Attorney’s Expert Witness Testimony on Handling Insurance Claims Not Allowed

Defendants hired an attorney with three decades of handling insurance cases as an expert.  Plaintiff’s challenged and the motion was granted.

Facts: This case (Lopez et al v. Allstate Fire & Casualty Insurance Company – United States District Court – Southern District of Florida – September 23rd, 2015) involves a motor vehicle accident and, more specifically, the insurance coverage dispute that follows.  The defendant’s hired D. James Kadyk, Esq as a liability insurance expert witness and the plaintiff challenged this testimony.

Michelle Soto, insured by Allstate, was involved in an automobile accident with Giraldo Lopez and his wife, Magaly Nunez Delgado after she lost control of her car and crashed into a bus stop where the Lopez’s were waiting.   Mr. Lopez was pronounced dead on the scene.  After retaining counsel, Lopez’s estate hired an attorney who, in turn, contacted Allstate with the intent to file claims against Ms. Soto.

An Allstate adjuster revealed to the Lopez’s attorney that there were various limits related to Ms. Soto’s policy, totaling $65,000.    After various letter exchanges between Lopez’s attorney and Allstate, and one lawsuit filed in state court, Ms. Soto settled with the Lopez’s for over 1.4 Million dollars.  The Lopez’s subsequently brought this action against Allstate alleging bad faith to Ms. Soto which subsequently caused the excess judgment against her. Allstate then hired Mr. Kadyk to opine that they did indeed act in good faith with regard to Ms. Soto and that they properly handled the claim.

In his expert report, Mr. Kadyk stated that he reviewed an extensive record that included the policy, pleadings and discovery in the lower court action and in the instant case, as well as attorney files.  In addition, he relied on Florida statutes when coming to his conclusions.    The defense filed a motion to exclude his testimony on three grounds: 1) qualifications, 2) reliability and 3) not helpful to the trier of fact.

Discussion: The plaintiff’s argue that Mr. Kadyk is not qualified to opine on the issue of good faith insurance claims because he is not an insurance adjuster, nor has he ever worked for an insurance company or trained in the field.  His years working as an insurance attorney is not enough for him to qualify as an expert in this case, they argued.    The court agreed with he plaintiff’s in that he does not qualify, citing numerous case law to back up the opinion.

In addition, the plaintiff’s contend that Mr. Kadyk’s methodology in coming to his conclusions are not reliable as he does not show any basis for forming his conclusions.   The defense argues that his over 30 years experience of providing legal insurance opinions to clients assisted in his conclusion formation.   Again, the court agreed with the plaintiffs as he did not show how his experience as an attorney assisted in forming his conclusions.

Last, the plaintiff’s state that Mr. Kadyk’s testimony will not assist the trier of fact in determining the outcome of this case.  In addition, his opinions only amount to applying Florida law to this case, which the judge and the jury can do without assistance from his testimony.  The judge agreed with the plaintiff.

Held:  The expert witness testimony of Mr. Kadyk was not allowed.  The motion to exclude his testimony was granted.