Insurance Claims And Experts (Plumbing)

Insurance claims often do not need an expert to help the case.  When an expert is needed, it is important to know how courts look at experts.  Here is a homeowners case wherein an expert is being used to bolster the case.  This is a 2022 opinion from the Western District of Texas, San Antonio Division.  The opinion is styled, FB & SB Leasing, LLC v. Chubb Lloyds Insurance Company of Texas.

In this firstparty insurance dispute involving a property experiencing plumbing problems and foundation issues, Chubb presents two reliability arguments to support excluding the opinion
testimony of Plaintiff FB &SB Leasing’s sole causation expert, Michael B. Couch Chubb urges first that Couch’s report provides insufficient information about his methodology.  Second, Chubb argues Couch relied on mistaken or incorrect underlying data when opining that there were multiple leaks at the property.  There’s no dispute that Couch’s testimony, if reliable, would be relevant. Chubb also doesn’t dispute Couch’s qualifications. As argued, and on this record, Chubb’s complaints go to the eventual weight a jury might afford the testimony and are most appropriately addressed at trial via cross-examination or through introduction of competing expert testimony.

As to the first argument, there’s no dispute that Couch inspected the property on multiple occasions and relied on a plumbing report that noted multiple breaks in plumbing lines.  Relying on this underlying data and his ample training and experience, Couch opined on the cause of the damage to the property.  This is sufficient given the parties arguments presented here.  The second of Chubb’s arguments relies on a distinction Chubb draws between leaks and breaksin plumbing, which on this record is an issue better reserved for cross examination at trial.  Both sides experts relied on the same plumbing report that noted multiple plumbing issues.  Even Defendant’s expert appears to use the terms break and leak interchangeably in his expert report. Moreover, Chubb didn’t depose Couch, which might have provided more detail and nuance on these issues to further inform a motion to exclude.  Accordingly, on this record and based on the arguments presented by Chubb, the Motion, is Denied Without Prejudice.  Chubb may re-urge its arguments later in the case, via a motion in limine or at trial.

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