Building Codes, Manufactured Homes, and Insurance Adjuster Expert Witness Testimony Allowed

Plaintiffs sued defendants after being denied permits for their mobile homes.  Numerous experts were called to testify and motions to exclude to were filed.  The court denied these motions.

Facts:  This case (Riverside Storage and Recycling Center, LLC et al v. City of Federal Heights – United States District Court – District of Colorado – October 31st, 2017) involves the rehabilitation of mobile homes after a flood.  The plaintiffs sued the defendants after they denied permits to move their mobile homes from a flood infected area to another city.  Both parties hired expert witness to provide testimony.  The plaintiffs hired Stephen Thomas (building codes expert witness) and Craig Shriver (manufactured homes expert witness).  The defendants hired Chris Tremaine and Kelly Spence (insurance adjuster expert witnesses).  Both parties filed motions to exclude the testimony of these experts.

Discussion:  Stephen Thomas was hired to testify that the Defendant did not properly apply the correct legal codes.  These codes include the International Residential Code (“IRC”), the International Property Maintenance Code (“IPMC”), as well as its own municipal code.  The plaintiff argues that Mr. Thomas’ testimony should be excluded because he is instructing the jury about the law.  The court disagreed by opining that Thomas’ testimony does not improperly instruct the jury on the law, but rather applies his knowledge of building codes to the circumstances of the case.  The court also concludes that Thomas’ testimony will aid the jury in understanding the facts of the case, and is thus admissible.

The plaintiffs retained Mr. Shriver as a non-retained expert witness.  The defendants argue that Mr. Shriver’s opinion should be excluded because are not reliable and include an improper legal opinion.  The court disagreed with the defendants on this issue by stating that Mr. Shriver is qualified to form an opinion about the facts of this case and any arguments about Shriver’s qualifications is best brought up during cross examination.  In addition, the defendants allege that Mr. Shriver’s opinion about building permits and the certificates of occupancy are legal opinions.  The court disagree stating that Mr. Shriver is not forming an opinion on the legal effect of a certificate of occupancy.

The Plaintiffs argue that Tremaine and Spence’s testimony should be excluded because they are not qualified to offer an opinion, their testimony is based on an insufficient review of the evidence, and their opinions are unhelpful to the jury.  The court ruled against the plaintiffs on this motion because the resumes reflect that Tremaine and Spence are well qualified to offer an opinion in this case.  In addition, the court ruled that the experts do not have to visit the scene in order to testify on a technical issue.  Last, the argument that Tremaine and Spence’s testimony are unhelpful go to the weight of the evidence, not its admissibility.

Conclusion:  The motions to exclude the expert witness testimony of Stephen Thomas, Craig Shriver, Chris Tremaine and Kelly Spence are denied.