Life Insurance Expert Witness Testimony Not Allowed

Plaintiff sued Defendant for denying a reinstatement application after a life insurance policy lapsed.  The plaintiff filed suit and hired a life insurance expert witness to provide testimony.  The defendant filed a motion to exclude, which the court granted.

Facts:  This case (European Pensions Management Limited v. Columbus Life Insurance Company – United States District Court – Southern District of Ohio –  October 11th, 2017) involves a life insurance policy.  The Plaintiff (EPM) owned the policy, which was issued by the defendant (“Columbus Life”) to a man named Harry Harrison.  After securing the policy, Harrison sold it to another individual, who subsequently sold it to EPM.  EPM allegedly allowed the policy to lapse and Columbus cancelled the policy after it wasn’t paid by the grace period.  EPM submitted a restatement application to Columbus Life, which was denied due to the deteriorating health of Mr. Harrison.  EPM filed suit stating that Columbus Life breached the policy and acted in bad faith.  EPM hired Richard Mintzer as a life insurance expert witness to provide testimony.  Columbus Life filed a motion to exclude Mintzer’s testimony.

Discussion: Mintzer is an insurance industry professional with forty years experience, has never been a life insurance or medical underwriter. In addition, he doesn’t have any experience or education on how insurance companies deal with premium payments or restatements.  Mintzer provided four opinions in his report: 1) Columbus Life should had utilized the generally-accepted rule that weekend and legal holidays do not count as business days; 2) Columbus Life’s use of the phrase “evidence of insurability” is ambiguous; 3) Columbus Life turned down Harrison’s reinstatement application due to his age; and 4)Columbus Life utilized very strict underwriting standards.  Columbus Life challenged these opinions.

The court opined that Mintzer’s first opinion should be excluded because he does not provide any data or facts to back up his claim that Columbus Life should have used the customary “weekend and legal holiday” rule.  He supported his opinion by referencing his experience working in the insurance industry.  He also admitted that the policy contained language that it did not provide for exceptions for payments due on weekends or legal holidays.

Second, the court stated that Mintzer’s second opinion on the ambiguity of a certain phrase in the policy should be excluded because expert witnesses cannot opine on these type of issues and is not admissible. Regarding Mintzer’s third opinion, the court ruled that Mintzer does not have any actuary data to back up his claim nor does he have any facts to back up his claims.

Last, the court excluded the last piece of the testimony as well, due to Mintzer’s contradictory statements and his inability to provide data or facts to back up his opinions.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Richard Mintzer was granted.