The court faced a motion in limine to preclude the insurer’s bad faith expert testimony in this UIM case. The court observed the divided case law on whether expert testimony concerning an insurer’s bad faith is permissible, and found the issue controversial. The court, however, permitted the insurer to put on its bad faith expert, with certain limitations.
The court observed that trial judges have discretion on whether to allow expert testimony, and that “expert testimony may be appropriate with respect to issues such as insurance claims adjusting procedure, an insurer’s compliance with industry customs and standards, and whether the insurer lacked a reasonable basis for denying an insured’s claim.”
In this case, after noting this was a non-jury trial and that the court was familiar with bad faith law, the court concluded that the expert testimony might assist the judge as the trier of fact “assuming [the carrier’s] claims handling procedures are complex.” However, the expert could not testify or give opinions that the court ultimately construed as legal conclusions. The judge also stated that he would give the expert testimony appropriate weight, cautioning that the testimony would be wholly disregarded if it appeared to be “nothing more than speculation unsupported by any scientific or specialized knowledge….”
Date of Decision: November 25, 2018
Debellis v. Mid-Century Ins. Co., U.S. District Court Western District of Pennsylvania No. 18cv0214, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 199353 (W.D. Pa. Nov. 25, 2018) (Schwab, J.)
Hema P. Mehta of Fineman, Krekstein & Harris represented the carrier in this matter.