Economics Expert Witness Allowed, in Part

Relator filed a False Claims Act action against defendant.  Relator hired an Economics Expert Witness to provide testimony.  Defendant filed a motion to exclude this expert witness testimony, which was granted in part and denied in part by the court.

Facts:  This case (Uchytil v. Avanade Inc et al – United States District Court – Western District of Washington – August 21st, 2018) involves a False Claims Act action.  The relator alleges that the defendants acquired Department of Defense contracts for “Task Management Tool” (TMT), a software product, and other supporting services through material omissions and false statements about the nature of the software and the Government’s right to use the source code.  The relator has hired Economics Expert Witness Dr. Christina Tapia to provide expert testimony on her behalf.  The defendant has filed a motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Dr. Tapia.

Discussion: The defendants argue that Dr. Tapia’s opinions rests on impermissible opinions about the Government contracting process as well as the Defendants’ state of mind.  In addition, they argue that Dr. Tapia’s opinions are not based on reliable principles and methods.

The defendants argue that Dr. Tapia’s opinions rests on impermissible opinions about the Government contracting process.  The Relator responds that the statements are not opinions but a recitation of the relevant legal standards.  The court opines that it is clear that Dr. Tapia goes beyond citing federal regulations and applies legal standards to the facts of the case.  The Relator goes on to state that Dr. Tapia only cited and accepts as true the allegations in the operative complaint.  The court disagrees, opining that Dr. Tapia states that she understands some of the premises in the complaint and draws legal conclusions from them.  The court thus opines that some of Dr. Tapia’s testimony should be excluded because they are legal conclusions, which is not allowed under Daubert.

The defendants next argue that Dr. Tapia offers improper conclusions about the parties’ state of mind or intentions.  The Relator replies by stating that these opinions are the product of reasoned analysis based on evidence that she examined as well as her expertise, and thus, should not be excluded.  The Relator expands on her argument by stating that Dr. Tapia’s experience as an economist provides an expert perspective on the motivations of the defendants contracting decisions.  The court agreed with the defendants, opining that Dr. Tapia’s experience does not extend to the evaluation of the parties’ actions, communications, or intentions.

The defendants last argue that Dr. Tapia’s methodology is unreliable and admissible, to which the court disagreed.  The court opines that any arguments about Dr. Tapia’s methodology go to the weight of the evidence, not their admissibility.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness opinion of Dr. Tapia is granted in part and denied in part.