The court denied Daubert motions for several experts with the exception of Professor Stempel’s expert testimony opining that the insurer did not act in bad faith Adell Plastics, Inc. v. Mt. Hawley Ins. Co., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 102942 (D. Md. June 19, 2019).
A fire demolished several buildings at Adell’s facility. Adell was insured under a commercial property policy issued by Mt. Hawley. Mt. Hawley sued Adell, seeking a declaration that it owed no coverage, and requesting recoupment of a substantial advance payment. Adell filed a counterclaim, alleging that Mt. Hawley had breached the policy and had acted with a lack of good faith. Before the court were several pretrial motions, including motions to exclude testimony of eight expert witnesses.
The court denied Adell’s motion to exclude several experts to be called by Mt. Hawley. The accountant’s testimony was relevant. Adell had to prove damages on its breach of contract claim, and the accountant’s testimony would aid the jury in evaluating Adell’s documentation and calculating documented damages. Mt. Hawley’s fire safety expert investigated the Adell fire. Mt. Hawley had shown that his expert opinion would be sufficiently reliable for admissibility. Further, three fire protection engineers offered by Mt. Hawley and two fire protection engineers to be called by Adell were allowed to testify. Each expert based his investigation and conclusions on the standards of fire investigation as set out in the NEPA Guide for Fire and Explosion Investigations. This was a fire insurance case, and fire protection engineers would be allowed to testify and illuminate the circumstances of the fire.
Regarding Adell’s motion to exclude Professor Stempel, the court found this testimony was irrelevant. Stempel’s report described the law and made various legal conclusions. A legal conclusion was not likely to assist the jury because the court would provide all necessary legal conclusions in the form of jury instructions. Here, Stempel wanted to tell the jury what result to reach on the lack of good faith issue. The legal conclusions on an ultimate issue for trial predominated Stempel’s report. Therefore, Adell’s motion to exclude his testimony was granted.