
provided to the Court in connection with this motion. As such,
Padillas is distinguishable in that the district court there
excluded the proposed expert's report — submitted in opposition
to a summary judgment motion — without providing the expert the
opportunity to explain certain flaws in his methodology. Unlike
Padillas, the expert here had ample opportunity at his
deposition to explain, and even correct, certain deficiencies GM
brought to his attention. Cf. In re Paoli R.R. Yard PCB Litig.,
916 F.2d 829, 854 (3d Cir. 1990) (reversing a district court's
grant of summary judgment in defendants' favor because in
excluding expert evidence under Federal Rule of Evidence 703, the
court failed to "provide the plaintiffs with sufficient process
for defending their evidentiary submissions."). Because this
Court has before it a sufficient factual record upon which to
base its conclusion, and because a Rule 104 hearing would not
have brought any new information to light, the Court is satisfied
that such a hearing is unwarranted.
GM first attacks Dr. Tinari's qualifications as an expert in
the present matter. Specifically, GM contends that while Dr.
Tinari regards himself as an economic expert with primary
experience in calculating economic loss suffered by either
personal injury plaintiffs or employee plaintiffs, he lacks any
"prior experience or expertise with respect to evaluating
business plans or options, or any expertise on the automotive
industry from an economic perspective." Id. at 5. GM further
maintains that Dr. Tinari conceded that he lacks experience in
"valuing options available to employees under collective
bargaining agreements — with the limited exception of attaching a
value to a benefit in an economic loss analysis," which, GM
argues, is not the analysis Dr. Tinari conducted in his liability
report. Id. at 5-6. As such, GM avers that although Dr. Tinari
is an economist, he does not comply with Federal Rule of Evidence
702's requirement that a witness may give expert testimony if
qualified as an expert by "knowledge, skill, experience,
training, or education. . . ." to the extent he purports to
evaluate GM's business options with respect to the Trenton plant
as well as plaintiffs' options under the collective bargaining
agreement. Id. at 6-7.
To ascertain whether a proposed expert is qualified to act as a
witness at trial, courts are directed to engage in a two-step
inquiry. See Federal Judicial Center, Reference Manual on
Scientific Evidence, at 55 (1994). First, the court should
determine whether the proffered expert has minimal educational or
experiential qualifications in a field that is relevant to a
subject that will assist the trier of fact. See ibid. Second,
if the expert passes this threshold test, the court should
further compare the expert's area of expertise with the
particular opinion the expert seeks to offer. See ibid. The
expert should be permitted to testify only if the expert's
particular expertise, however acquired, enables the expert to
give an opinion that is capable of assisting the trier of fact.
While on the one hand, the Third Circuit has held that "`a
broad range of knowledge, skills and training qualify an expert
as such' and [courts must] `eschew imposing overly vigorous
requirements of expertise,'" the inquiry has not been reduced to
a mere formality. Velasquez, supra, 64 F.3d at 849 (quoting In
re Paoli R.R. Yard PCB Litig., 35 F.3d 717, 741 (3d Cir. 1994),
cert. denied sub nom. General Elec. Co. v. Ingram,
513 U.S. 1190, 115 S.Ct. 1253, 131 L.Ed.2d 134 (1995)). Thus, the
determination of whether an expert is qualified to testify about
a particular topic is predominantly a fact-specific question
governed by the unique circumstances in each case. For example,
in Surace v. Caterpillar, Inc., 111 F.3d 1039 (3d Cir. 1997),
the proposed expert was an electromechanical engineer, with a
degree in electrical engineering, and twenty years of experience
with Mack Trucks, who sought to testify about habituation. The
court held that "[a]lthough the Rule  mandates a policy of
liberal admissibility, both with respect to the substantive as
well as the formal qualification of experts," the proffered
expert did not meet the standard because he did not have the
requisite training or experience in the particular area for which
he was being offered to give testimony. Id. at 1055.
Conversely, in Hammond v. International Harvester Co.,
691 F.2d 646, 653 (3d Cir. 1982), based upon the particular circumstances
of that case, the Third Circuit permitted an engineer with sales
experience in automotive and agricultural equipment, who also
taught high school automobile repair, to testify in a products
liability action involving tractors.*fn3 Accordingly, the Third
Circuit has warned that "it is an abuse of discretion to exclude
testimony simply because the trial court does not deem the
proposed expert to be the best qualified or because the proposed
expert does not have the specialization that the court considers
most appropriate." Holbrook v. Lykes
Bros. Steamship Co., Inc., 80 F.3d 777, 782 (3d Cir.
The Third Circuit has clarified that general knowledge or
practical experience is a sufficient basis on which to qualify an
expert. Indeed, the Third Circuit noted that a witness can
qualify as an expert "under Rule 702 on the basis of practical
experience alone, and a formal degree, title, or educational
specialty is not required." Lauria v. National R.R. Passenger
Corp., 145 F.3d 593, 599 (3d Cir. 1998). In the Lauria case,
the circuit court found that the expert testimony of a veteran
Amtrak employee of twenty years, on the subject of Amtrak's
responsibility to "inspect and maintain the track in a safe
condition," was improperly excluded. Ibid.; see also Waldorf v.
Shuta, 142 F.3d 601, 627 (3d Cir. 1998) (finding a proposed
expert witness' generalized knowledge or practical experience may
be sufficient to qualify him as an expert).
With this framework in mind, this Court must first assess Dr.
Tinari's qualifications to testify as to the issues in this case.
The Court notes that Dr. Tinari's qualifications profile
highlights an extensive and distinguished professional career in
the field of economics. See Celauro Certification, Exhibit "A"
at 22-25. Dr. Tinari, currently a Professor of Economics at Seton
Hall University, received his B.S., M.A., and Ph.D. in Economics
from Fordham University, and has, since that time, served in
numerous academic and professional positions and has been the
recipient of several honors and awards in his field. See id. at
22-23. Dr. Tinari is also currently involved as a member of
several national economic associations. See id. at 24.
Moreover, Dr. Tinari has provided expert testimony at over 250
trials, arbitration hearings, and depositions, and has lectured
at various seminars on issues such as proving economic damages
and the use of economic experts to calculate lost wages and
benefits. See id. at 23. In addition to authoring "[n]umerous
economic loss appraisal reports for use in litigation regarding
economic daniages[,]" Dr. Tinari has also written and published
various articles addressing economic issues such as the role of
the economic expert, ethical issues for forensic economists, and
the valuation of economic damages in the context of personal
injury and wrongful death cases. Id. at 23-24. Dr. Tinari also
currently serves as an editorial reviewer for four economic and
business journals. See id. at 22.
This Court finds that Dr. Tinari qualifies to testify as an
expert on the issues addressed in his liability report. Indeed,
the Court is satisfied that Dr. Tinari has extensive experience
in the area of economics and is qualified to review and summarize
GM's financial plans regarding its decision to sell, close, or
keep the Trenton plant open, as well as to evaluate the options
available to plaintiffs from December 1992 through March 1993.
Contrary to GM's assertion, the fact that Dr. Tinari does not
have specific experience in the automotive industry or in
creating or evaluating business plans does not impact upon his
qualifications to review such plans and to summarize in a
concise, easy to understand fashion GM's own analyses of the
business options available to it. The Court further notes that
notwithstanding its belief that Dr. Tinari may not be the best
qualified expert to render testimony on this particular issue,
his testimony is nonetheless admissible and the weight to be
accorded that testimony is left to the province of the
jury. See Holbrook, supra, 80 F.3d at 782 ("witnesses may be
competent to testify as experts even though they may not, in the
court's eyes, be the `best' qualified. Who is `best' qualified is
a matter of weight upon which reasonable jurors may disagree.").
Similarly, in the context of valuing benefits under collective
bargaining agreements Dr. Tinari's deposition testimony reveals
that he has evaluated numerous wage and benefit provisions in
other agreements as well as in collective bargaining agreements —
albeit only from the perspective of an economic loss analysis, an
analysis different from the one conducted in his liability
report. See Celauro Certification, Exhibit "D" at 23.
Logically, the review of such agreements for purposes of
calculating losses requires an understanding of the value of the
benefits contained therein. It is thus inconsequential to the
present analysis that Dr. Tinari is neither an expert in
collective bargaining agreements nor in the automotive industry
when his liability report merely evaluates the wages and benefits
contained in the collective bargaining agreement, and in no way
requires him to determine any issues that would necessitate
specific expertise of collective bargaining agreements*fn5 or
the automotive industry. Finally, as plaintiffs point out in
their brief, GM's attempt to draw a distinction between valuing
loss in collective bargaining agreements, which Dr. Tinari has
experience doing, and valuing various benefit options is futile.
Certainly, analyzing the value and income stream that would have
resulted had plaintiffs accepted the SAAA and comparing that to
the income stream that would have resulted had ...