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Hearts With Haiti, Inc. v. Kendrick

United States District Court, D. Maine

September 24, 2014

HEARTS WITH HAITI, INC., et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
PAUL KENDRICK, Defendant.

ORDER DISMISSING DEFENDANT'S MOTION IN LIMINE

JOHN A. WOODCOCK, Jr., Chief District Judge.

Paul Kendrick seeks to exclude some of the designated expert testimony of Geoffrey Scott Hamlyn, Executive Director of Hearts with Haiti, Inc. (HWH). The Court concludes that some, but not all, of the proposed expert testimony may be admissible and, after setting forth some general principles, dismisses the motion in limine in anticipation of further development at trial.

I. BACKGROUND

This is a contentious civil action in which HWH and Michael Geilenfeld assert that Paul Kendrick has defamed them, placed them in a false light, invaded their privacy, and tortiously interfered with their advantageous economic relations. Verified Compl. and Demand for Jury Trial ¶¶ 89-105 (ECF No. 1). The Plaintiffs claim that Mr. Kendrick published numerous defamatory statements, accusing Mr. Geilenfeld, the Executive Director of St. Joseph Family of Haiti, of sexually abusing children under his organization's care, and further accusing HWH, a significant financial contributor to the St. Joseph Family, of failing to protect the Haitian children from Mr. Geilenfeld's abuse. Id. ¶¶ 47-48. Mr. Kendrick has firmly denied the essential allegations. Defenses and Answer (ECF No. 8).

A. Paul Kendrick's Positions

On March 21, 2014, Paul Kendrick filed a motion in limine, challenging whether Geoffrey Scott Hamlyn, HWH's Executive Director, should be allowed to testify about (1) his understanding of the motivations of HWH's donors; (2) hearsay statements from HWH's donors; (3) his "reach extender" methodology; and (4) his "comparative revenue analysis." Def.'s Mot. to Seal Attach. 1 Def.'s Mot. in Limine to Exclude Op. Test. of Mr. Hamlyn (ECF No. 151) ( Def.'s Mot. ). Mr. Kendrick concedes that Mr. Hamlyn may testify about matters within his personal knowledge, such as "gross operating revenues, annual trends, and evidence of a significant loss of gross revenues beginning on a particular date." Id. at 6. However, Mr. Kendrick strenuously argues that Mr. Hamlyn may not testify-either as a lay or expert witness-about why donors did not donate because such testimony would be based on inadmissible hearsay. Id. at 2-8. He further maintains that Mr. Hamlyn may not testify as a supposed expert that HWH lost donations due to Mr. Kendrick's alleged defamation. Id. at 8-12. More specifically, Mr. Kendrick contends that Mr. Hamlyn's likely testimony about "reach extenders" and "comparative revenue analysis" does not meet the necessary standards for scientific reliability. Id. In addition, he asserts that Mr. Hamlyn's comparative analysis opinions were not timely disclosed by the Plaintiffs. Id. at 12-14. Finally, Mr. Kendrick argues that Mr. Hamlyn lacks the necessary credentials to testify as a financial damages expert. Id. at 14.

B. HWH and Mr. Geilenfeld's Responses

On April 21, 2014, HWH and Michael Geilenfeld responded to Mr. Kendrick's motion in limine, dismissing all of Mr. Kendrick's arguments as being "without merit on all points."[1] Pls.' Opp'n to Def.'s Mot. in Limine at 1 (ECF No. 183) ( Pls.' Opp'n ). After reviewing the standards for the admissibility of expert testimony, the Plaintiffs first respond to Mr. Kendrick's attack on Mr. Hamlyn's qualifications by arguing that Mr. Hamlyn has "relevant experience in the fields of nonprofit fundraising, budgeting, marketing, and donor outreach and donor database management, from 2002 to the present." Id. at 4. The Plaintiffs dispute Mr. Kendrick's contention that Mr. Hamlyn's knowledge of why the donors reduced or stopped their donations is based on hearsay, and contend instead that his knowledge is based on a logical inference from circumstantial evidence. Id. at 5-7. The Plaintiffs also contend that Mr. Hamlyn's comparative analysis of HWH's revenue is based on publicly available financial data, allowing him to test HWH's fundraising after Mr. Kendrick's allegedly defamatory comments. Id. at 7-9. Finally, the Plaintiffs focus on the impact Mr. Kendrick's comments had on HWH's ability to raise funds in the Boston area. Id. at 9-11.

II. GEOFFREY SCOTT HAMLYN'S QUALIFICATIONS AND OPINIONS

A. Qualifications

Mr. Hamlyn graduated magna cum laude from The University of Texas at Austin in 2006 with a bachelor's degree in music and from The Juilliard School in 2008 as a master of music, specifically in viola performance. Def.'s Mot. to Seal Attach. 4 at 10 (ECF No. 151) ( Hamlyn Curriculum Vitae ).

Mr. Hamlyn's practical experience in the fundraising world began in 2008-09 while studying at The Julliard School. Id. He worked as a paid intern in the field of arts administration. Id. In 2010, Mr. Hamlyn worked as a paid intern for Changing Our World, Inc. in fundraising. Id. His curriculum vitae (CV) states that he gained "fundraising and client interaction experience through engagements including Abilities!, The National Peace Corps Association, and The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, & Malaria." Id. Also in 2010, he joined Cultures in Harmony as the Operations Manager. Id. His CV describes "Cultures in Harmony" as "an international cultural diplomacy 501c3 nonprofit" and states that he was involved in "oversight over fundraising, grantwriting, international travel, concert planning, personnel, budgeting, reporting, donor acknowledgement, & strategic planning." Id. During the same time, he worked for Changing Our World, Inc. as Associate Director, Fundraising. Id. His CV describes "Changing Our World" as "a major international philanthropic services consulting firm" and indicates that he was involved in "project management, budget development, strategic planning, campaign development, donor research, donor solicitation, case development, event management, contract development, measurement and evaluation, the creation of marketing materials, and general counsel." Id.

Finally, in 2011, he began working as the Executive Director of HWH, which his CV describes as "a 501c3 nonprofit with a mission to support street children, the disabled, and the disadvantaged in Haiti." Id. His CV indicates that as Executive Director, he has "oversight over operations including, but not limited to fiscal management, board governance, fundraising, strategic planning, ...


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