Does an Email Suffice as an Expert Witness Disclosure?

In a maritime negligence action, a plaintiff passenger appealed the district court’s order striking her expert witnesses.

Plaintiff was a passenger on a cruise ship. While aboard, she went to an upper deck to get some ice cream. There was a video camera that captured the incident that gave rise to the suit.

As Plaintiff walked toward the ice cream machine, she encountered a crewman. The crewman began to open two small metal swinging doors at the top of the ice cream machine—both at eye level. As the crewman began to open the doors, he paused when he saw the Plaintiff, and he physically pointed at the doors. Then, another passenger tapped Plaintiff on the shoulder and likewise pointed to the doors. Plaintiff grasped one of the opening doors in unison with the crewman and assisted him in opening the door.

Plaintiff then bent under the open doors and got some ice cream from the container below. With her ice cream in hand, she walked away from the ice cream machine. As she walked toward the stairs to the side of the ice cream machine, she struck one of the open doors’ corners with her head, allegedly causing injury.

In this case, the district court’s scheduling order required expert disclosures by February 8, 2017. On that day, Plaintiff sent an email purporting to be an expert witness disclosure.

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