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Maine Windjammers, Inc. v. Sea3, LLC

United States District Court, D. Maine

November 8, 2019

MAINE WINDJAMMERS, INC., Plaintiff
v.
SEA3, LLC, et al., Defendants

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION IN LIMINE TO EXCLUDE PATRICK DRISCOLL FROM OPINING REGARDING MARINE ELECTRICAL SYSTEMS STANDARDS

          JOHN H. RICH III UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         In this maritime breach of contract action, the defendants, Sea3, LLC, Robert H. Larsen, and Stephen Taylor (together, “Sea3”), seek exclude Patrick Driscoll, an owner of plaintiff Maine Windjammers (“Windjammers”) and a licensed commercial electrician, from rendering an opinion regarding marine electrical system standards that may apply to the S/V Halie & Matthew (the “Vessel”). See Motion in Limine To Exclude Patrick Driscoll from Opining Regarding Marine Electrical Systems Standards (“Motion”) (ECF No. 51) at 1-2. Because I find that Mr. Driscoll is sufficiently qualified, I deny the Motion.

         I. Applicable Legal Standard

         Federal Rule of Evidence 702 provides:

A witness who is qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education may testify in the form of an opinion or otherwise if:
(a) the expert's scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will help the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue;
(b) the testimony is based on sufficient facts or data;
(c) the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods; and
(d) the expert has reliably applied the principles and methods to the facts of the case.

Fed. R. Evid. 702.

         “In applying Rule 702, the district court serves as the gatekeeper for expert testimony by ‘ensuring that [it] . . . both rests on a reliable foundation and is relevant to the task at hand.'” Milward v. Rust-Oleum Corp., 820 F.3d 469, 473 (1st Cir. 2016) (quoting Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharm., 509 U.S. 579, 597 (1993)). “In carrying out this responsibility, the trial court must bear in mind that an expert with appropriate credentials and an appropriate foundation for the opinion at issue must be permitted to present testimony as long as the testimony has a ‘tendency to make the existence of any fact that is of consequence to the determination of the action more probable or less probable than it would be without the evidence.'” Pagés-Ramírez v. Ramírez-González, 605 F.3d 109, 115 (1st Cir. 2010) (quoting Fed.R.Evid. 401).[1] “A district court enjoys substantial discretion to decide whether to admit or exclude relevant expert testimony.” Id. (citation and internal quotation marks omitted).

         II. Factual Background

         In the spring of 2017, Windjammers and Sea3, LLC, entered into an agreement that Sea3, LLC, would lease the Vessel with an option to purchase her. Plaintiff's Opposition to Defendants' Motion in Limine To Exclude Patrick Driscoll from Opining Regarding Marine Electrical Systems Standards (“Opposition”) (ECF No. 54) at 2. The agreement was memorialized in the Vessel Lease and Option to Purchase (the “Contract”), signed by representatives of both parties on March 17, 2017. Amended Complaint (ECF No. 13) ¶ 7; Contract, Exh. A (ECF No. 13-1) thereto.

         Sea3 took possession of the Vessel in March 2017 and made significant changes to her. Amended Complaint ¶¶ 12-13. Windjammers alleges that Sea3 abandoned the Vessel in disrepair in September 2017, after failing to complete required repairs and improvements and cure a payment default. Id. ¶¶ 14-17. Sea3, on the other hand, contends that the Vessel was delivered to Sea3 in an unseaworthy state, causing Sea3 to incur costs of improvements and repairs. Defendants/Counterclaim Plaintiffs Sea 3, LLC's, Robert H. Larsen, Jr.'s, and Stephen Taylor's Answer, Affirmative Defenses and Amended Counterclaims (“Answer”) (ECF No. 38) ¶ 32; Amended Counterclaims, commencing at page 13 of Answer, ¶¶ 40-41. Windjammers sues Sea3 for breach of contract, promissory estoppel, unjust enrichment, and damage to the Vessel during custody. Amended Complaint ¶¶ 21-53. Sea3, LLC, brings a counterclaim against Windjammers for misrepresentation, fraud in the inducement, breach of ...


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