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Hunton v. American Zurich Insurance Co.

United States District Court, D. Arizona

March 6, 2018

Bryan Hunton, Plaintiff,
v.
American Zurich Insurance Company, Defendant.

          ORDER

          Douglas L. Rayes United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Bryan Hunton accuses Defendant American Zurich Insurance Company (“American Zurich”) of handling his worker's compensation claim in bad faith. Before the Court is American Zurich's Motion to Exclude Testimony of Elliot Flood. (Doc. 204.) The motion is fully briefed and neither party requested oral argument. For reasons that follow, the motion is granted in part and denied in part.

         I. Legal Standard

         The district court determines whether expert testimony is admissible. See Estate of Barabin v. AstenJohnson, Inc., 740 F.3d 457, 464-65 (9th Cir. 2014).

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. Thus, Rule 702 requires expert testimony to be both relevant and reliable. Barabin, 740 F.3d at 463. Testimony is relevant if “[t]he evidence . . . logically advance[s] a material aspect of the party's case, ” Cooper v. Brown, 510 F.3d 870, 942 (9th Cir. 2007), and reliable if it has “a reliable basis in the knowledge and experience of the relevant discipline, ” Kumho Tire Co., Ltd. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137, 149 (1999).

         When assessing the reliability of expert witness testimony, the court should consider the non-exhaustive factors identified by the Supreme Court in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc.: (1) whether the method “can be (and has been) tested;” (2) whether the method “has been subjected to peer review and publication;” (3) the method's “known or potential rate of error;” (4) whether there are “standards controlling the technique's operation;” and (5) whether the method has “general acceptance” within the “relevant scientific community.” 509 U.S. 579, 592-94 (1993). “[T]he test of reliability is ‘flexible, ' and Daubert's list of specific factors neither necessarily nor exclusively applies to all experts or in every case.” Kumho Tire, 526 U.S. at 141.

         Federal Rule of Evidence 403 allows the district court to “exclude relevant evidence if its probative value is substantially outweighed by a danger of . . . unfair prejudice, confusing the issues, misleading the jury, undue delay, wasting time, or needlessly presenting cumulative evidence.” “Rule 403 and Daubert address different aspects of evidence and therefore act independently.” United States v. Ramirez-Robles, 386 F.3d 1234, 1246 (9th Cir. 2004). Thus, evidence found reliable under Rule 702 may nonetheless be excluded under Rule 403 “if its probative value is outweighed by its prejudicial impact.” Id.

         II. Discussion

         Hunton retained Robert Hommel to opine on the standards of good faith and fair dealing in the administration of worker's compensation claims. He also retained Flood to: (1) “obtain American Zurich's public regulatory filings and conduct an analysis based on those filings and Zurich's business records produced in this case, ” (2) “provide [his] opinions on the root causes of the compliance failures identified by Bob Hommel in his report dated April 5, 2017, ” (3) “[p]rovide basic background on American Zurich . . . before assessing [the] company's compliance with industry standards for claim handling, ” (4) “[s]ummarize American Zurich's financial wealth as reported in its most recent financial statements . . ., ” and (5) “[p]rovide an analysis of the control and governance issues underlying American Zurich's compliance issues experienced in handling ...


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