C.G. v. Pennsylvania Dept. of Educ., No. 1:06-cv-1523 (M.D. Pa. Aug. 16, 2011)

On August 16, 2011, the Court granted Plaintiff’s motion to exclude the testimony of Dr. Jay Gottlieb pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(a)(2)(B) and Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharm., Inc., 509 U.S. 579, 589 (1993). After hearing testimony from Dr. Gottlieb, the Court determined that while he is an expert in the field of special education, his experience as a member of a local school board did not qualify him to opine on the subject of systemic effects of the Commonwealth’s “census-based” funding model. The Court also found that even if Dr. Gottlieb were qualified as an expert on the issue of school funding, his report did not satisfy Daubert’s reliability requirement. Rather than generalize from a random probability sample or representative sample, Dr. Gottlieb selected and compared eight school districts, which represented the “extremes” of the funding level and were thus most likely to support the conclusion in the report on which he was commenting. He reasoned that if the extremes failed to support the conclusions in the report, then those districts in which the funding gap was less pronounced would also not support the conclusion. The Court found that the methodology did not meet the standards for reliability, as it made generalizations about a statewide funding formula based on comparisons of only eight out of five hundred school districts, where those eight districts were purposefully nonrepresentative and clustered in Southeastern Pennsylvania. The Court also held that Dr. Gottlieb’s application of the methodology was deeply flawed.

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