Commercial Litigation and Arbitration

Hedonic Damages, Daubert and the Province of the Jury

From Martinez v. Caterpillar, Inc., 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 97414 (D.N.M. Sept. 6, 2007):

While New Mexico permits the recovery of hedonic damages, expert testimony attempting to quantify such damages invades the fact finder's domain. See Romero v. Byers, 117 N.M. 422, 428, 872 P.2d 840, 846 (1994); Couch v. Astec Industries, Inc., 2002 NMCA 84, 132 N.M. 631, 636, 53 P.3d 398, 403 (Ct. App. 2002). [The plaintiff’s proffered expert’s] proposed testimony would do nothing to assist the jury as the jurors themselves are fully capable of determining the value to be placed on the enjoyment of life. Moreover, this Court is persuaded by the weight of authority that rejects such expert testimony as unreliable, untestable and failing to meet the requirement of general acceptability. See, e.g., Smith v. Ingersoll-Rand Co., 214 F.3d 1235, 1244-45 (10th Cir. 2000); Sullivan v. United States Gypsum Co., 862 F.Supp. 317, 320 (D.Kan. 1994). The Court therefore adopts the arguments and authorities propounded by Defendant Caterpillar, Inc. and rejects the admission of opinion testimony concerning hedonic damages.

Testimony excluded under Federal Rule of Evidence 702 because “[t]his type of expert opinion testimony invades the province of the jury and fails to meet the criteria for admission as expert testimony as set forth in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579, 113 S. Ct. 2786, 125 L. Ed. 2d 469 (1993).

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