United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
TIMOTHY S. HILLMAN DISTRICT JUDGE
Pike (“J. Pike”) sexually assaulted his
granddaughter, Plaintiff Jane Doe, multiple times between
2007 and 2010. Jane Doe sued J. Pike for those assaults in
this Court. Default judgment was entered against J. Pike and
Jane Doe was awarded damages. Jane Doe, by and through her
friend, Kim Pike (“Plaintiff”) now brings claims
for negligent supervision (Count I) and negligent infliction
of emotional distress (Count II) against her grandmother,
Barbara Pike (“B. Pike” or
“Defendant”). The gravamen of Plaintiff’s
claim is that B. Pike either was, or should have been, aware
of J. Pike’s abusive behavior, and should have taken
steps to prevent it. B. Pike has filed a Third-Party
Complaint against Kim Pike and Brian McCormick, Jane
Doe’s parents, alleging claims for contribution.
has provided Plaintiff with a report by a Dr. Renee
Sorrentino (“Dr. Sorrentino”) which includes
“an expert opinion regarding [J. Pike’s] behavior
toward his granddaughter … and whether [B. Pike] had
any knowledge about her husband’s sexual offending
behavior.” Plaintiff moves to exclude Dr.
Sorrentino’s report and testimony for violations of
Federal Rules of Evidence 702 and 403. B. Pike has filed a
motion for summary judgment contending that she is entitled
to judgment on Plaintiff’s claims as a matter of law
because she did not owe Jane Doe a duty of reasonable care.
B.Pike has also filed a motion to strike portions of the
Plaintiff/Third Party Defendants’ statement of facts.
Order addresses Plaintiff’s Motion To Exclude The
Expert Testimony Of Dr. Renee Sorrentino (Docket No. 46) and
Defendant, Barbara Pike’s Motion To Strike Portions of
Plaintiff and Third-Party Defendants’ Local Rule 56.1
Statement (Docket No. 72). For the reasons set forth below,
Plaintiff’s motion to exclude expert testimony is
granted, in part, and denied, in part. As
to some issues, the Court will reserve ruling until trial.
The motion to strike, which was filed under
seal, is denied for the reasons set
forth in the Plaintiff’s opposition, which I find
persuasive. The Court will apply these rulings when
considering the motion for summary judgment, which remains
“[T]he 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,
113 S.Ct. 2786 (1993) (internal quotation marks omitted).
“A district court enjoys substantial discretion to
decide whether to admit or exclude relevant expert
testimony.” Pages-Ramirez v. Ramirez-Gonzalez,
605 F.3d 109, 115 (1st Cir. 2010) (internal
citations and quotation marks omitted). In deciding whether
to admit expert testimony, the court must consider
1) whether or not the proposed expert is qualified by
knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education; 2) if
the proposed subject matter of the expert opinion properly
concerns scientific, technical, or other specialized
knowledge; and 3) whether the testimony is helpful to the
trier of fact, i.e., whether it rests on a reliable
foundation and is relevant to the facts of the case.
Bogosian v. Mercedes-Benz of N. Am., Inc., 104 F.3d
472, 476 (1st Cir. 1997) (internal citations and quotation
The fundamental question that a court must answer in
determining whether a proposed expert’s testimony will
assist the trier of fact is whether the untrained layman
would be qualified to determine intelligently and to the best
degree, the particular issue without enlightenment from those
having a specialized understanding of the subject matter
United States v. Shay, 57 F.3d 126, 132
(1st Cir. 1995) (internal citations and quotation
even if it passes the requirements of Rule 702, remains
subject to Rule 403’s balancing test.” United
States v. Tetioukhine, 725 F.3d 1, 6 (1st Cir. 2013).
See also United States v.
Rodriguez-Estrada, 877 F.2d 153, 155 (1st
Cir. 1989) (“If the evidence brings … unfair
prejudice or a cognizable risk of confusing the jury, and
[the risk] substantially overbalances any probative value,
then the evidence must be excluded.”). Because experts
can easily sway juror’s opinions, courts must be
especially vigilant in preventing expert testimony from
“intrud[ing] into areas that jurors … are
uniquely competent to judge.” United States v.
Pires, 642 F.3d 1, 12 (1st Cir. 2011);
See also Daubert, 509 U.S. at 595, 113 S.Ct. 2786
(“[e]xpert evidence can be both powerful and quite
misleading”). “Evidence is generally deemed
unfairly prejudicial if it has an undue tendency to prompt a
decision by the factfinder on an improper basis.”
United States v. Benedetti, 433 F.3d 111, 118
(1st Cir. 2005).
expert report (“Report”) prepared by Dr.
Sorrentino is approximately thirty-one (31) pages long. The
first five pages summarize Dr. Sorrentino’s
qualifications, the purpose of the Report, and the sources
used to prepare the Report. The next seven pages summarize
Dr. Sorrentino’s individual interviews with J. Pike and
B. Pike, followed by a fifteen page “summary of
records, ” containing information drawn from police
records, disclosure documents, and prior depositions. The
last six pages describe Dr. Sorrentino’s answers to
four questions posed by B. Pike’s counsel, and her
rationale for those answers. The Report concludes with a
bibliography, and three attached exhibits: Dr.