Life Insurance Cases And Experts

Insurance lawyers will often have a case wherein an expert is needed.  When this happens it is important to understand how to get an expert’s testimony admissible in a court proceeding.  Here is a 2023, opinion that discusses expert’s.  It is from the Western District of Texas, Austin Division.  It is styled, Firmus Management And Construction LLC v. Third Coast Insurance Company.
Federal Rule of Evidence 702 sets the standard the admissibility of expert testimony.  Rule 702 provides:
A witness who is qualified as an expert by knowledge, experience, training, or education may testify in the form of an opinion or otherwise if:
  1. (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;
  2. (b)  the testimony is based on sufficient facts or data;
  3. (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.

    Under the 1993, U.S. Supreme Court opinion, Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, a trial court acts as a “gatekeeper,” making a “preliminary assessment of whether the reasoning or methodology properly can be applied to the facts in issue.”  Daubert and its principles apply to both scientific and non-scientific expert testimony.  Experts need not be highly qualified to testify, and differences in expertise go to the weight of the testimony, rather than admissibility.  Nonetheless, courts need not admit testimony that is based purely on the unsupported assertions of an expert.  In addition to being qualified, an expert’s methodology for developing the basis of his or her opinion must be reliable.   “The expert’s assurances that he [or she] has utilized generally accepted scientific methodology is insufficient.”  Even if the expert is qualified and the basis of his or her opinion is reliable, the underlying methodology must have also been correctly applied to the case’s particular facts in order for the expert’s testimony to be relevant.  The party proffering expert testimony has the burden of establishing by a preponderance of the evidence that the challenged expert testimony is admissible.   The proponent does not have to demonstrate that the testimony is correct, only that the expert is qualified and that the testimony is relevant and reliable.  Pursuant to Rule 403, the Court may also exclude evidence if its probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice, confusion of the issues, or misleading the jury, or by considerations of undue delay, waste of time, or needless presentation of cumulative evidence.

Contact Information