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Brown v. K&L Tank Truck Service, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Kansas

October 24, 2017

JOHN BROWN and BARBARA BROWN, Plaintiffs,
v.
K&L TANK TRUCK SERVICE, INC., ALFONSO MARTINEZ, and TOM HERRELL, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          J. Thomas Marten, Judge.

         This matter is before the court on plaintiffs John and Barbara Brown's Motion to Exclude Certain Opinion Testimony of Charles H. Claar, Jr. pursuant to Federal Rule of Evidence 702 (Dkt. 99). Plaintiffs argue that Mr. Claar is not qualified to give certain opinions and further that his testimony does not comport with the legal requirements of an expert witness. For the reasons stated below, plaintiffs' motion is granted in part, and denied in part without prejudice.

         I. Factual Background

         Mr. Claar received his Bachelor of Science with a concentration in accounting from Kansas State University in 1974. Mr. Claar has no other degrees, but he is a Certified Public Accountant (“CPA”) with the accounting firm Lewis, Hooper & Dick in Garden City, Kansas. Mr. Claar has provided accounting services to defendant K&L Tank Truck Service, Inc. (“K&L”) for decades.

         Defendants filed a Disclosure of Expert Witness for Mr. Claar on December 28, 2016, stating Mr. Claar saw K&L's “financial information monthly from the late 1970s to the present, he made certain accounting adjustments and prepared monthly financial repo[rt] compilations, he prepared K&L's tax returns, and he consulted with the management of K&L regularly.” (Dkt. 100-2, at 2). Mr. Claar is also identified as a fact witness for defendants based on his participation in some of the underlying events relevant to this case. Defendants did not retain Mr. Claar as an expert in this case, however, several of his opinions related to relevant facts and issues were developed during his work as K&L's CPA.

         II. Legal Standards

         District courts are to perform a “gatekeeping” role concerning the admission of expert testimony. See generally Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharm., Inc., 509 U.S. 579, 589-93 (1993); Ralston v. Smith & Nephew Richards, Inc., 275 F.3d 965, 969 (10th Cir. 2001). The admissibility of expert testimony is governed by Fed.R.Evid. 702, which states:

         A witness who is qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education may testify in the form of an opinion or otherwise if:

(a) the expert's scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will help the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue;
(b) the testimony is based on sufficient facts or data;
(c) the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods; and
(d) the expert has reliably applied the principles and methods to the facts of the case.

         The court performs a two-part analysis when determining whether an expert's opinions are admissible. Marten Transp., Ltd. v. Plattform Advert., Inc., 184 F.Supp.3d 1006, 1009 (D. Kan. 2016). First, the court considers whether the witness is qualified by “knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education” to render the opinions; and second, the court must determine whether the witness's opinions are “reliable” under the principles set forth in Daubert and Kumho Tire Co. Ltd. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137, 147-48 (1999). “The rejection of expert testimony is the exception rather than the rule.” Marten Transp., 184 F.Supp.3d at 1009 (citing Fed.R.Evid. 702 advisory committee notes).

         III. ...


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