Summary: Professional Engineering Expert Witness testimony allowed in part even though the defendant’s argued that the expert did not have any independent knowledge of when the hail storm occurred.
Facts: This case (Arab v. Erie Insurance Exchange Activities Association, Inc. – United States District Court – Middle District of Tennessee – April 8th, 2022) involves an insurance dispute after a hail storm allegedly caused property damage. According to the complaint, commercial buildings owned by the plaintiff (Arab) sustained $1,407,786.75 worth of damage as a result of a natural hail storm that occurred on in June 2019. Arab submitted a claim to the defendant, which was subsequently denied. The defendant argues that Arab failed to establish that there was a storm during the policy period that caused damages to the plaintiff’s property. In addition, the defendant claims that there was no functional damage to the roof system. The plaintiff hired Professional Engineering Expert Witness Steve Prosser to provide expert witness testimony on his behalf. The defendant has filed a motion to exclude this witness from testifying.
Discussion: The defendant argues that the following opinions by Prosser should be excluded: 1) Hail caused damage to the roofs during the policy period; 2) Hail strikes caused water infiltration into the buildings during the policy period; 3) that the entire roof would need to be replaced. First, the defendant claims that Prosser’s opinion that hail caused damage to the roofs within the policy period is unreliable because there is no scientific or reliable basis for his conclusions. In addition, the defendant alleges that Prosser did not have independent knowledge of when the hail storm occurred and did not offer a specific date or time during his expert disclosure. The court opines that this part of Prosser’s expert witness testimony will be allowed and that any arguments should be brought up in cross-examination.
The defendant also argues that Prosser’s expert witness testimony that the hail strikes caused water infiltration into the buildings during the policy period should be excluded because he does not establish that the hail storm occurred during the policy period and that he does not actually attribute the moisture infiltration to hail damage. The court agrees with the defendant on this point, stating that Prosser conceded that the moisture infiltration was not associated with hail damage. Thus, this part of Prosser’s expert witness testimony will be excluded.
Last, the defendant argues that Prosser’s expert witness testimony that the complete replacement of the roof is necessary should be excluded because it is unreliable speculation. The court disagrees with the defendant on this point and states that this matter is best reviewed on cross-examination.
Conclusion: The defendant’s motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Steve Prosser is granted in part and denied in part.