Two out of Three Expert Witnesses Allowed in Contract Dispute Litigation

In this contract dispute case, the defendant and plaintiff hired expert witnesses to help with their case.  Two out of the three expert testimony was granted.

Facts: This case (Joan Cravens Construction, Inc. et al v. Deas Construction, Inc. et al – United States District Court – District of Mississippi – November 30th, 2016) involves the the purchase of windows for a house being built in Gulfport, Mississippi.  Jason Smith contracted with JCI to build his home.  Smith hired Denmark to design the home.  The plaintiffs planned to order Kolbe Ultra Series windows for the project. Deas is a dealer for Weather Shield and submitted a bid to provide the windows for the house project. The procurement process involved multiple quotes from Deas.  While the first quotes were for Premium windows, the latter quotes were for Lifeguard series as they were the only impact-rated windows made by Weather Shield at the time.  After the final quote was accepted, the plaintiffs noticed problems while the windows were being installed and they subsequently sued the defendants.  Four experts were hired to provide testimony: Darius Grimes (Windows Expert Witness), Patricia J. Fritche (Forensic Accounting Expert Witness), Lee R. Connell (Architecture Expert Witness), William D. Smith (Construction Expert Witness).  All four experts’ testimony was challenged by Daubert motions.

Discussion: The defendants challenge the expert witness testimony of Darius Grimes on numerous counts.  First, they argue that Grimes did not analyze the limited express warranty or the final quote.  The court rejected this argument.   In addition, the defendants claim that Grimes is not qualified to provide expert opinion on the design and manufacturing of windows.  Again, the court disagreed, rejecting this argument.

Also, the defendants argue that Grimes’ methodology is not reliable because he did not perform any ASTM OR AAMA testing to determine if there was a manufacturing or design defect.  In particular, the defendants argue that the “sash drift” test that Grimes used is unreliable.  The court ruled that failure to subject the windows to this type of testing is irrelevant in this particular case.  in addition, the defendants have not suggested other methodology for testing sash drifts.  Thus, the court denied the request to exclude Grimes’ expert testimony based on reliability. The court denied all other exclusion requests by the defense.

The plaintiffs argue that Patricia J. Fritche’s testimony should be excluded based on relevance and reliability.  The court agreed, stating that Fritche did not use her specialized knowledge in forensic accounting to form her conclusions.  Her methodology of understanding the meaning of certain terminology does not require accounting knowledge.  In addition, some of her testimony is legal analysis and thus not admissible.

Last, the plaintiffs argue that Lee R. Connell’s testimony is not relevant, not reliable, and contains legal analysis.  The court disagreed with this argument and denied the motion to exclude Connell’s testimony.

Conclusion:  The motions to exclude the expert witness testimony of Darius Grimes and Lee. R. Connell is denied and the motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Patricia J. Fritche is granted.