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Geologists

Admissibility Rate: .500    (1/2)

Dodge v. Cotter Corp., 328 F.3d 1212 (10th Cir.), cert. denied, 540 U.S. 1003 (2003).  In toxic tort suit arising from operation of uranium mill, plaintiffs offer expert testimony from: (1) geologist Glen Miller, to show presence in environment of toxic substances from mill; (2) Dr. Malin Dollinger, to provide physician testimony that exposure to those toxic substances caused plaintiffs' health conditions; and (3) toxicologist Martyn Smith, Ph.D., to provide additional causation testimony.  Defendant files 47-page motion to strike, appending thousands of pages of expert reports, deposition testimony, and relevant literature.  District court concludes that motion and appendix violate local rules re length, and instructs defendant to file motion and appendix not exceeding twenty pages apiece.  District court also advises parties it will convene Daubert hearing but would prefer not to hear live testimony unless absolutely necessary.  At hearing, defendant seeks to introduce testimony from three of its own experts, but district court refuses, citing defendant's failure to notify court in timely manner.  After four hours of argument, district court then reserves ruling until trial.  During in camera voir dire at trial, district court issues oral rulings that testimony will be admitted, offering explanations focusing primarily on expert's qualifications.  Jury returns verdict for plaintiffs.  Admissibility reversed.  District court's various limitations on defendant's ability to present information, taken together, constituted abuse of discretion.  Moreover, district court did not prepare sufficiently detailed findings on reliability issues to permit appellate review.  Remanded for new trial.

United States v. McPhilomy, 270 F.3d 1302 (10th Cir. 2001), cert. denied, 535 U.S. 966 (2002).  Defendants remove several tons of stone from government community pit without proper permits and are charged with theft.  Defendants object to testimony from government's geologist re quality, quantity, and value of stone.  Admissibility affirmed.  Geologist inspected stone, had considerable training and experience, and used same methods he utilized when performing work for Bureau of Land Management (BLM).  More extensive and costly tests might have been preferable, but geologist's work was sufficiently reliable to support his opinion on quality of stone.  He also employed common method for estimating tonnage -- i.e., he estimated volume of stone and calculated weight based on data provided for that purpose in BLM publication.  And geologist could properly estimate retail value by inquiring at other stone yards about retail prices of comparable stone. 

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