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Axis Specialty Insurance Co. v. New Hampshire Insurance Co.

United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Western Division

February 2, 2017

AXIS SPECIALTY INSURANCE COMPANY, Plaintiff,
v.
NEW HAMPSHIRE INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant.

         ORDER AND OPINION (1) GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO LIMIT TESTIMONY OF CHARLES HENDERSON, (2) GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO LIMIT TESTIMONY OF MICHAEL MANNERS, AND (3) GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO STRIKE AND EXCLUDE THE TESTIMONY OF RUSSELL WATTERS

          ORTRIE D. SMITH, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT SENIOR JUDGE

         Pending are NHIC's Motion to Limit the Testimony of Plaintiff's Expert Charles Henderson (Doc. #110), NHIC's Motion to Limit the Testimony of Plaintiff's Expert Michael Manners (Doc. #112), and AXIS's Motion to Strike the Expert Designation and Exclude the Testimony of Russell Watters (Doc. #114). NHIC's motions are granted in part and denied in part, and AXIS's motion is likewise granted in part and denied in part.

         I. STANDARD

         The admission of expert testimony is governed by Rule 702 of the Federal Rules of Evidence.

A witness who is qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education may testify in the form of an opinion or otherwise if: (a) the expert's scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will help the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue; (b) the testimony is based on sufficient facts or data; (c) the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods; and (d) the expert has reliably applied the principles and methods to the facts of the case.

Fed. R. Evid. 702. The district court must make a “preliminary assessment of whether the reasoning or methodology underlying the testimony is scientifically valid and of whether that reasoning or methodology can be applied to the facts in issue.” Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharms., Inc., 509 U.S. 579, 592-93 (1993). In determining the admissibility of expert testimony, the Court uses the following three-part test:

First, evidence based on scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge must be useful to the finder of fact in deciding the ultimate issue of fact. This is the basic rule of relevancy. Second, the proposed witness must be qualified to assist the finder of fact. Third, the proposed evidence must be reliable or trustworthy in an evidentiary sense, so that, if the finder of fact accepts it as true, it provides the assistance the finder of fact requires.

Lauzon v. Senco Prods., Inc., 270 F.3d 681, 686 (8th Cir. 2001) (internal quotations and citations omitted).

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Charles Henderson

         NHIC argues AXIS's expert Charles Henderson oversteps the boundaries for expert testimony because his opinions (1) contradict the YMCA's position and are not relevant to AXIS's theory of the case; (2) invade the province of the jury; (3) lack foundation; (4) are speculation; and (5) are duplicative of AXIS's other expert.

         (1) YMCA's Position and AXIS's Theory of the Case

         Henderson will testify that NHIC violated accepted industry standards, practices, and procedures, as well as violated its own claims handling standards. NHIC argues these opinions contradict the YMCA's position. Because the YMCA's witnesses testified they had no complaints about the investigation of the Rider claim, AXIS, who steps into the shoes of the YMCA in this lawsuit, cannot assert contradictory testimony. AXIS argues the YMCA's representatives are not experts in insurance standards, and are not qualified to opine on whether an investigation of a claim satisfies industry standards. While YMCA assigned its claims to AXIS, the YMCA's representatives are not insurance experts. Accordingly, AXIS will not be limited to the YMCA's representatives' testimonies regarding NHIC's investigation and handling of the Rider claim/lawsuit. Henderson will be permitted to testify about NHIC's investigation.

         NHIC also argues these opinions are irrelevant to AXIS's theory of the case because AXIS only claims NHIC failed to settle the Rider lawsuit. AXIS alleges claims of bad faith failure to settle and vexatious refusal. NHIC's investigation and its determinations throughout that investigation are relevant to AXIS's claims. The quality of NHIC's investigation is directly connected to its declination to offer a settlement sum up to the maximum of its policy limits. Otherwise stated, a sub-standard investigation might result in an inadequate settlement offer. Henderson will be permitted to testify about NHIC's investigation into the Rider claim/lawsuit.

         (2) Invading the ...


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