United States District Court, D. New Jersey
STANLEY R. CHESLER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court upon three in limine
motions: (1) Defendants' motion to preclude the testimony
of Plaintiff's expert witness Dr. James McMenamin [ECF
316]; (2) Defendants' motion to preclude Plaintiff from
litigating the legality of his interstate transfer [ECF 317];
and (3) Plaintiff's motion to preclude Defendants from
introducing evidence of Plaintiff's criminal convictions
and Plaintiff's disciplinary history while incarcerated
[ECF 318]. Opposition to each of the motions has been filed.
The Court proceeds to rule on the motions based on the papers
submitted, and without oral argument, pursuant to Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 78.
background of this case is well-known to the parties and has
been set forth at length in the Court's previous
opinions, the Court will provide only a brief summary of the
facts. This § 1983 action arises from an incident on
December 4, 2006. On that date, Defendants Frank Orlando and
Edward McCarthy, both troopers with the Pennsylvania State
Police, came to the Northern State Prison in Newark, New
Jersey, where Plaintiff Ricky Miller was then incarcerated,
for the purpose of transporting Mr. Miller to Pennsylvania to
face criminal charges pending against him in that state.
Plaintiff objected to the transfer. Plaintiff maintains that
when he questioned the validity of his transfer and asked to
see documentation authorizing the transfer, Defendants
refused to provide him with any paperwork or warrants and
forced him to comply. Defendants claim that Plaintiff
resisted their attempts to take him into their custody. It is
undisputed that when Troopers Orlando and McCarthy attempted
to handcuff Mr. Miller, Trooper Orlando punched Plaintiff in
the face. Plaintiff was treated in the Northern State Prison
infirmary and thereafter transported by Defendants to
claims that the force used by Defendants was
unconstitutionally excessive in violation of the Eighth
Amendment. The instant lawsuit alleges that the
Defendants' excessive force caused Plaintiff to sustain
dental injuries and resulted in the extraction of several
teeth subsequent to the incident. While the original
Complaint asserted a number of causes of action, the sole
claim proceeding to trial is an Eighth Amendment claim
against Troopers Orlando and McCarthy.
trial of this action is scheduled to commence on September 5,
2018. In anticipation of several issues that will arise at
trial, the parties have filed three motions in
limine, which are the subject of the instant Opinion.
The Court will address each in limine motion in
Motion To Preclude Testimony of Plaintiff's Expert Dr.
has proffered the expert opinion of a dentist, Dr. James P.
McMenamin, in support of his claim that Defendants'
conduct caused him to sustain dental injuries. In the
expert's February 6, 2017 report, Dr. McMenamin states
that he performed an oral and maxillofacial examination on
Mr. Miller on September 27, 2016. He notes that, at the time
of the examination, Mr. Miller had a full maxillary denture
and partial mandibular denture. Dr. McMenamin's report
also states that he reviewed Plaintiff's applicable
medical records. Dr. McMenamin opines that “it is
apparent from the records that the altercation of December 4,
2006 caused [Mr. Miller] significant dental trauma” and
“conclude[s] to a reasonable degree of Medical/Dental
certainty that the trauma Mr. Miller sustained on December 4,
2006 when he was punched several times by State Troopers set
in motion the subsequent loss of Mr. Miller's remaining
maxillary teeth and all but 7 of his mandibular teeth.”
(Mot. Ex. 1, ECF 316-2.)
challenge the admissibility of Dr. McMenamin's testimony
as unreliable. They argue that in his perfunctory,
page-and-a-half long report, Dr. McMenamin provides no
reliable methodology for having reached the conclusion that
Plaintiff's significant dental problems and many tooth
extractions were caused by Trooper Orlando having struck Mr.
Miller in the face. They point out that at his deposition,
Dr. McMenamin conceded that his clinical exam of Mr. Miller,
conducted almost ten years after the incident, did not allow
him to form a conclusion as to what caused the damage to Mr.
Miller's teeth, resulting in his many extractions.
(McMenamin Dep. 20:7-11.) They further point out that Dr.
McMenamin also conceded that tooth extractions have a number
of different possible causes-decay, periodontal disease,
trauma, and infection-and that the medical records gave him
no indication as to the reason Mr. Miller's teeth had
been extracted. (Id. at 21:22-22:1, 24:3-11,
35:10-20.) Indeed, they note that Dr. McMenamin acknowledged
that, as of October 2006, just prior to the incident,
Plaintiff was already planning on having three teeth
extracted. (Id. at 25:5-14.) Thus, Defendants
maintain, Dr. McMenamin has no grounds for concluding that
the many tooth extractions Mr. Miller underwent in the years
following the December 4, 2006 incident were caused by trauma
sustained by Plaintiff when he was struck by Trooper Orlando.
Defendants submit that Dr. McMenamin's opinion amounts to
no more than speculation, unsupported by a reliable
methodology, and must therefore be excluded.
Court agrees. The Court bears an obligation to act as a
gatekeeper and ensure that expert testimony is both relevant
and reliable. Kumho Tire Co., Ltd. v. Carmichael,
526 U.S. 137 (1999); Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharms.,
Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993). Federal Rule of Evidence 702
sets the standard for admissibility of expert testimony. It
If scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will
assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to
determine a fact in issue, a witness qualified as an expert
by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education, may
testify thereto in the form of an opinion or otherwise, if
(1) the testimony is based upon sufficient facts or data, (2)
the testimony is the product of reliable principles and
methods, and (3) the witness has applied the principles and
methods reliably to the facts of the case.
Fed. R. Evid. 702.
Daubert opinion, the Supreme Court articulated
various factors that a district court may use to analyze the
reliability of expert testimony. That non-exhaustive list of
factors is as follows: (1) whether the particular theory can
be and has been tested; (2) whether the theory has been
subjected to peer review and publication; (3) the known or
potential rate of error; (4) the existence and maintenance of
standards controlling the technique's operation; and (5)
whether the technique has achieved general acceptance in the
relevant scientific or expert community. Daubert,
509 U.S. at 593-94. Later, in Kumho Tire, the
Supreme Court clarified that “the test of reliability
is flexible, and Daubert's list of specific
factors neither necessarily nor exclusively applies to all
experts or in every case.” Kumho Tire, 526
U.S. at 141. The crux of the inquiry as to reliability is
whether the expert's testimony is based on “good
grounds” rather than the “subjective belief or
unsupported speculation” of the expert witness.
United States v. Williams, 235 Fed. App'x 925,
928 (3d Cir. 2007) (quoting Daubert, 509 U.S. at
case, it is apparent that the opinion offered by Dr.
McMenamin is not based on good grounds. In his report, he
provides two bases for his opinion that the incident of
December 4, 2006 caused Mr. Miller's dental injuries: his
clinical examination of Mr. Miller conducted nearly ten years
after the incident and his review of the medical records. The
report, however, does not explain how Dr. McMenamin used the
information he gathered to form his opinion. Nor does it
explain how the records and exam support his conclusion. When
given an opportunity to draw a connection between his opinion
and its two purported bases, Dr. McMenamin conceded in his
deposition testimony that neither the records nor the
examination conclusively demonstrated that Mr. Miller's
injuries were caused by trauma sustained as a result of
Trooper Orlando's striking Mr. Miller in the face.
Indeed, it appears Dr. McMenamin's sole basis for his
opinion is Mr. Miller's own account of the December 4,
2006 incident, in which Mr. Miller informed Dr. McMenamin
that after the incident, he was bleeding from his mouth and
felt his teeth were loose. (McMenamin Dep. 36:9-20.)
expert has provided no methodology for his conclusions. His
opinion is therefore unreliable and inadmissible under
Federal Rule of Evidence 702. Accordingly, the Court will
grant Defendant's motion to ...