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Zibolis-Sekella v. Ruehrwein

United States District Court, First Circuit

July 30, 2013

Dawn M. Zibolis-Sekella, Administrator of the Estate of Alisha F. Zibolis
v.
Kevin R. Ruehrwein and Clifford W. Perham, Inc.

PROCEDURAL ORDER

JOSEPH A. DiCLERICO, Jr., District Judge.

On May 31, 2013, Dawn M. Zibolis-Sekella filed motions in limine seeking to exclude the testimony and opinions of two of the defendants' experts: Robert Duval, a Chief Engineer with TFM Engineering, and Sergeant Kevin Furlong, a police officer with the Milford, New Hampshire, Police Department. The defendants objected to both motions.

Zibolis-Sekella challenges Duval's qualifications to give an "expert opinion that it is not possible to say with a reasonable degree of scientific certainty who had the right of way in the above-captioned motor vehicle accident." She argues that Duval is not an expert on "the operation of traffic signal timing and sequence" and is not a qualified accident reconstructionist. Although Duval is apparently an experienced engineer who has done work related to traffic, the defendants have not shown that he is qualified to render his "opinion that the video by itself is inconclusive in determining which driver had the red signal at the time of the crash." Duval Report at 3; see SMD Software, Inc. v. Emove, Inc., ___ F.Supp.2d ___, 2013 WL 1332432, at *7 (E.D. N.C. Mar. 29, 2013) (the relevant question is whether "a purported expert witness has... satisfactory knowledge, skill, experience, training [or] education on the issue for which the opinion is proffered....") (internal citations and quotations marks omitted) (emphasis added).

Zibolis-Sekella contends that Furlong is not qualified to give expert testimony because he "specifically denies being an expert or performing any accident reconstruction" in his deposition testimony. She further argues that Furlong's opinion is based solely on witness statements, rather than on "scientific evidence, " and is therefore unreliable.[1] Although the defendants discuss Furlong's experience and training, they do not show what is required to qualify Furlong as an expert in accident investigations. In addition, although the defendants discuss Furlong's methodology, they have not provided a sufficient basis to show that methodology is reliable.[2]

Conclusion

A hearing is necessary to determine whether Duval or Furlong is qualified to give the opinions the defendants seek. See Daubert , 509 U.S. at 592-93. A hearing will be held on Wednesday, August 28, 2013, at 10:00 a.m. on Zibolis-Sekella's motion in limine to exclude the testimony of Robert Duval (document no. 13) and her motion in limine to exclude the testimony and opinion of Kevin Furlong (document no. 14). ...


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