DECEMBER 2013 BAD FAITH CASES: INSURER SUCCESSFULLY EXCLUDES PLAINTIFF’S BAD FAITH EXPERT ON MOTION IN LIMINE (Middle District)

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The court was faced with three motions in limine prior to trial.

The first concerned the individual plaintiff hired to act as his bad faith expert. Plaintiff selected the individual based on his experience as a former attorney who had handled more than 10,000 insurance claims as an independent adjuster, and who had authored a book on insurance claims and disputes. He prepared a report discussing what information the defendant had at various points in the claims process, and compared that information to the defendant’s settlement offers. In the report, he also interpreted the defendant’s claim policy, and made several conclusions about whether or not the insurer’s conduct constituted bad faith.

Defense counsel sought to have the expert excluded under Rule 702 of the Federal Rules of Evidence asserting whether the defendant acted in bad faith was readily understandable by a lay person, making the expert’s opinion inadmissible. Plaintiff argued the testimony would aid the jurors in making a determination as to whether the defendant acted in bad faith.

The court determined plaintiff’s expert would be offering opinions about whether various offers to settle were reasonable by presenting and analyzing evidence admissible through other witnesses. He would then draw conclusions about whether the defendant’s conduct constituted bad faith. He did not intend to present industry standards, nor was he analyzing any matters that were scientific in nature.

The court held plaintiff failed to demonstrate how the expert was in any better position than the jury to compare defendant’s offer with the information provided to the defendant at various times. These types of experts have previously been excluded in both Federal and State court, and therefore the court followed precedent in excluding plaintiff’s expert.

Next, the court denied defendant’s motion to exclude testimony by plaintiff and his treating physicians on relevancy and prejudice grounds.

Finally, the court granted defendant’s motion to exclude the value of the arbitration award as prejudicial.

Date of Decision: November 15, 2013.

Scott v. Geico Gen. Ins. Co., Civil Action No. 3:11-1790, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 16264 (M.D. Pa. Nov. 15, 2013) (Mannion, J.).

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