(Please note: the names and locations of all parties have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the participants in this sexual harassment/personal injury case and its proceedings.)
SUMMARY OF FACTS
Plaintiff was falsely accused of sexually harassing defendant Tamara Black. Defendants’ investigations into these allegations were incredibly sloppy and shoddy, and not in compliance with their own policies. Defendants, through their expert witness disclosure, have declared that Hall would offer testimony on the following subjects:
It is anticipated that Ms. Hall will offer testimony relating to human resource matters, including but not limited to, the prevention of discrimination and harassment, and responding to complaints of discrimination and harassment, effective investigation procedures generally and particularly as the apply to the investigations done in this case. Ms. Hall will be asked to review any opinions offered by Plaintiff’s expert and offer her own opinions in rebuttal.
A. Ms. Hall’s Testimony Should Be Excluded To The Extent It Consists of Improper Legal Conclusions, Usurping The Function of The Trier of Fact To Determine The Reasonableness of Defendants’ Conduct
Expert opinion testimony is inadmissible when it involves the manner in which the law should apply to a particular set of facts and includes a legal conclusion based upon the analysis. (See Summers v. A.L. Gilbert Co. (1999) 69 Cal.App.4th 1155, 1179.) Even if the expert’s opinion does not address a question of law, it is not appropriate if it invades the province of the jury to decide a case. An expert opinion is supposed to help the jury in doing its work, not usurp the function of the jury. (Id. at 1183.) Expert opinion about the significance of evidence does not assist the jury but instead creates an unacceptable risk that a jury would pay unwarranted deference to the expert’s expertise who, in reality, may be in no better position than the jury to evaluate the evidence. (Kotla v. Regents of the Univ. Of California (2004) 115 Cal.App.4th 283, 293.) When opinions are nothing more than an attempt to direct the jury to the ultimate conclusion that the expert wants them to reach, such opinions are inadmissible, as the opinion amount to advocacy not testimony. (Summers, 69 Cal.App.4th at 1185.)
Ms. Hall’s testimony should be excluded to the extent it will supplant the function of the trier of fact. She should not be allowed to provide the jury with her opinion regarding the reasonableness of Defendants’ specific conduct.
B. Allowing Hall to Offer Her Improper Legal Conclusions Would Unduly Prejudice Plaintiff While Wasting The Time And Resources of The Court, The Parties And The Jury So Hall’s Testimony Should Be Excluded Under Evidence Code Section 352 Because Such Evidence Is Substantially More Prejudicial than Probative
Testimony from Defendants’ designated human resources expert also should be excluded because such evidence would be substantially more prejudicial to Plaintiff than it would probative of the issues in the case. Evidence is properly excluded under Evidence Code section 352 when such evidence would be substantially outweighed by the probability that its admission will (a) necessitate undue consumption of time or (b) create substantial danger of undue prejudice, of confusing the issues, or of misleading the jury.
Here, Hall’s testimony would be to merely offer her opinion as to the appropriate legal conclusion of the issues presented, usurping the role of the jury, and not assisting the jury in its function. Hall’s testimony, therefore, should be excluded.
For the foregoing reasons, Plaintiff respectfully moves the Court for an order excluding the testimony of Defendants’ human resources expert, Tina Hall.
For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.