Real Estate Damages Expert Witness Testimony Allowed in Home Appraisal Case

Summary: Plaintiff Nell Dysart filed suit against defendant Trustmark claiming that it wrongfully foreclosed on and sold her house. Dysart hired a Real Estate Damages Expert Witness to provide testimony on her behalf. Trustmark filed a motion to exclude this expert witness from testifying.  The court denied the motion to exclude.

Facts: This case (Dysart v. Trustmark National Bank et al – United States District Court – Northern District of Alabama – August 19, 2020) involves an alleged wrongful disclosure and sale of a house, owned by the plaintiff Nell Dysart. The plaintiff hired Real Estate Damages Expert Witness Scott Long to provide testimony.

Defendant Trustmark claims that Mr. Long’s testimony should be excluded because he is a real estate broker and not a licensed real estate appraiser. Ms. Dysart states that Mr. Long should qualify as an expert witness due to his 18 years of working in the real estate business and the fact that he has substantial knowledge estimating the value of homes.

In addition, Ms. Dysart explains that Mr. Long qualifies as an expert in this case because he sold the subdivision where her house is domiciled as well as sold numerous other homes in the subdivision.  Also, Ms. Dysart notes that Mr. Long did research in order to gather information in order to make his valuation assessment.

Trustmark retorts by saying that Mr. Long’s opinion should be excluded because it is not relevant and that the Alabama Code does not allow him to provide an opinion on valuing a house without an appraisal license. 

The court opinion notes that Alabama law requires that those who perform an appraisal under the statute have an appraisal license. The judge also states that the appraisal sections of the Alabama code should not exclude Mr. Long from testifying in this case.  The court further says that the law governing licensed appraisers does not have a direct reference to valuing a property for expert witness testimony purposes.

Also, the court opines that the Alabama Supreme Court has allowed expert witness testimony from a real estate broker to appraise the value of property. Thus, the court states that Trustmark has not provided any support for its argument that Mr. Long’s expert witness testimony should be excluded under Alabama law.

The court also opines that Ms. Dysart has proved that Mr. Long is a licensed real estate broker with a lot of experience in the real estate market and enough knowledge about the value of houses in the subdivision where Ms. Dysart lives. In addition, the court opines that Mr. Long will be able to provide reliable expert witness testimony about the market value of Ms. Dysart’s home and that it will assist the trier of fact in this case.

Conclusion:  Trustmark’s motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Scott Long is denied by the court.