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DL v. District of Columbia

August 10, 2010

DL, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Royce C. Lamberth, Chief Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Before the Court is Defendants' Motion [181] to Strike Report and Testimony of Dr. Leonard Cupingood, Along with All Evidence Based Thereon. Upon consideration of the motion, plaintiffs' opposition [184] thereto, defendants' reply brief [190], and plaintiffs' sur-reply brief [191-2], the Court will deny the motion for the reasons set forth below.

I. BACKGROUND

The Court set out the background of this case in its memorandum opinion issued this same date regarding defendants' motion for summary judgment and plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment on liability.

At issue here is the testimony of plaintiffs' statistical expert, Dr. Leonard A. Cupingood. Dr. Cupingood reviewed data from two databases, covering the time period of 2000 to 2009, to assess the number of children in the District ages 3 to 5 "with suspected disabilities who were to be assessed for their eligibility for special education and related services." (Bernard R. Siskin and Leonard A. Cupingood, Statistical Analysis of Timeliness of Assessment of Eligibility for Special Education Services for Children Aged Three to Five in the District of Columbia Public Schools 2000-2008 (April 2009) ("Cupingood Report") at 2.) Before beginning his analysis, Dr. Cupingood "cleaned" the data by, inter alia, "consolidating approximately 130 records having a complete duplication of all information except for the student ID." (Cupingood Aff., May 18, 2010 ("Cupingood Aff.") at ¶ 8.) Dr. Cupingood then analyzed the data, the results of which the Court relied on in its summary judgment opinion issued this same date.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

The Court may qualify an expert on the basis of his "knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education." FED. R. EVID. 702. Plaintiffs have the burden of establishing by a preponderance of the evidence that the expert is so qualified and that the testimony is admissible. Meister v. Med. Eng'g Corp., 267 F.3d 1123, 1127 n.9 (D.C. Cir. 2001); FED. R. EVID. 702 advisory committee's notes to 2000 amend.

The relevant Federal Rules of Evidence governing expert testimony state:

If scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will assist the trier of fact to understand the evidenceor to determine a fact in issue, a witness qualified as an expert . . . 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.

FED. R. EVID. 702.

The facts or data in the particular case upon which an expert bases an opinion or inference may be those perceived by or made known to the expert at or before the hearing. If of a type reasonably relied upon by experts in the particular field in forming opinions or inferences upon the subject, the facts or data need not be admissible in evidence in order for the opinion or inference to be admitted. Facts or data that are otherwise inadmissible shall not be disclosed to the jury by the proponent of the opinion or inference unless the court determines that their probative value in assisting the jury to evaluate the expert's opinion substantially outweighs their prejudicial effect.

FED. R. EVID. 703.

III. DISCUSSION

As a preliminary matter, plaintiffs argue that the Court may postpone ruling on this motion until trial. (Pls.' Opp'n at 14.) The Court, however, relies on Dr. Cupingood's testimony in its summary judgment order issued this same date. Accordingly, the Court will rule on the admissibility of ...


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