The opinion of the court was delivered by: David N. Hurd, United States District Judge
MEMORANDUM-DECISION and ORDER
At all times relevant hereto, Zollinger was employed by A.C. Leadbetter
& Sons, Inc. Defendant hired A.C. Leadbetter & Sons to rebuild a
furnace at defendant's Auburn facility. On December 14, 1999, plaintiff
and one of defendant's employees, David Hopkins ("Hopkins"), were
operating forklifts in defendant's warehouse when they collided at an
intersection of two aisles. Zollinger's forklift tipped over and he
sustained the injury to his left foot. At the time of the accident,
plaintiff was not wearing the seat belt on the forklift.
A moving party is entitled to summary judgment "if the pleadings,
depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together
with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to
any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as
a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). The ultimate inquiry is whether a
reasonable jury could find for the nonmoving party based on the evidence
presented, the legitimate inferences that could be drawn from that
evidence in favor of the nonmoving party, and the applicable burden of
proof. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 252 (1986). In
determining a motion for summary judgment, all inferences to be drawn
from the facts contained in the exhibits and depositions "must be viewed
in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion." United
States v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655 (1962); Hawkins v. Steingut,
829 F.2d 317, 319 (2d Cir. 1987). Nevertheless, "the litigant opposing
summary judgment `may not rest upon mere conclusory allegations or
denials' as a vehicle for obtaining a trial." Quinn v. Syracuse Model
Neighborhood Corp., 613 F.2d 438, 445 (2d Cir. 1980) (quoting SEC v.
Research Automation Corp., 585 F.2d 31, 33 (2d Cir. 1978)).
Plaintiffs seek to exclude the testimony of defendant's proffered
accident reconstruction expert Richard Otterbein ("Otterbein").
Plaintiffs argue that (1) defendant has failed to lay a foundation as to
Otterbein's ability to testify as a seat belt expert; (2) Otterbein is
not qualified as an accident reconstructionist; (3) expert testimony is
not needed to determine whether it was reasonable for Hopkins to assume
he was alone in the warehouse; (4) Otterbein's report and testimony is
otherwise not based on adequate facts or data; and (5) defendant failed
to make a full disclosure as required by Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(a)(2)(B).
Defendant disagrees, contending that Otterbein possesses all the
necessary prerequisite training and education to form an opinion on the
issues in this case, he conducted a thorough analysis of this matter, his
opinion is helpful to a trier of fact in understanding evidence and/or
determining issues concerning the accident, and plaintiff's arguments go
the weight of Otterbein's testimony, rather than its admissibility.
Rule 702 of the Federal Rules of Evidence provides that:
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 on 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.
A district court is vested with broad discretion whether to admit expert
testimony. See United States v. Feliciano, 223 F.3d 102, 120 (2d Cir.
2000), cert. denied sub. nom. 532 U.S. 943 (2001). As an initial matter,
expert testimony is admissibly only "[i]f scientific, technical, or other
specialized knowledge will assist the trier of fact to understand the
evidence or to determine a fact in issue." Fed.R.Evid. 702. Once this
threshold has been met, the expert's testimony must be shown to be based
on more than unsupported speculation or subjective belief. See Daubert
v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, 509 U.S. 579, 590 (1993). It need not,
however, rise to the level of a known certainty. Id. The testimony must
rest on a reliable foundation and be relevant to the issues presented.
Amorgianos v. Nat'l R.R. Passenger Corp., No. 01-7508, ___ F.3d ___, 2002
WL 1978911, at *___ (2d Cir. Aug. 28, 2002).
The standards of Fed.R.Evid. 401 dictate whether the testimony is
relevant. Id. Rule 702 itself sets forth some guidelines for determining
whether the testimony rests on a reliable foundation.*fn1 These factors
are not, however, exclusive. Id. The inquiry must necessarily be flexible
and correlate to the facts of the particular case. Id. "In undertaking
this flexible inquiry, the district court must focus on the principles
and methodology employed by the expert, without regard to the conclusions
the expert has reached or the district court's belief as to the
correctness of those conclusions." Id. That is not, however, to suggest
that a district court must remain blind to the expert's ultimate
conclusions. To the contrary, "`[a] court may conclude that there is
simply too great an analytical gap between the data and the opinion
proffered.'" Id. (quoting Gen. Elec. Co. v. Joiner, 522 U.S. 136, 146
(1997)). In short, expert testimony should be admitted if the expert
demonstrates "good grounds" for his or her conclusions. Id.
Here, defendant's expert offers testimony concerning (1) the cause of
the accident (whether Zollinger's forklift tipped because of the impact
with Hopkins' forklift or Zollinger's alleged erratic maneuvering to
avoid the impact); and (2) whether ...