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Veterinarians

Admissibility Rate: 1.000    (2/2)

Jahn v. Equine Servs., PSC, 233 F.3d 382 (6th Cir. 2000).  Champion hackney pony is found dead in stall at veterinary facility after surgery to correct breathing problem.  Owner brings malpractice action and offers testimony from two veterinarian experts, Dr. George Mundy and Dr. Rhonda Robbins.  Defendants move for summary judgment on grounds that plaintiffs' experts do not opine on precise cause of pony's death.  Acting sua sponte and with no further briefing, district court excludes testimony from both experts under Daubert and grants summary judgment.  Exclusion reversed.  District court excluded Dr. Mundy's testimony in part because Dr. Mundy worked in university setting and had never performed surgical procedure at issue.  But Dr. Mundy did not opine on surgical procedure.  Rather, he criticized defendants for failure to conduct adequate preoperative examination and failure to monitor pony after surgery.  His lack of hands-on familiarity with relevant surgical procedure was therefore irrelevant to Daubert inquiry.  District court also faulted both experts for failing to offer definite opinion on cause of pony's death, but experts did present scenario they deemed most likely -- i.e., that pony had mild infection that was exacerbated by anesthetic, sending pony into shock.  Issue was ultimately whether defendants caused pony's death, and experts' inability to state conclusions on precise cause of death with greater certainty was largely attributable to defendants' lack of adequate records.  Experts did not pull their opinions from thin air but worked from facts presented to them.  In any event, experts were not required to exclude all possible alternative causes.  District court also discounted experts' opinions because pathologist who examined pony found no infection, but this merely created factual issue and was not grounds for discounting experts' methodology.  As for proceedings on remand, record on Daubert issues is inadequate for final appellate resolution of admissibility -- unsurprisingly, because district court afforded plaintiff no notice that it would be ruling on admissibility of plaintiffs' expert testimony.  On remand, record should be developed, and district court should provide plaintiff with adequate opportunity to defend admissibility.

Pullman v. Land O'Lakes, Inc., 262 F.3d 759 (8th Cir. 2001).  Dairy farmers retain corporation for dairy consulting.  Corporation's veterinarian works with farmers in preparing dairy rations.  After veterinarian adds steam flaked soybeans to feed, many cows stop eating, become ill, and/or die.  In trial of dairy farmers' negligence claim against corporation, dairy farmers offer testimony from two veterinarians whom they commissioned to perform experimental test recreating feeding conditions from time period at issue.  Admissibility affirmed.  Veterinarians were not testifying as experts, and did not offer opinions.  They testified only concerning facts relating to experimental test, and their testimony was therefore not subject to Daubert.

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