Business Valuation Expert Witness Testimony Allowed in Hotel Dissolution Litigation

Summary: Business Valuation Expert Witness testimony is allowed despite the defendant’s argument that her report is unreliable because she applied the incorrect valuation date and the wrong evaluation standard.

Facts:  This case (Agnelli v. Lennox Mia. Corp – United States District Court – Southern District of Florida – May 5th, 2022) involves a dispute over a business.  The plaintiff, Diego Agnelli, divorced his wife Analia Castellanos in late 2019.  According to Agnelli, his former father in law, Juan Castellanos, ousted him from the family business by terminating his employment contract and buying off his minority interest in the company, the Lennox Hotel.  The plaintiff is seeking damages for breach of his employment contract and seeking a judicial dissolution of Lennox.  To assist in her case, Agnelli hired Business Valuation Expert Witness Kathleen Conroy to provide expert witness testimony.  The defendant has filed a motion to exclude this expert from testifying.

Discussion:  The defendant first claims that Conroy’s expert witness testimony should be excluded because it was untimely per a scheduling order.  The judge states that, in reading the scheduling order, this argument is without merit.

In addition, the defendant argues that Conroy’s expert witness testimony is not reliable.  The defendant claims that Conroy applied the incorrect valuation date and wrong evaluation standard in her report.  The court notes that Lennox has not challenged Conroy’s qualifications as an expert in valuation.  Lennox states that Conroy did not apply a minority or lack of marketability in her methodology.  Lennox cites to caselaw that courts always apply these discounts in dissolution cases, which makes Conroy’s testimony unreliable.  The judge opines that this type of argument is not suited for a motion in limine.  In addition, the court notes that this argument is a factual issue that should be presented to a jury.

Thus, the court explains, the defendants motions go to the weight of the evidence and not their admissibility.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Kathleen Conroy is denied.