United States District Court, E.D. Texas, Tyler Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
D. LOVE, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
the Court is Defendant Eagle Tubulars, LLC's
("Defendant") Motion to Exclude the Expert
Testimony of Plaintiff Woodbine Production Corp.'s
("Plaintiff) Expert. (Doc. No. 66.) Plaintiff responded.
(Doc. No. 67.)
rented a work-string and a PH6 and P110 pipe from Defendant
to clean out an existing well. (Doc. No. 66 at 1.) The
work-string became stuck in the well and when Plaintiff tried
to free it, the pipe parted, resulting in sections stuck in
the well. Id. at 1-2. Plaintiff brought this action
alleging Defendant's pipe and work-string were not fit
for their particular purpose as set forth by the
standards. (Doc. No. 1 at ¶¶ 6-10.) Plaintiff
identified Donnie Jones ("Jones") as a petroleum
engineer who will testify at trial as an expert regarding
"the reasonable and customary standards, duties and
responsibilities of an operator in the oil and gas
industry." (Doc. No. 66-5 at 2 (Plaintiff Expert
Disclosures).) Plaintiff expects Mr. Jones to "testify
that the API limits were never exceeded on this job and the
pipe should have never parted. The pipe was defective and not
fit for its ordinary and intended use." Id.
accordance with Federal Rule of Evidence 104(a), when faced
with expert testimony, the trial court acts as a
"gatekeeper" and must perform "a preliminary
assessment of whether the reasoning or methodology underlying
the testimony is scientifically valid and of whether that
reasoning or methodology properly can be applied to the facts
in issue." Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharm., Inc.,
509 U.S. 579, 592-95 (1993).
admit expert testimony, a court "must determine at the
outset, pursuant to Rule 104(a), whether the expert is
proposing to testify to: (1) scientific knowledge that (2)
will assist the trier of fact to understand or determine a
fact in issue." Daubert, 509 U.S. 579. Trial
judges have traditionally been afforded wide discretion to
admit or exclude expert evidence. See Peters v. Five Star
Marine, 898 F.2d 448, 450 (5th Cir. 1990) (citing
Eymard v. Pan American World Airways, 795 F.2d 1230,
1233 (5th Cir. 1986)); see also Hamling v. United
States, 418 U.S. 87 (1974).
702 of the Federal Rules of Evidence governs the
admissibility of expert testimony and reports. "Whether
the situation is a proper one for the use of expert testimony
is to be determined on the basis of assisting the
trier." Peters, 898 F.2d at 449 (citing FED. R.
EVID. 702 advisory committee's notes (2000)). Assisting
the trier of fact means "the trial judge ought to insist
that a proffered expert bring to the jury more than the
lawyers can offer in argument." Salas v.
Carpenter, 980 F.2d 299, 305 (5th Cir. 1992) (quoting
Eymard, 795 F.2d at 1233); see also Matherne v.
MISR Shipping Co., No. 88-2261, 1991 WL 99426, at *2
(E.D. La. 1991) (excluding expert whose testimony "would
offer little more than argument"). The district
court's responsibility "is to make certain that an
expert, whether basing testimony upon professional studies or
personal experience, employs in the courtroom the same level
of intellectual rigor that characterizes the practice of an
expert in the relevant field." Kumho Tire Co. v.
Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137, 152(1999).
evaluating expert testimony, the overarching concern is
generally focused on whether it is relevant and reliable.
See Daubert, 509 U.S. 579. To be reliable and
therefore admissible under Rule 702, expert testimony as to a
scientific, technical, or other specialized area must: (1)
assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to
determine a fact in issue; (2) be based upon sufficient facts
or data; (3) be the product of reliable principles and
methods; (4) and have reliably applied the principles and
methods to the facts. Fed.R.Evid. 702. "[T]he test of
reliability is 'flexible, ' and the Daubert
factors neither necessarily nor exclusively apply to all
experts or in every case. Rather, 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, 526
U.S. at 151.
general rule, questions relating to the bases and sources of
an expert's opinion affect the weight to be assigned that
opinion rather than its admissibility. See FED. R.
EVID. 702 Advisory Committee's Notes, 2000 Amendments
(citing Rock v. Arkansas, 483 U.S. 44, 61 (1987)).
While the district court must act as a gatekeeper to exclude
all unreliable expert testimony, "the rejection of
expert testimony is the exception rather than the rule."
FED. R. EVID. 702 advisory committee's notes (2000)
(citing Daubert, 509 U.S. 579; Kumho Tire,
526 U.S. 137). Importantly, in a jury trial setting, the
Court's role under Daubert is not to weigh the
expert testimony to the point of supplanting the jury's
fact-finding role; rather, the Court's role is limited to
that of a gatekeeper, ensuring that the evidence in dispute
is at least sufficiently reliable and relevant to the issue
before the jury that it is appropriate for the jury's
consideration. See Micro Chem., Inc. v. Lextron,
Inc., 317 F.3d 1387, 1391-92 (Fed. Cir. 2003) (applying
Fifth Circuit law) ("When, as here, the parties'
experts rely on conflicting sets of facts, it is not the role
of the trial court to evaluate the correctness of facts
underlying one expert's testimony."); Pipitone
v. Biomatrix, Inc., 288 F.3d 239, 249-50 (5th Cir. 2002)
("'[t]he trial court's role as gatekeeper [under
Daubert\ is not intended to serve as a replacement
for the adversary system). As the Supreme Court explained in
Daubert, 509 U.S. at 596, "[v]igorous
cross-examination, presentation of contrary evidence, and
careful instruction on the burden of proof are the
traditional and appropriate means of attacking shaky but
admissible evidence." See Mathis v. Exxon
Corp., 302 F.3d 448, 461 (5th Cir. 2002).
contends that Jones does not have the knowledge, skill,
experience, training, or education to offer expert testimony
concerning the pipe at issue. (Doc. No. 66 at 5.) Defendant
argues that Jones has no significant experience with
work-string pipe, and almost no experience with the PI 10
grade pipe. Id. Defendant states that Jones did not
have the experience to assess how the conditions in the well
affected the work-string's strength. Id. at 6.
Defendant further argues that Jones is unqualified because he
has no training in metallurgy and is not a professional
engineer. Id. at 7. Plaintiff counters that Jones is
qualified because he has a degree in petroleum engineering
and has worked since 1977 in the East Texas oil patch. (Doc.
No. 67 at 4.) Plaintiff maintains that he is familiar with,
and has researched, the specifications used with the pipe
strings used during the workover and to "fish" out
the pipe. Id. Plaintiff argues that due to his
experience and his review of the reports and other
documentations, Jones is qualified to give his opinion.
Id. at 5. Plaintiff states Jones has specialized
expertise in the area that is in question and has prior
experience dealing with similar matters. Id.
Plaintiff concludes that Jones does not have to be a
metallurgical expert before he can testify why the pipe
failed. Id. at 7.
testimony will aid the trier of fact is the standard a court
uses to determine an expert's qualifications to testify
at trial. Peters, 898 F.2d at 449. A trial court has
broad discretion in ruling on the qualifications of an
expert. Banks v. McGougan,717 F.2d 186, 190 (5th
Cir. 1983). Courts have found that extensive experience in an
industry can qualify an individual to testify as an expert.
See U.S. v. Austin Radiological Ass'n., No.
A-10-cv-914, 2014 WL 2515696, at *2 (W.D. Tex. June 4, 2014)
(citing Huval v. Offshore Pipelines, Inc., 86 F.4d
454, 457-58 (5th Cir. 1996)); Texas Capital Bank, N.A. v.
Dallas Roadster, Ltd., No. 5:13-cv-625, 2015 WL
12911344, at *2 (E.D. Tex. Mar. 31, 2015) ...