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Pitterman v. General Motors LLC

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

May 16, 2016

BERNARD PITTERMAN, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
GENERAL MOTORS LLC, Defendant.

          RULING RE: MOTION TO PRECLUDE EXPERT TESTIMONY OF GARY M. CRAKES, PH.D (DOC. NO. 67); MOTION TO STRIKE OR LIMIT PLAINTIFFS’ EXPERT TESTIMONY (DOC. NO. 70)

          JANET C. HALL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         This case arises out of events that occurred on July 13, 2011, when M.R.O, an 8-year-old child, died in connection with an automobile accident involving a 2004 Chevrolet Suburban, which is manufactured by the defendant General Motors LLC (“GM”). The plaintiffs in this case are: (1) Bernard Pitterman, as administrator of the Estate of M.R.O.; (2) Bernard Pitterman, as guardian of the Estate of G.O., who is the victim’s brother; and, (3) Rose O’Connor, who is the victim’s mother (plaintiffs will be referred to, collectively, as “Pitterman”). James O’Connor, M.R.O.’s father, was at one time a plaintiff in this case, but is no longer. See Doc. No. 120 at 2 n. 1.

         Currently pending before the court are, inter alia, two motions in limine filed by GM, which the court will address in turn.

         II. MOTION TO PRECLUDE EXPERT TESTIMONY BY GARY M. CRAKES, PH.D. (DOC. NO. 67)

         Pitterman has disclosed Dr. Crakes as an expert who will testify as to “the economic losses” of M.R.O. and “the life expectancy and work life expectancy” of M.R.O. See Plaintiff’s Disclosure of Expert at 2 (Doc. No. 69-1) (“Crakes Disclosure”). In his report, Dr. Crakes opines that M.R.O.’s economic loss would be $1, 277, 000 if M.R.O. had earned a bachelor’s degree and $1, 463, 000 if she had earned a master’s degree. See id. at 10. GM seeks to preclude Dr. Crakes’s testimony as unduly speculative, because “[t]here simply is no basis for making any assumption about what type of advanced education M.R.O. might or might not have obtained.” General Motors LLC’s Memorandum in Support of Its Motion to Exclude the Testimony of Gary M. Crakes, Ph.D. at 3 (Doc. No. 68).

         Importantly, GM does not argue that the methodology Dr. Crakes used in order to arrive at the two dollar figures (economic loss for a female with a bachelor’s degree and economic loss for a female with a master’s degree) was in any way faulty. Indeed, if Dr. Crakes, in his report, had omitted any reference to M.R.O. and simply opined as to the economic loss of a generic female with a bachelor’s degree and a generic female with a master’s degree, it seems to the court that GM would have no basis for contesting Dr. Crake’s testimony. In fact, this is essentially what Dr. Crakes did - his report would not differ materially in any way if he had omitted M.R.O.’s name.

         Accordingly, Dr. Crakes will be permitted to testify as to the economic loss that, in his estimation, a female with a bachelor’s degree and a female with a master’s degree would have suffered. The onus will then fall on Pitterman to convince the jury, through other testimony and evidence, that M.R.O. would have earned either a bachelor’s or master’s degree.

         The Motion to Preclude Dr. Crakes’s expert testimony is denied.

         III. MOTION TO STRIKE / LIMIT PLAINTIFFS’ EXPERT TESTIMONY (DOC. NO. 70)

         In this Motion, GM seeks to strike or limit three distinct types of expert testimony offered by Pitterman. The court will address each request separately.

         A. Motion to Strike James O’Connor’s Expert Disclosure

         James O’Connor disclosed four expert witnesses. See Affidavit of Paul E.D. Darsow Ex. B at 1-2 (Doc. No. 72-2). However, as already discussed above, James O’Connor is no longer a party to this case. Accordingly, this portion of GM’s Motion - in which GM moves to strike James’s expert disclosure - is moot, and, as such, it is terminated as moot.

         B. Motion to Limit Treating Physicians’ and Treating Social Workers’ Expert Testimony to ...


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