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C.F.B. v. Hayden

United States District Court, D. Kansas

March 25, 2019

C.F.B., a minor, by and through her next friend TERRI E. BAKER, Plaintiff,
SHERIFF CALVIN HAYDEN, et al., Defendants.



         Plaintiff C.F.B., a minor, by and through her grandmother and next friend, Terri E. Baker, brings this action against Johnson County Sheriff Calvin Hayden, Lieutenant Thomas Reddin, Sergeant Christopher Mills, and Deputy Travis Turner. Plaintiff claims that defendants deprived her of her civil rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 when members of the Johnson County Sheriff's Office illegally seized her from her grandfather's driveway. The matter is now before the court on defendants' Motion to Exclude or Limit Plaintiff's Expert Witness and Report (Doc. 112). Defendants seek to exclude the testimony and report of plaintiff's expert, Adrienne Dreher Benson, under Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharm., Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993). For the reasons set forth below, the court denies defendants' motion.

         I. Background

         On September 2, 2015, defendants Deputy Travis Turner, Sergeant Christopher Mills, and Lieutenant Thomas Reddin arrived at the home of Linus and Terri Baker to serve a temporary Protection from Abuse Order (“PFA”) on the Baker's daughter, Maggie McCormick. A judge in Wyandotte County, Kansas granted Maggie's estranged husband, Ryan McCormick, a temporary PFA against Maggie. Within the order, the judge granted Ryan temporary sole custody of the couple's child, S.F.M.

         As defendants arrived at the Baker's home, they encountered Linus Baker in the driveway with plaintiff, who is his granddaughter and Maggie's other child with another man. Neither Maggie nor S.F.M. were outside. Defendants informed Linus Baker they had a PFA and that they needed to speak with Maggie. When Linus told them to leave, Sgt. Mills responded, “we're not doing that, I've got a court order, we're here to take [S.F.M.] . . . I've got a court order, she's going with us.”

         Baker continued to demand that the officers leave, and Sgt. Mills insisted that he had “a protection from abuse order granting sole custody to the plaintiff.” Baker began to retreat up the driveway and Sgt. Mills followed him and approached plaintiff, who was standing nearby. Sgt. Mills asked plaintiff, “are you [S.F.M.]? Come here sweetheart.” As Sgt. Mills reached down to pick up plaintiff, Baker began yelling “that is not [S.F.M.]!” Plaintiff began to cry and scream for her mother as soon as Sgt. Mills picked her up. Baker continued to yell at Sgt. Mills to “give me that baby, give me [C.F.B.].” Sgt. Mills proceeded to carry plaintiff down the driveway noting he was going to “check with the parents” presumably about the identity of the child. Sgt. Mills carried plaintiff off the driveway and took her to a van where Ryan was parked with his mother. Sgt. Mills asked Ryan if plaintiff was S.F.M. to which Ryan responded “no, [S.F.M.] is a boy.” Sgt. Mills then carried plaintiff back up the driveway. Baker grabbed plaintiff out of his arms and carried her up the driveway, continuing to demand that the officers get off his property.

         Plaintiff filed the present suit against defendants for violating her Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable seizures. As part of the litigation, plaintiff was evaluated by Adrienne Dreher Benson, a Licensed Professional Counselor. Benson earned her master's degree in licensed counseling at the Denver Seminary in 2006. She held a license in Colorado-although there is some confusion as to what license she held. Defendants allege that after graduating with her master's degree, she was a licensed Registered Psychotherapist in Colorado from March 2006 to June 2007. Between 2006 and 2010, Benson worked sporadically, occasionally doing contract work for schools while she stayed at home with her children. At some point after 2006, she relocated to Kansas City. She allowed her Colorado license to lapse while she pursued her Missouri license, which she received in 2012. In order to get licensed in Missouri, Benson did postgraduate work at Rockhurst and completed 2, 000 supervised hours.

         For about six months between 2014-2015, Benson was hired by the Pembroke School to work with a second-grade student who had suffered from sexual-abuse related trauma. She has some experience evaluating children for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (“PTSD”). Benson also formed a private counseling practice in which she sees approximately 10-15 clients per week. She has testified in child custody cases and has worked as a therapist with young children since 2006.

         Benson met with plaintiff twice for approximately 45 minutes each time. She also interviewed Linus and Terri Baker, reviewed the video of the September 2, 2015 incident, and reviewed plaintiff's educational and medical records. Based on her evaluation, Benson concluded that plaintiff shows signs of PTSD related to the September 2, 2015 incident.

         Defendants now move to exclude or limit Benson's testimony, arguing she is not qualified to render an expert opinion concerning any diagnosis pertaining to plaintiff's trauma, and because she did not reliably apply the principles and methods generally accepted for the evaluation and diagnosis of PTSD.

         II. Standard

         Federal Rule of Evidence 702 determines the admissibility of expert testimony. Daubert, 509 U.S. at 588 (1993). Federal Rule of Evidence 702 states 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 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.

         This rule reflects the court's gatekeeping function, which requires the court to determine whether expert testimony will assist the trier of fact. Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137, 147 (1999). The proponent of expert testimony bears the burden of showing that the testimony is admissible. United States v. Nacchio, 555 F.3d 1234, 1241 (10th Cir. 2009). However, the ...

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