Insurance Expert Witness Testimony Allowed in Coverage Case Involving Attorneys’ Fees

Summary: Insurance Expert Witness is allowed to testify even though the plaintiffs argued that he is unqualified because he does not have any experience in providing expert opinions on attorneys’ fees in trademark litigation.

Facts:  This case (America Can! et al v. Arch Insurance Company et al – United States District Court – Northern District of Texas – April 9th, 2022) involves an insurance claim for attorneys’ fees and expenses incurred by the plaintiff when it defended a trademark infringement case.  In December 2014, the plaintiff was sued by Kars 4 Kids in federal court alleging trademark infringement.  While the plaintiff were victorious in the trial (with the judge awarding monetary damages and injunctive relief), they were denied requests for attorneys’ fees and enhanced damages. America Can! filed a claim with Arch Insurance Company, but the defendant refused to fully reimburse them for fees and expenses.  America Can! subsequently filed suit against Arch Insurance Company.  The defendant hired Insurance Expert Witness Christopher Martin to provide expert testimony.  The plaintiff filed a motion to exclude Martin from testifying.

Discussion:  America Can! argues that Mr. Martin should be excluded from testifying in this case because he does not have the qualifications to provide opinions on attorneys’ fees in trademark litigation because he does not have any experience trying intellectual property cases and has not tried a case in New Jersey.  In addition, they argue that Mr. Martin does not have experience handling or processing insurance claims.  The court states that Mr. Martin, who is an attorney, has represented parties in civil suits in the insurance industry for over 30 years.  The court also notes that Mr. Martin has experience involving coverage disputes in a variety of intellectual property cases.  Also, Mr. Martin has provided expert witness testimony in coverage disputes since 1996.  Thus, the court rules that Mr. Martin is qualified to provide expert witness testimony in this case.

America Can! also alleges that Mr. Martin should be excluded from providing expert witness testimony because he provides only legal opinions.  The court notes that Mr. Martin was retained by the defense as a rebuttal expert on the handling of the plaintiff’s insurance claim.  At his deposition, Mr. Martin explained that he was providing expert testimony on attorneys’ fees and insurance claims handling and his testimony was not his legal interpretation of Texas case law or insurance statutes.   The Court opines that Mr. Martin’s expert testimony will be allowed as it will assist the jury in coming to a conclusion.

Last, the plaintiff’s complain that Mr. Martins testimony is unreliable because they are based on unproven assumptions and unreliable methodology. The court opines that Mr. Martin’s expert opinions are not so fundamentally unsupported that would not assist the trier of fact in reaching a verdict in this case.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness opinion of Christopher Martin is denied.