Preventive Medicine Expert Witness' Testimony on the Air Quality Admitted

Preventive Medicine Expert Witness’ Testimony on the Air Quality Admitted

A district judge in Kentucky found the testimony of preventive medicine expert reliable while ruling on the Plaintiffs’ state law tort claims.

Plaintiffs Mark and Deborah Brackett (the “Bracketts”) and Doug Coomer (“Coomer”) (collectively “Plaintiffs”) own properties in Clementsville, Kentucky. Defendant Columbia Gulf Transmission, LLC own a natural gas compressor station (the “Compressor Station”) adjacent to Plaintiffs’ properties.

Plaintiffs alleged that since early September 2019, the Compressor Station has been emitting intolerable noise like “jet engines taking off” and exhaust odors that make breathing painful and cause headaches, and because of those conditions they have been distressed and unable to enjoy their properties.

Plaintiffs’ state law tort claims are also based on the odors and pollutants allegedly emanating from the Compressor Station. They have disclosed Dr. Erin Haynes (“Dr. Haynes”) as an expert who has analyzed air quality data collected by a monitor inside the Bracketts’ home from April 2022 to October 2022. Defendants sought to exclude Haynes’ testimony based on lack of compliance with Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(a)(2)(B), relevance, and reliability.

Preventive Medicine Expert Witness

Erin N. Haynes, DrPH, MS is the Kurt W. Deuschle Professor of Preventive Medicine and Environmental Health and Chair of the Department of Epidemiology and Environmental Health. She is a community-engaged environmental health scientist who has forged multidisciplinary research teams to investigate community-identified exposure issues. Her research expertise is pediatric manganese exposure but is also working to address community concerns about potential exposures related to oil and gas, hazardous waste incineration, and landfills. 

Haynes received a Master of Science in Toxicology from the University of Cincinnati and a Doctorate in Public Health in Environmental Health Science from the University of Michigan School of Public Health.

Get the full story on challenges to Erin Haynes’ expert opinions and testimony with an in-depth Challenge Study. 

Discussion by the Court

Rule 26

Defendants contended that Haynes’ testimony should be excluded because her report did not include a list of cases in which she has testified in the last four years nor her compensation for this case. Plaintiffs admitted that Haynes’ report did not contain statements about prior testimony or compensation, but they explained that they did not include them because Haynes has not testified in the past four years and she will not be compensated for her testimony in this case.

Plaintiffs explained that they did not disclose that Haynes has not testified in the past four years and that she is not being compensated because there was no need to disclose information that did not exist.

The Court held that this choice was understandable and did not prejudice Defendants.


To begin with, Haynes’ report explained that the Bracketts installed an air quality monitor in their home, which summarized the air quality data, listed the detected levels of volatile organic compounds (“VOCs”), and noted which levels “exceeded the level of concern.”

Haynes determined that the VOC levels “would have likely been detected by the human nose/smell” and that they “could also result in headache, dizziness, and eye, nose, and throat irritation.”

Defendants argued that Haynes’ testimony should be excluded because VOCs can be caused by many items, including household products and appliances, so Haynes’ testimony is not helpful to the jury because it does not explain the origin of the VOCs inside the Bracketts’ home. The Court held that Defendants’ argument challenged the weight of Haynes’ testimony rather than its relevance. Haynes’ testimony will explain and analyze the air quality in the Bracketts’ home, which indisputably relates to their pollution and odor claims. The Court held that just because her testimony may not prove other aspects of Plaintiffs’ claims, it does not constitute a valid basis to exclude it as irrelevant.


Defendants attacked Haynes’ methodology by noting that she did not visit the Compressor Station or Plaintiffs’ properties, set up the air quality monitor, or collect the data. The Court held that none of these concerns require exclusion.

Moreover, Defendants contended that Haynes’ reliance on the air quality monitor was inappropriate because she did not appear to be familiar with it, whether it is accurate, or whether the Bracketts operated it properly. Haynes’ report, however, explained what the monitor was, how it measured VOCs, and where the Bracketts installed it.


The Court denied  Defendants’ motion to exclude Plaintiffs’ Expert Erin Haynes.

Key Takeaway:

Because Haynes’ report adequately explained what the air quality monitor was, how it measured VOCs, and where the Bracketts installed it, the Court found that the expert report was sufficiently reliable. Also, it was relevant as far as the air quality in the Bracketts’ home was concerned.

Case Details:

Case Caption: Brackett v. Columbia Gulf Transmission, LLC
Docket Number:1:20cv168
Court:United States District Court, Kentucky Western
Order Date:June 27, 2024


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