United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division
Hannah Lauck United States District Judge
matter comes before the Court on Defendant Dominion Payroll
Services, LLC's ("Dominion") Motion to Strike
Plaintiffs Supplementary Expert Designation (the "Motion
to Strike"). (ECF No. 39.) Plaintiff Angela Georges
responded, (ECF No. 52), and Dominion replied, (ECF No. 56).
The Court heard oral argument on May 3, 2018. Neither party
chose to call any witnesses. Accordingly, the matter is ripe
for disposition. For the reasons that follow, the Court will
grant the Motion to Strike.
Factual and Procedural Background
filed her Complaint against Dominion on September 19, 2016.
(ECF No. 1.) Georges's Complaint alleges one count:
"Violations of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act
[the 'ADEA']." (Compl. 5, ECF No. 1.) Georges
asserts membership in the class of people protected by the
ADEA because she is over forty years old. She contends that
Dominion wrongfully terminated her by intentionally
discriminating against her on the basis of age. Georges
claims to have suffered damages, including embarrassment,
inconvenience, humiliation, severe mental anguish, pain,
suffering, loss of income, litigation expenses, consequential
damages, and statutory damages.
filed a Motion to Dismiss, contending that Georges failed to
state a claim upon which relief could be granted, which the
Court denied. The Court held an Initial Pretrial Conference
and set the case for a three-day jury trial to begin May 1,
2018. Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
26(a)(2)(B),  and as required by the Initial Pretrial
Order, Georges filed an expert witness designation on
December 29, 2018.
February 2, 2018, Georges filed a Motion for Extension of
Time to File Expert Disclosure (the "Motion for
Extension"), seeking "an extension of thirty (30)
days in which to file another [e]xpert [disclosure naming
another expert to testify at trial and providing an expert
report in accordance with Rule 26(a)(2)(B)" because her
original expert "had suffered a recent heart attack, was
still in serious medical condition, and will be unable to
participate further in this case." (Mot. Extension 1-2,
ECF No. 33.) Dominion opposed the Motion for Extension,
arguing in part that granting the Motion for Extension would
be futile because "the subject matter of the disclosure
is improper under [federal law governing expert
testimony]." (Resp. Mot. Extension 1, ECF No. 35.)
March 2, 2018, the Court heard argument on the Motion for
Extension. Despite noting that Dominion's futility
argument was well-taken, the Court granted Georges until
close of business March 9, 2018, to file a supplemental
expert disclosure. The Court admonished Georges that her
supplemental expert disclosure must conform to the subject
matter of her initial expert disclosure so as not to unfairly
prejudice Dominion. The Court also extended the parties'
deadlines to file motions for summary judgment and motions
challenging expert designations until March 16, 2018.
March 9, 2018, Georges filed her Supplemental Expert
Designation designating Dr. Deb Cohen, Human Resource
Consultant, as an expert in the field of "[e]mployment,
benefit plans, and human resource management." (Suppl.
Expert Designation 2, ECF No. 38.) Georges states that she
expects Dr. Cohen to "testify generally, based on her
background, training, expertise, review of documents obtained
by counsel and through discovery, about the industry
standards and practices with regard to Defendant's lack
of compliance with the Age Discrimination in Employment Act
(ADEA)." (Id.) On March 16, 2018, Dominion
timely filed the Motion to Strike.
Analysis: The Motion to Strike
challenges Georges's designation of Dr. Cohen as an
expert, arguing that Dr. Cohen's testimony should not be
allowed because it: (1) fails to "meet the standards for
allowable expert testimony under [the federal rules]";
(2) "is unnecessary to assist the jury and would create
confusion"; and, (3) "includes matters outside of
Dr. Cohen's personal knowledge." (Mot. Strike 1, ECF
No. 39.) Georges counters that Dr. Cohen's proposed
testimony is sufficiently helpful, "based on sufficient
facts, " and "the product of reliable
principles----- applied to the facts in this case."
(Resp. Mot. Strike 4, ECF No. 52.) Georges further contends
that Dr. Cohen's proposed testimony would not confuse the
jury and does not require personal knowledge because expert
testimony need not be based on personal knowledge.
Court finds that, even assuming Dr. Cohen is an expert in the
field, her proposed testimony is inadmissible because: (1)
Dr. Cohen's lack of articulated reliable principles and
methods in reaching her conclusions renders her expert
testimony inadmissible; and, (2) Dr. Cohen's expert
testimony amounts to impermissible legal conclusions that are
not helpful to the jury.
Rule of Evidence 702 "imposes a special obligation upon
a trial judge to 'ensure that any and all [expert]
testimony ... is not only relevant, but reliable.'"
Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137, 147
(1999) (quoting Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharms.,
Inc., 509 U.S. 579, 589 (1993) (second alteration in
original)). "'There are many different kinds of
experts, and many different kinds of expertise.' The fact
that a proposed witness is an expert in one area, does not
ipso facto qualify him [or her] to testify as an
expert in all related areas." Shreve v.
Sears, Roebuck & Co., 166 F.Supp.2d 378, 391 (D.
Md. 2001) (quoting Kumho Tire, 526 U.S. at 150).
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 ...