Forensic Accounting Expert Witness Testimony Allowed in Employment Stock Option Litigation

Summary: Forensic Accounting Expert Witness testimony is allowed even though the defendant argued that the expert’s discussion of common stock options was a legal conclusion.

Facts:  This case (Lindland v. TuSimple, Inc. et al – United States District Court – Southern District of California – October 24, 2022) involves a breach of contract claim. The plaintiff, John Lindland, alleges that his former employer fired him so as to avoid not paying him his stock options, which would have been due to him.  The plaintiff hired Forensic Accounting Expert Witness Horacio Valeiras to provide expert witness testimony.  The defendant, TuSimple, filed a motion to exclude this expert from testifying.

Discussion: Lindland hired Mr. Valeiras to provide an expert opinion about the alleged damages which were accruing from the allegations of conversion as well as the amount of Mr. Lindland’s promised common stock options from  TuSimple.  Mr. Valeiras looked at numerous documents from the case file as well as the Plaintiff’s employment offer letter.

The defendant stated that Mr. Valeiras’s opinion that the Plaintiff was granted common stock options was a legal conclusion, and should be excluded from his expert witness testimony.  The plaintiff alleged that his discussion of common stock options was based on the plain language of the contract as well as additional documentation that was provided to him during the litigation process.

The court opined that Mr. Valeiras’s expert witness report about the amount of the Plaintiff’s economic damages are not legal conclusions.  The court also stated that Mr. Valeiras’s opinions were based on his review of the documents as well as his calculations of the amount of the share options.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness opinion of Horacio Valeiras is denied.