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Belcher v. United States

United States District Court, E.D. California

May 27, 2015

CALEB E. BELCHER; and CLB, by and through his guardian ad litem CALEB E. BELCHER, Plaintiffs,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Defendant.

ORDER ON MOTIONS IN LIMINE [*]

GARLAND E. BURRELL, Jr., District Judge.

Plaintiffs move in limine for a pretrial order precluding the admission of certain evidence at trial. Each motion is addressed below.

Motion in Limine No. 1

Plaintiffs move to exclude Defendant's accident reconstruction expert Dr. Rajeev Kelkar's "[Expert] Report with appendices (totaling over 200 pages of unauthenticated evidence), " arguing it is "inadmissible hearsay, " and "there has been insufficient foundation laid for [its] introduction." (Pls.' Mot. in Limine ("MIL") No. 11:23-27, 2:7-8, 2:16-26, ECF No. 33.) Plaintiffs also request "that the testimony of Dr. Kelkar be limited, and specifically that he not be allowed to comment upon or interpret the facts as contained within the subject surveillance video." (Id. at 4:7-9.) Plaintiffs argue:

[I]n his prior declaration[, ] Dr. Kelkar purports to offer "opinions" as to what the surveillance video (an overhead view of the accident location at the time of the subject incident) shows.... [T]o the extent his "opinions" are a description of what is occurring in the video, the matter is improper for expert comment, and further lacks sufficient foundation for his conclusions and opinions as it forces his reliance on a distant bird's eye view of the subject incident, without other personal knowledge....
The matter should further be precluded as that of improper opinion evidence.... Here, Dr. Kelkar's anticipated testimony stands to serve as a narrative of his perception of the... surveillance video, and what is occurring therein. Any "opinion" or "conclusion" derived theref[rom] is simply inappropriate for expert comment as the trier of fact is certainly capable... of interpreting such evidence as it is not beyond the common experience or ordinary skill of the trier of fact. Furthermore, ... Dr. Kelkar... has no personal knowledge on the subject..., and simply seeks to interpret "facts" veiled as an expert opinion.

(Id. at 3:3-4:6.)

Defendant counters: "Plaintiffs' request to exclude Dr. Kelkar's expert report and appendices is baseless. Dr. Kelkar is entitled to offer the opinions in his report and to testify... as to the bases for those opinions." (Def.'s Opp'n MIL No. 25:21-23, ECF No. 40.) Defendant argues:

Dr. Kelkar [is] entitled to rely on all the data referenced and attached to his report....
... [A]nalysis of video footage is a routine part of accident reconstruction analysis when available. Dr. Kelkar is also entitled to talk about the other bases for his opinions, including the vehicle specifications, Anthropometric Reference Data, and camera information.... This is the type of data that an expert routinely relies upon and is thus admissible under Rule 703 to show the bases for the expert's opinions.

(Id. at 6:17-7:3.)

Defendant also rejoins that "[t]here is no basis to limit or exclude the testimony of... Dr. Kelkar." (Id. at 1:18-19.) Defendant argues:

Plaintiff[]... [contends] that Dr. Kelkar offers improper opinions by doing nothing more than reciting what the video shows. This is false. To the contrary, Dr. Kelkar uses the information in the video as one data point for his expert assessment and opinions regarding the speed Officer Linn was driving, the amount of time between when minor CLB was standing still until the time he unexpectedly darted into the street and collided with Officer Linn's vehicle, the distance that minor CLB traveled, and whether Officer Linn could have stopped in time to avoid the accident. As noted in the report, Dr. Kelkar used measurements at the scene, analyzed the geometry of the accident location, and compared them with the video, which included a clock showing what occurred to the thousandth of a second. Dr. Kelkar thus takes the qualitative video footage and converts it to quantitative information that is used as a basis for his accident reconstruction conclusions. Accordingly, when Dr. Kelkar discusses the video ...

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