United States District Court, D. Maryland
L. HOLLANDER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Hunt Valley Baptist Church, Inc. (“HVBC” or the
“Church”) filed suit against Baltimore County and
the Board of Appeals of Baltimore County (the
“Board”), alleging, inter alia,
violations of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized
Persons Act of 2000 (“RLUIPA”), 42 U.S.C.
§§ 2000cc et seq.; the Free Exercise
Clause of the First Amendment; the Equal Protection Clause of
the Fourteenth Amendment; and Article 36 of the Maryland
Declaration of Rights. ECF 1 (“Complaint”).
case is rooted in a zoning dispute. HVBC sought to obtain a
special exception from the Board to build a church on 16.6
acres of land in Cockeysville, Maryland. See ECF 21
at 4-18. However, the Board rejected the Church's
application. Id. at 15-17; see also ECF 8-2
at 131-144. This litigation followed.
this Court's ruling (ECF 17) with respect to
defendants' motion to dismiss (ECF 8), the Court issued a
Scheduling Order. ECF 27. The parties are now engaged in
discovery, pursuant to the Scheduling Order of December 7,
11, 2018, defendants filed an “Objection To
Plaintiff's Expert Designations, Request For Hearing, And
Request For Extension To Designate Defendants'
Experts” (ECF 46), along with a supporting memorandum
of law (ECF 46-1) (collectively, the “Motion”),
and exhibits. See ECF 46-2 at 1-81. In the Motion,
defendants requested “a Daubert hearing . . .
.” ECF 46 at 1. See Daubert v. Merrell Dow
Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579, 597 (1993).
Moreover, defendants contend, inter alia, that the
testimony of plaintiffs' five proposed experts is not
relevant under rules 401 and 702 of the Federal Rules of
Evidence. ECF 46-1 at 3. Among other things, defendants
insist that the Church “should not be allowed to attack
the Board's decision with evidence that was not presented
to the Board.” Id. at 4. Further, defendants
ask the Court to extend the deadline for their expert
designations until 30 days after the Court has ruled on the
Motion. ECF 46 at 1.
opposes the Motion. See ECF 47
(“Opposition”). The Church argues, inter
alia, that the “issues raised in Defendants'
‘Objections' are not issues appropriate for a
Daubert hearing, but for arguments in dispositive
motions or motions in limine following the
conclusion of discovery.” ECF 47 at 3.
defendants' reply (ECF 48, “Reply”), they
reiterate that the expert “testimony should have [been]
presented to the Board in the first instance, ” at
least as to plaintiff's “as applied
challenge.” ECF 48 at 2. They add that plaintiff's
“attempted use of after-the-fact expert evidence should
not be allowed to make up for Plaintiff's failure to
request conditional approval . . . [or] to seek a variance .
. . .” Id. at 10.
hearing is necessary to resolve the Motion. See
Local Rule 105.6. For the reasons that follow, I shall deny
the Motion (ECF 46), without prejudice to the right of
defendants to renew their objections as to plaintiff's
expert witnesses, at the appropriate time.
to Federal Rule of Evidence 104(a), the court is responsible
for determining “preliminary questions concerning the
qualification of a person to be a witness” and
“the admissibility of evidence, ” including the
admissibility of expert testimony under Federal Rule of
Evidence 702. With regard to expert testimony, it is well
settled that “[t]he party seeking admission of the
expert testimony bears the burden of establishing
admissibility by a preponderance of the evidence.”
Fireman's Fund Ins. Co. v. Tecumseh Prods. Co.,
767 F.Supp.2d 549, 553 (D. Md. 2011); see Daubert,
509 U.S. at 590; Cady v. Ride-Away Handicap Equipment
Corp., 702 Fed. App'x 120, 124-25 (4th Cir. 2017);
Cooper v. Smith & Nephew, Inc., 259 F.3d 194,
199 (4th Cir. 2001); Maryland Casualty Co. v.
Therm-O-Disc., Inc., 137 F.3d 780, 783 (4th Cir. 1998);
Casey v. Geek Squad ® Subsidiary Best Buy Stores,
L.P., 823 F.Supp.2d 334, 340 (D. Md. 2011).
Evid. 702 provides that a properly qualified expert witness
may testify regarding technical, scientific, or other
specialized knowledge in a given field if the testimony would
assist the trier of fact in understanding the evidence or to
determine a fact in issue. The rule “was intended to
liberalize the introduction of relevant expert
evidence.” Westberry v. Gislaved Gummi AB, 178
F.3d 257, 261 (4th Cir. 1999).
702, which governs expert testimony, provides:
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
(d) the expert has reliably applied the principles and
methods to the facts of the case.
Daubert, 509 U.S. at 597, the Supreme Court made
clear that scientific evidence is admissible under Rule 702
if “it rests on a reliable foundation and is
relevant.” The Court explained that expert scientific
testimony must be grounded “in the methods and
procedures of science, ” and it must be something more
than subjective belief or unsupported assumptions.
Id. at 589-90. Moreover, the evidence or testimony
must be relevant to the extent that it will “assist the
trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a
fact in issue.” Id. at 591; see also Nease
v. Ford Motor Co., 848 F.3d 219, 229 (4th Cir. 2017);
United States v. Forrest, 429 F.3d 73, 80-81 (4th
Cir. 2005). In Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael, 526
U.S. 137, 141 (1999), the Supreme Court extended the
principles pertaining to scientific expert testimony to other
expert testimony requiring technical or specialized
Daubert, 509 U.S. at 597, the trial court serves a
“gatekeeping role, ” by making pretrial
determinations “of whether the reasoning or methodology
underlying the testimony is scientifically valid and of
whether that reasoning or methodology properly can be applied
to the facts in issue.” Id. at 592-93. This
gatekeeper role helps to ensure that the expert's
testimony “rests on a reliable foundation and is
relevant to the task at hand.” Id. at 597;
see Lord & Taylor, LLC v. White Flint, L.P., 849
F.3d 567, 577 (4th Cir. 2017).
reliability, Daubert articulated five factors that
the trial court should consider in evaluating the reliability
of an expert's reasoning or methodology: (1) whether the
particular scientific theory has been or can be tested; (2)
whether the theory has been subjected to peer review and
publication; (3) the known or potential rate of error; (4)
whether there are standards controlling the method; and (5)
whether the technique has gained general acceptance in the
relevant scientific community. Daubert, 509 U.S. at
593-94; see United States v. Crisp, 324 F.3d 261,
265-66 (4th Cir. 2003).
whole, the factors are meant to ensure that “an expert,
whether basing his testimony upon professional studies or
personal experience, employs in the courtroom the same level
of intellectual rigor that characterizes the practice of an
expert in the relevant field.” Kumho Tire, 526
U.S. at 152. However, the factors are meant to be
“helpful, not definitive, ” and not all factors
necessarily apply in a given case. Id. at 151;
see Nease, ...