Court Refuses To Bar Report Of Security Expert Witness Having Strong Factual Basis

Security Expert Witness’ Opinions Admitted because of its Strong Factual Basis

A district judge in New Jersey admitted the testimony of the security expert despite the opposing party contending that it was based on his own personal, subjective beliefs.

The present case arises out of Plaintiff, Ebony Thames’ fall from the roof of Bally’s Wild West Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey. On April 6, 2019, Plaintiff, a patron at Defendants’ property, was served alcohol by Bally’s employees. Later that evening, Plaintiff was in a hotel room at the property when a security officer responded to a noise complaint. Upon arrival, the security officer encountered Plaintiff, who ran off down the hallway towards the fire tower. Plaintiff exited an unalarmed door onto the roof of the building then diverted her path from the walkway along the fire escape route where she fell from the third-floor roof of the adjoining building while attempting to climb down the facade. In order to reach the Bally’s ledge where Plaintiff started to climb down the building, Plaintiff needed to traverse barriers that included HVAC piping, two five foot walls, and one nine-foot wall.

After Plaintiff fell several stories to the boardwalk below, she filed this lawsuit on account of severe and permanent injuries sustained as a result.

Defendants filed a motion to bar the opinion and findings of Plaintiff’s security expert witness, Russell Kolins under Federal Rules of Evidence 702 and 703.

Security Expert Witness

Russell Kolins leads the Kolins Security Group, a division of Russell Kolins Associates. He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Security Management and specialized in the defense industry during the first two decades of his practice, undergoing extensive training and education in the fields of Risk Management, Risk Assessments, Premises Liability, Security Inspections, and Civil Liability.

Russell Kolins’ expertise is well-earned. He is a certified trainer in the two nationally accepted responsible alcohol management programs. Russell has been a consultant to some of the largest Nightclub entertainment venues as well as country clubs, resorts and hotel and motel businesses. His skills extend to Facility Physical Security Design and he is a CPTED Practitioner.

Get in-depth insights into Russell Collin’s expert witness experience by requesting his Expert Witness Profile today

Discussion by the Court

Defendants argued that Russell Kolins’ conclusions constituted net opinion based on his subjective opinions regarding the facts of the case. Also, they added that Kolins’ opinions improperly extrapolated from the facts of a prior matter involving the same Defendant, Bally’s, and that his opinions consisted of legal conclusions. In his report, Kolins asserted that Bally’s was obligated to protect people on their property and failed to place a reasonable barrier to detect, delay and ultimately respond to people who were in this unsafe area.

Moreover, Defendants argued that Kolins applied an unreasonably high standard created using his own personal, subjective beliefs to reach his conclusions and created a unreasonable duty of care.

According to the Court, Kolins’ response to a question posing a hypothetical scenario was distinct from his opinion that Defendants had an obligation to protect Plaintiff under the specific circumstances of this case. As Kolins set forth in his Report, the materials he relied on in forming this opinion included information that “Defendant had a history of people being up on and falling off the roof” and “people being on the roof was so prevalent that security was responsible for patrolling this area for customers.” Together, the Court held that this information reasonably explained the factual basis underlying Kolins’ opinion.

The Defendant had previously filed a motion to preclude Plaintiff’s expert report of Russell Kolins arguing that it was nearly two (2) months late in violation of this Court’s Orders and all applicable rules in New Jersey. The Court denied the Defendants’ motion to preclude the untimely expert report submitted by Kolins.


The Court denied the Defendants’ motion to exclude to the opinion of security expert witness, Russell Kolins.

Defendants also filed a motion for summary judgment combined with this motion to bar Kolins’ testimony. Defendants argued that Plaintiff failed to retain an expert in order establish the alleged negligence responsible for the Plaintiffs’ injuries. Court ruled that the expert testimony of Kolins may be admitted to establish general principles for negligence and Defendants’ motion for summary judgment on that issue.

Key Takeaway:

According to Defendants, Kolins drew his conclusions applying an unreasonably high standard created using his own personal, subjective beliefs but the Court found out that Kolins’ conclusions were actually supported by reliable information regarding the Defendants’ security practices and previous incidents.

Case Details:

  Case Caption:Thames v. Bally’s Park Place, LLC
 Docket Number:1:21cv1876
 Court:United States District Court, New Jersey
 Order Date:June 17, 2024


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