Court Precludes Some But Not All Testimony of Naval Expert

VIRGINIA — Following up with a prior ACT post on the Harry Goodrich matter pending in the United States District Court, E.D., Virginia, the Court has issued an omnibus opinion concerning motions in limine.

Among other issues decided, the court addressed the plaintiffs’ motion to limit the testimony of defendants’ naval expert, Margaret McCloskey (McCloskey). Pursuant to Rule 702, the plaintiffs sought to limit the testimony of McCloskey in four (4) respects: (i) as unqualified to opine about plaintiffs actual exposure to asbestos-containing thermal insulation or amosite while serving in the U.S. Navy; (ii) lacks factual basis for opining that the ships that plaintiff served on contained amosite thermal insulation; (iii) should be precluded from using photographs and/or videotapes of Navy vessels and insinuating that the insulation contains asbestos, amosite, etc.; and (iv) should be precluded from presenting speculative estimates of the tonnage of asbestos insulation, amosite, etc. onboard the ships plaintiff served on. The plaintiffs did not generally challenge McCloskey’s expertise and specialized knowledge stemming from her education background and 27 year naval career.

Upon review of plaintiffs arguments, the court took into consideration McCloskey’s education background and experience and noted McCloskey stated her experience “spans the operation, maintenance, repair, modernization, and construction of all classes of steam and nuclear[-]powered ships and submarines.” McCloskey further asserted familiarity with “plans, designs, specifications, manuals, qualified products lists, departure reports, and other documents used in the construction and repair of [U.S.] Navy … ships” and with “rate training manuals and correspondence course textbooks.” Here, the court found sufficient factual basis existed for McCloskey to testify about the presence of thermal insulation, lagging, and other products containing asbestos, including amosite asbestos, onboard the ships upon which the plaintiff served.  However, the court also found that insufficient facts and data existed to allow McCloskey’s testimony to characterize and/or opine about the quantities and/or tonnage of the asbestos-containing thermal insulation (amosite), onboard when Goodrich served, and she is not qualified to testify about the plaintiff’s actual exposure to the same.

On the issue the admissibility of photographs and videotapes of insulation in conjunction with McCloskey’s testimony, the court punted and advised that issue will be addressed at the final pre-trial conference or at trial.

Thus, the plaintiff’s motion in limine to preclude testimony of Margaret McCloskey was GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.

Read the full case decision here.