Class Racing Stables, LLC v. Breeders' Cup Limited
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER: (1) GRANTING dft's 74 MOTION to Exclude Class Racing's opinion witnesses Thomas Clark & Steve Pollack; (2) GRANTING dft's 75 MOTION for Summary Judgment; (3) pla's negligence claims against dft in Count I is DISMISSED with prejudice. Signed by Judge Danny C. Reeves on 3/27/18.(KJR)cc: COR
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF KENTUCKY
CLASS RACING STABLE, LLC,
BREEDERS’ CUP, LIMITED,
Civil Action No. 5: 16-200-DCR
This matter is pending for consideration of Defendant Breeders’ Cup, Limited’s
(“Breeders’ Cup”) motion to exclude Plaintiff Class Racing Stable, LLC’s (“Class Racing”)
expert witnesses [Record No. 74] and motion for summary judgment [Record No. 75]. The
defendant’s motions will be granted for the reasons outlined below.
As the Court has discussed previously, this case arises out of events surrounding the
2015 Breeders’ Cup. Class Racing brought suit against Breeders’ Cup in the Fayette Circuit
Court under various theories of negligence, detrimental reliance, and misrepresentation.
[Record No. 1-1] The action was later removed to this Court. [Record No. 1] Class Racing’s
misrepresentation and construed promissory estoppel claims were dismissed on February 10,
2017. [Record No. 9] As a result, Class Racing was limited to a negligence claim for damages
for the amount that Holy Lute’s value would have increased had he simply run in the Turf
Sprint. Id. at p. 4-5.
Breeders’ Cup filed the present motions, alleging that Class Racing’s proposed expert
witnesses, Thomas Clark and Steve Pollack, should be excluded.
[Record No. 74]
Additionally, it contends that summary judgment is appropriate because Class Racing cannot
prove with reasonable certainty that damages resulted from its alleged negligence. [Record
Any challenge to expert testimony must begin with Rule 702 of the Federal Rules of
Evidence which was modified in December 2000 to reflect the Supreme Court’s holdings in
Daubert1 and Kumho Tire.2 Rule 702 states:
A 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 methods; and
(d) the expert has reliably applied the principles and methods to the facts of the
Fed. R. Evid. 702.
Thus, for an expert’s opinion to be admissible, it must satisfy three requirements.
“First, the witness must be qualified by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education.
Second, the testimony must be relevant, meaning that it will assist the trier of fact to understand
the evidence or to determine a fact in issue. Third, the testimony must be reliable.” In re Scrap
Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharm., Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993).
Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137 (1999).
Metal Antitrust Litigation, 527 F.3d 517, 529-30 (6th Cir. 2006). When a party’s expert
witness is challenged, the Court assumes the role of a gatekeeper to determine whether the
proposed testimony may be presented to the fact-finder. Daubert, 509 U.S. at 587; see also In
re Scrap Metal, 527 F.3d at 528 (noting that “[i]n Daubert the Court charged trial judges with
the responsibility of acting as gatekeepers to exclude unreliable expert testimony, and the
Court in Kumho clarified that this gatekeeper function applies to all expert testimony, not just
testimony based on science.’)
The Court need not hold a Daubert hearing to determine the admissibility of expert
testimony. However, it must ensure that the disputed testimony is both relevant and reliable.
See Nelson v. Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co., 243 F.3d 244, 249 (6th Cir. 2001); Clay v. Ford
Motor Co., 215 F.3d 663, 667 (6th Cir. 2000). In this case, the issue regarding the admissibility
of the plaintiff’s proposed expert testimony has been fully briefed by the parties. The record
is sufficient to enable the Court to perform its role under Daubert and a hearing would not be
helpful in exercising that duty.
In addressing the pending motion for summary judgment, the Court must determine
whether there are genuine disputes regarding any material facts and if the movant is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a); see Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317,
322–23 (1986); Chao v. Hall Holding Co., 285 F.3d 415, 424 (6th Cir. 2002). A dispute over
a material fact is not “genuine” unless a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the
nonmoving party. That is, the determination must be “whether the evidence presents a
sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one
party must prevail as a matter of law.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251–
52 (1986); see Harrison v. Ash, 539 F.3d 510, 516 (6th Cir. 2008).
A party moving for summary judgment bears the burden of demonstrating conclusively
that no genuine issue of material fact exists. CenTra, Inc. v. Estrin, 538 F.3d 402, 412 (6th
Cir. 2008). Once that burden has been met, the nonmoving party must come forward with
significant probative evidence to defeat a properly supported motion for summary judgment.
Chao v. Hall Holding Co., 285 F.3d 415, 424 (6th Cir. 2002). In deciding whether to grant
summary judgment, the Court views all the facts and inferences drawn from the evidence in
the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio
Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986).
Motion to Exclude Experts
The defendant’s motion to exclude Class Racing’s experts is based largely on the
Court’s prior determination that “[t]here is simply no evidence that could be presented to this
Court or to a jury that would permit a finding that Holy Lute or any other horse would have
finished in the top five.” [Record No. 9, p. 4] The Court reasoned that damages based on that
assumption are “remote, uncertain and speculative and, thus, not recoverable.” Id. (citing
Schork v. Huber, 648 S.W.2d 861, 863 (Ky. 1983)). The only damages question that remains
in this case is would the horses value have increased by simply running in the Turf Sprint.
“This category of damages does not depend upon a finding that Holy Lute would finish in the
top five. Instead, it depends upon evidence that a horse’s value increases simply as a result of
having run in a particular race.” Id. at p. 5.
As with all evidence, the threshold issue for admissibility of expert testimony is
relevance. See Rules 401 and 402 of the Federal Rules of Evidence. Expert testimony is
relevant under Rule 702 and Daubert if it will assist the trier of fact to better understand the
evidence or to decide a material fact in issue. See In re Scrap Metal, 527 F.3d at 529 (citing
Rule 702 of the Federal Rules of Evidence).
Breeders’ Cup contends that Thomas Clark’s report and testimony must be excluded
because he offers an opinion as to Holy Lute’s value based solely on the assumption that Holy
Lute would have won the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint. Class Racing does not dispute that
Clark’s opinion is based, in part, upon the contingency that Holy Lute would have won the
race. [Record No. 78, p. 10] It argues, however, that the remainder of his report is nonetheless
valid and the Court should allow him to present his testimony. Id. But the entire report and
conclusion regarding the valuation of Holy Lute is based on the hypothetical of Holy Lute
winning the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint. See Record No. 74-9, pp. 14-15. Nowhere in
the report does he provide any opinion regarding an increase in value of Holy Lute simply by
running in the race. The entire report is based on an assumption that will not be presented to
the jury (i.e., the value of Holy Lute had he won the race) and will not assist the trier of fact to
better understand the evidence or decide whether Holy Lute’s value have increased by simply
running in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint.
The defendant also argues that Part 3 of Class Racing’s expert Steve Pollack’s report
and testimony should be excluded because he offers an opinion on Holy Lute’s hypothetical
finishing position. Rather than respond to this argument, Class Racing contends that the report
is not limited to that specific opinion, and asserts that other parts of the report are relevant to
the issue of negligence.3 But as discussed above, any opinion of the hypothetical finishing
“[W]hen a plaintiff files an opposition to a dispositive motion and addresses only certain
arguments raised by the defendant, a court may treat those arguments that the plaintiff failed
position of Holy Lute is not relevant to the issue presented in this case. As a result, Part 3 of
Pollack’s report will be excluded.
Negligence requires proof of: (i) a duty owed by the defendant to the plaintiff; (ii)
breach of the duty; (iii) injury to the plaintiff and (iv) legal causation between the defendant’s
breach and the plaintiff’s injury. Wright v. House of Imports, Inc., 381 S.W.3d 209, 213 (Ky.
2012). “If it is established with reasonable certainty that damage has resulted from a breach
of duty . . . mere uncertainty as to the amount will not preclude recovery….” Roadway Exp.,
Inc. v. Don Stohlman & Associates, Inc., 436 S.W.2d 63, 68 (Ky. 1968). Breeders’ Cup
contends that it is entitled to summary judgment on Class Racing’s negligence claim because
Class Racing is unable to prove any damages as a result of the alleged negligence to a
reasonable certainty. The defendant argues that expert testimony is required to prove the issue
of damages in this case.
The plaintiff relies heavily on the argument that expert testimony is not necessary
because “[t]here can be no reasonable doubt that the horse would have been more valuable had
he run in this race.” It relies heavily on Curry v. Bennett, 301 S.W.3d 502 (Ky. Ct. App. 2009),
for this proposition. In Curry, the Court of Appeals of Kentucky found that the evidence
supported the finding that a show horse’s value was diminished because the plaintiff was
unable to enter the horse in several competitions. Id. at 506. Specifically, the court noted that
the plaintiff “presented evidence that other foals by Undulata's Nutcracker had regularly won
to address as conceded.” Cunningham v. Tennessee Cancer Specialists, PLLC, 957 F.Supp.2d
899, 921 (quoting Rouse v. Caruso, No. 06-CV-10961-DT, 2011 WL 918327, at *18 (E.D.
Mich. Feb. 18, 2011)).
the Futurity competition. He also presented evidence showing the value of horses with
comparable lineages.” Id. at 506-07.
Unlike in Curry, Class Racing has failed to identify admissible evidence that would
support the claim that Holy Lute would have been more valuable had he run in the race.
Instead, the only evidence offered was testimony from Clark, who offered the opinion that if
Holy Lute had won the race, his value would have increased. As discussed above, however,
this proposed testimony is not admissible regarding the issue remaining in this case. Further,
Class Racing contends that the idea that a racehorse is more valuable if it had run in a Breeders’
Cup race is one that is not hard to understand by a lay juror and, therefore, expert testimony is
not required. [Record No. 78, p. 7] But in the very next sentence it argues that the value of a
racehorse can never be scientifically appraised down to the penny, and that the value of a horse
“fluctuates due to many factors, including its success at the track or the breading shed.” Id.
Additionally, Class Racing argues that any juror can simply look at the Beyer speed
numbers, and understand that a higher number indicates a faster speed than a lower number,
and use that information to determine that Holy Lute’s value would have increased if he would
have simply run in the race. Id. Once again, however, the question of how Holy Lute would
have performed in the race is of no consequence to the horse’s value had he simply run in the
race. While jurors are capable of determining some complex issues from the evidence and
their common knowledge and experience, see Reece v. Nationwide Mut. Inc. Co., 217 S.w.3d
226, 230-31 (Ky. 2007), the value of a race horse, which according to Class Racing “fluctuates
due to many factors, including its success at the track or the breading shed,” is not one of those
As the plaintiff noted, the value which its own expert placed on Holy Lute, was “based
on his decades of experience in the horse business.” [Record No. 78, p. 8] The knowledge
and experience to value a thoroughbred race horse, and more specifically to find that a race
horse can be more valuable simply by running in one specific race, with no regard to how the
horse finishes in that race, is outside the common knowledge and experience of a lay juror.
In short, Class Racing fails to present admissible evidence that could be utilized by a
jury to prove to damages under Kentucky law. As a result, the defendant’s motion for summary
judgment is appropriate and will be granted.
Based on the foregoing discussion and analysis, it is hereby
ORDERED as follows:
The defendant’s motion to exclude experts witnesses [Record No. 74] is
The defendant’s motion for summary judgment [Record No. 75] is GRANTED.
Plaintiff Class Racing’s negligence claim against Breeders’ Cup in Count I is
DISMISSED, with prejudice.
This 27th day of March, 2018.
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