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Vandervort v. Nationstar Mortgage, LLC

United States District Court, W.D. Missouri.

January 5, 2015

MERLYN VANDERVORT and MVI ENTERPRISES, LLC, Plaintiffs,
v.
NATIONSTAR MORTGAGE, LLC, Defendant.

ORDER

NANETTE K. LAUGHREY, District Judge.

Defendant Nationstar Mortgage, LC, moves to exclude testimony of Plaintiffs' expert witnesses Doug Ross and Larry Lenhart, Docs. 57 and 59. Plaintiffs move to exclude testimony of Defendant's experts, Doc. 63. Defendant's motion to exclude Larry Lenhart, Doc. 57, is denied. Defendant's motion to exclude Doug Ross, Doc. 59, and Plaintiffs' motion to exclude Defendant's experts, Doc. 63, are granted in part and denied in part.

I. Background

Plaintiffs initiated this action alleging violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act ("FCRA"), contending that Defendant refused to properly credit payments made on Plaintiff Merlyn Vandervort's loan accounts. Plaintiffs seek to present the opinions of two expert witnesses regarding the effect of a bad credit report on Vandervort's ability to obtain loans and purchase properties at the Lake of the Ozarks. Defendant seeks to present two expert opinions regarding Vandervort's purported default on his loans and the effect of these defaults on Vandervort's credit report and ability to get subsequent loans.

II. Discussion

Daubert [1] principles and Federal Rule of Evidence 702[2] call for liberal admission of expert testimony. Johnson v. Mead Johnson & Co., LLC, 754 F.3d 557, 562 (8th Cir. 2014) (citing U.S. v. Finch, 630 F.3d 1057, 1062 (8th Cir. 2011) (holding that doubts about usefulness of expert testimony are resolved in favor of admissibility); Robinson v. GEICO Gen. Ins. Co., 447 F.3d 1096, 1100 (8th Cir. 2006) (holding that expert testimony should be admitted if it "advances the trier of fact's understanding to any degree"); Lauzon v. Senco Prods., Inc., 270 F.3d 681, 686 (8th Cir. 2001) (Rule 702 "clearly is one of admissibility rather than exclusion"); Wood v. Minn. Mining & Mfg. Co., 112 F.3d 306, 309 (8th Cir. 1997) (holding that exclusion of expert's opinion is proper "only if it is so fundamentally unsupported that it can offer no assistance to the jury"). "As long as the expert's... testimony rests upon good grounds, based on what is known' it should be tested by the adversary process with competing expert testimony and cross-examination, rather than excluded by the court at the outset." Id. (citing Daubert, 509 U.S. at 590, 596). Federal trial judges have "broad discretion" in making decisions concerning expert testimony's admissibility. Bradshaw v. FFE Transp. Servs., Inc., 715 F.3d 1104, 1107 (8th Cir. 2013).

A. Defendant's Motion to Exclude Larry Lenhart

Plaintiffs seek to admit the testimony of Larry Lenhart regarding the effect of a negative credit report on Vandervort's ability to obtain loans. Defendant seeks to exclude Lenhart's Opinion 8:

Based on Mr. Vandervort's credit reports that I reviewed, Mr. Vandervort would not be able to borrow money for speculative housing development or many other types of commercial loans, and he should not apply for such a loan until Nationstar Mortgage's negative payment history is removed. Except for Nationstar Mortgage's negative repayment history data, Mr. Vandervort's credit history is of the quality required to obtain a large commercial loan or multi-million dollar speculative construction loans.

[Doc. 58-1, p. 6].

Defendant contends that Lenhart's opinion must be excluded because he failed to follow his bank's lending methodology and failed to consider anything other than Vandervort's credit reports to conclude that his credit history was sufficient to obtain a large commercial loan. Specifically, Defendant cites Lenhart's statement in his deposition that "[w]ithout... seeing [Vandervort's] tax returns, his personal financial statements, or the financial statements of those entities that he would borrow under, " Lenhart could not say how much his bank would lend to Vandervort.

While Defendant may be correct that Lenhart's opinion does not conclusively establish that Vandervort would have been able to acquire a large commercial or speculative construction loan, Lenhart's opinion as presented in his expert report does not claim that Vandervort would have been able to obtain such a loan. The opinion as rendered states that "Mr. Vandervort's credit history is of the quality required" to obtain a loan. [Doc. 58-1, p. 6] (emphasis added). Defendant presents no evidence that Lenhart's statement regarding the quality of Vandervort's credit history is inaccurate or unreliable. As such, Lenhart's opinion is admissible. Defendant may question Lenhart as to the effect of Vandervort's other financial history on his ability to actually obtain a loan on cross-examination.

B. Defendant's Motion to Exclude Doug Ross

Plaintiffs also seek to admit the opinion of Doug Ross, who will testify as to the investment opportunities available at the Lake of the Ozarks at the time of Vandervort's negative credit report. Defendant asks that Ross's Opinions 3 and 5 be excluded. Plaintiffs withdraw Ross's Opinions 3 and 5 in their suggestions in opposition to Defendant's motion. As such, Defendant's ...


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