Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Ramirez v. U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement

United States District Court, District of Columbia

November 14, 2019

WILMER GARCIA RAMIREZ, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
U.S. IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT, et al., Defendants.

         Re Document Nos.: 212, 214, 231

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          RUDOLPH CONTRERAS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Denying Plaintiffs' Motion to Exclude Certain of the Opinions of Defendants' Experts Qing Pan and Joseph Gastwirth; Granting Plaintiffs' Motion to Exclude the Testimony of Defendants' Expert Gary Mead; and Denying Defendants' Motion to Exclude the Testimony of Plaintiffs' Expert in Pediatrics

         I. INTRODUCTION & BACKGROUND

         Plaintiffs in this case are young adults who arrived in the United States as unaccompanied alien children and were taken into the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (“ORR”), a component of the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”). Upon turning eighteen, they were transferred into the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) within the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”). Whenever such a custody transfer occurs, ICE is statutorily required to “consider placement [of the 18-year-old] in the least restrictive setting available after taking into account the alien's danger to self, danger to the community, and risk of flight.” 8 U.S.C. § 1232(c)(2)(B). But Plaintiffs allege that the agency sent them to adult detention facilities without considering less restrictive placements-the result, Plaintiffs say, of a systematic failure to comply with the applicable statutory mandate. They accordingly filed this class action lawsuit against ICE, DHS, and the Secretary of Homeland Security, alleging violations of § 706(1) and § 706(2) of the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”) and seeking declaratory and injunctive relief. A bench trial is scheduled to begin on December 2, 2019.

         This opinion addresses three motions in limine that are ripe for decision-two filed by Plaintiffs and one by Defendants. Each seeks to exclude testimony or a report by an expert that the other side has put forward. First, Plaintiffs have filed a Motion to Exclude Certain of the Opinions of Defendants' Experts Qing Pan and Joseph Gastwirth, arguing that they have offered opinions outside of their permissible expertise and role in the litigation. ECF No. 212. Plaintiffs have also filed a Motion to Exclude the Testimony of Defendants' Expert Gary Mead, arguing that Mead has offered inadmissible legal opinions and that, despite being designated a rebuttal expert, his opinions are not proper rebuttal. ECF No. 214. Defendants have filed a Motion to Exclude the Report and Testimony of Plaintiffs' Expert in Pediatrics, Dr. Julie Linton, on the grounds that her testimony is not admissible to assist the court in deciding the Plaintiffs' statutory claims. ECF No. 231. Each motion has been fully briefed and the Court will address each in turn after reviewing the legal standards that governs all three motions.

         II. ANALYSIS

         A. Legal Standard

         “While neither the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure nor the Federal Rules of Evidence expressly provide for motions in limine, the Court may allow such motions ‘pursuant to the district court's inherent authority to manage the course of trials.'” Barnes v. District of Columbia, 924 F.Supp.2d 74, 78 (D.D.C. 2013) (quoting Luce v. United States, 469 U.S. 38, 41 n.4 (1984)). “Motions in limine are designed to narrow the evidentiary issues at trial.” Williams v. Johnson, 747 F.Supp.2d 10, 14 (D.D.C. 2010). Importantly, a trial judge's discretion “extends not only to the substantive evidentiary ruling, but also to the threshold question of whether a motion in limine presents an evidentiary issue that is appropriate for ruling in advance of trial.” Barnes, 924 F.Supp.2d at 79 (quoting Graves v. District of Columbia, 850 F.Supp.2d 6, 11 (D.D.C. 2011)).

         Federal Rule of Evidence 702 provides that qualified expert testimony is admissible 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.” Fed.R.Evid. 702. A witness may qualify as an expert through knowledge, skill, experience, training or education. Id. “In general, Rule 702 has been interpreted to favor admissibility.” Khairkhwa v. Obama, 793 F.Supp.2d 1, 10 (D.D.C. 2011) (citing Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharm., Inc., 509 U.S. 579, 587 (1993); Fed.R.Evid. 702 advisory committee's note (2000)) (“A review of the caselaw after Daubert shows that the rejection of expert testimony is the exception rather than the rule.”). “The degree of ‘knowledge, skill, experience, training or education' required to qualify an expert witness ‘is only that necessary to insure that the witness's testimony ‘assist' the trier of fact.'” Khairkhwa, 793 F.Supp.2d at 11 (quoting Mannino v. Int'l Mfg. Co., 650 F.2d 846, 851 (6th Cir. 1981) (noting that the weight of the evidence is a matter to be assessed by the trier of fact)). “[I]t is not necessary that the witness be recognized as a leading authority in the field in question or even a member of a recognized professional community.” 29 Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice & Procedure § 6265 (2015). “The ‘assist' requirement is satisfied where the expert testimony advances the trier of fact's understanding to any degree.” Id.

         “The Rule requires trial courts to assume a ‘gatekeeping role,' ensuring that the methodology underlying an expert's testimony is valid and the expert's conclusions are based on ‘good grounds.'” Chesapeake Climate Action Network v. Export-Import Bank of the U.S., 78 F.Supp.3d 208, 219 (D.D.C. 2015) (quoting Daubert, 509 U.S. at 590-97). “The trial court's gatekeeping obligation applies not only to scientific testimony but to all expert testimony.” Groobert v. President & Dirs. of Georgetown Coll., 219 F.Supp.2d 1, 6 (D.D.C. 2002) (citing Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137, 148 (1999)). The gatekeeping analysis is “flexible” and “the law grants a district court the same broad latitude when it decides how to determine reliability as it enjoys in respect to its ultimate reliability determination.” Kumho Tire Co., 526 U.S. at 141-42. Trial courts may apply a variety of different factors in assessing reliability, including whether the expert's technique can be tested or has been subject to peer review, the existence of maintenance of standards and controls, and whether the technique has been generally accepted in the scientific community. See Groobert, 219 F.Supp.2d at 6 (citing Daubert, 509 U.S. at 593-94). In some cases, particularly in situations involving non-scientific testimony, the factors enunciated in Daubert may not be applicable, and a court's reliability analysis focuses on the expert's personal knowledge, which “can be a reliable and valid basis for expert testimony.” Id. at 7 (citing Kumho Tire Co., 526 U.S. at 149); see also Fed. R. Evid. 702. Expert testimony, however, “that rests solely on ‘subjective belief or unsupported speculation,' is not reliable.” Groobert, 219 F.Supp.2d at 6 (citing Daubert, 509 U.S. at 590).

         The Court is also mindful that “where a bench trial is in prospect, resolving Daubert questions at a pretrial stage is generally less efficient than simply hearing the evidence.” Victoria's Secret Stores Brand Mgmt., Inc. v. Sexy Hair Concepts, LLC, No. 07 Civ. 5804 (GEL), 2009 WL 959775, at *6, n.3 (S.D.N.Y. Apr. 8, 2009). This is because, in a bench trial, the “factfinder and the gatekeeper are the same.” In re Salem, 465 F.3d 767, 777 (7th Cir. 2006). A Daubert motion, therefore, effectively asks the Court to “gate-keep expert testimony from [itself].” Joseph S. v. Hogan, No. 06 Civ. 1042 (BMC) (SMG), 2011 WL 2848330, at *2 (E.D.N.Y. July 15, 2011); see also 4 J. Thomas McCarthy, McCarthy on Trademarks and Unfair Competition § 23:2.75 (4th ed. 2015) (“In a non-jury trial . . . the law gives the judge a wide scope of discretion to read expert affidavits or hear expert testimony which will assist in reaching an informed decision.”).

         B. Plaintiffs' Motion to Exclude Certain of the Opinions of Defendants' Experts Qing Pan and Joseph Gastwirth

         Plaintiffs' first motion in limine challenges some-but not all-of the opinions of Defendants' rebuttal experts Qing Pan and Joseph Gastwirth. Their report is a rebuttal to the report of Plaintiffs' expert statistician, Dr. Justin Lenzo. Pls.' Mem. in Supp. of Mot. to Exclude Certain of the Opinions of Defs.' Experts ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.