Custom Search
Over 10000 Pages Indexed
Your Host
Click here to read about RF CafeKirt
Blattenberger

... single-
handedly
redefining
what an
engineering website
should be.

View the YouTube RF Cafe Intro Video Carpe Diem!
(Seize the Day!)

5CCG (5th MOB):
My USAF radar shop

Hobby & Fun

Airplanes and Rockets:
My personal hobby website

Equine Kingdom:
My daughter Sally's horse
riding business website -
lots of info

•−•  ••−•    −•−•  •−  ••−•  •
RF Cafe Morse Code >Hear It<

Job Board

About RF Cafe©

RF Cafe E-Mail

Can Expert Statements Inadvertently Waive Protection?

Visit IMS Expert Services
Reprinted with permission.


BullsEye: June 2013

Can Expert Statements Inadvertently Waive Protection?

Posted by Maggie Tamburro on 2013/06/25
Add comments

Talk about pre-trial expert issues that can cause heartburn . . . try these on for size: When are opinions held by a non-testifying expert discoverable by an opposing party, and, if protected, can statements made to an opposing party operate to waive that protection?

In a June 5th decision on a motion to compel discovery of an opposing party’s non-testifying expert, a federal district court in Iowa has issued a ruling addressing these sticky issues in a breach of implied warranty and breach of contract case.

If you don’t typically see a lot written on these expert issues, that’s hardly a surprise. The issues are complicated and can give way to confusion and in some cases disagreement among courts, as aptly noted in this decision. However, sticking one’s head in the sand could result in landing you on the wrong side of an adverse expert ruling.

Maggie Tamburro, JD, IMS ExpertServices - RF Cafe
Maggie Tamburro, JD
mtamburro@ims-expertservices.com
The Case

The suit involved allegations that the defendant, a New York manufacturing company, supplied plaintiff with defective products, which plaintiff used to rebuild automotive products which it then sold to end consumers.

Plaintiff filed suit in 2012, and later that year the court allowed defendant to add a third-party claim against another entity, based on claims that defendant should be allowed recovery for contribution or indemnity if certain products were found to be defective.

In April of this year plaintiff filed a motion to compel, seeking discovery of opinions held by the defendant’s expert, a professional engineer with a B.S. and M.S. in metallurgical and materials engineering, who, at defendant’s behest, allegedly made a trip to plaintiff’s place of business in 2009.

The Expert Visit

During the visit, the expert allegedly met with plaintiff’s CEO and defendant’s insurer and examined products supplied by defendant which were at issue in the case.

According to an affidavit filed in support of plaintiff’s motion to compel, plaintiff’s CEO alleged that, during that visit, the expert “verbally informed me that he agreed with my assessment that the bearings and friction paper sold to [plaintiff] by [defendant] were defective and were the cause of the damage not only to the torque converters but also to the transmissions to which the torque converters were attached.”

The plaintiff’s CEO also allegedly stated in his affidavit that, following the expert’s visit, the CEO had received a phone call from an adjuster with defendant’s insurer, who “read to me portions of the [expert’s] report indicating [the expert’s] opinion that the bearings and friction paper were defective and were the cause of the loss and damage to [plaintiff] and to its customers.”

Defendant didn’t identify the expert who made the 2009 trip to plaintiff’s place of business as one it intended to call at trial, effectively keeping the expert’s opinions from being discoverable under the premise that he was a consulting, not a testifying expert.

Plaintiff had other ideas, however. Based in part on its theory that the expert’s statements to plaintiff’s CEO waived discovery protection provided under FRCP 26, plaintiff tried to convince the court that it should be allowed to take the deposition of the defendant’s expert anyway.

The Expert Issues

At issue in plaintiff’s motion were (1) whether the opinions of the defendant’s expert, who had not been designated as a testifying witness, were discoverable, and (2) if the expert’s opinions were not discoverable, did statements allegedly made by the expert operate as a waiver of any applicable discovery protection or privilege?
Touchy Topics

In its ruling, the court hit on two touchy topics.

1. When, if ever, are opinions held by an expert, who has been retained but not designated as a testifying witness, discoverable by an opposing party?

Generally speaking, FRCP 26(b)(4)(D) protects from discovery by an opposing party facts known or opinions held by a non-testifying expert retained in anticipation of litigation, who is not expected to be called as a witness at trial.

However, FRCP 26 allows for certain discovery of non-testifying experts upon a showing of “exceptional circumstances” – if it is “impracticable for the other party to obtain facts or opinions on the same subject by other means” – which the party seeking such discovery bears the burden of showing.

Noting that a premise of the rule protecting an opposing a party’s consulting expert from discovery is fairness and, quoting the S.D. of New York, “allowing counsel to obtain the expert advice they need . . . without fear that every consultation with an expert may yield grist for the adversary’s mill,” the court found no such exceptional circumstances here. Plaintiff could gain equivalent information though its own experts and had, in fact, retained an expert who it intended to call at trial.

The court also noted the absence of facts other courts have found demonstrative of exceptional circumstances – for example changed conditions that would prevent a first-hand observation by more than one party’s expert.  But the court differentiated the case here, stating, “There are no circumstances preventing [plaintiff’s] expert from examining the parts first hand and thereby acquiring the same information gathered by [defendant’s expert].” Therefore, plaintiff failed to establish the requisite “extraordinary circumstances” under FRCP 26 needed to depose defendant’s non-testifying, consulting expert.

With that question behind it, the court ventured on to a more vexing issue.

2. Did statements made by defendant’s expert operate as a waiver of discovery protections afforded a non-testifying expert under 26(b)(4)(D)?

Plaintiff asserted that the statements made by defendant’s expert and defendant’s insurer waived discovery protections afforded non-testifying experts under FRCP 26(b)(4)(D).

The court recognized that whether statements made to third parties can act to waive the privilege is not well-settled, stating, “It is unclear . . . whether the waiver doctrine applies to Rule 26(b)(4)(D).”

Interestingly, some courts have determined that when a party’s non-testifying expert is protected under FRCP 26(b)(4)(D), that protection is not subject to waiver. Here the court cited a decision out of the E.D. of Pennsylvania which concluded that, because FRCP26(b)(4)(D) stems from fairness concerns – not the work product doctrine – the question of whether a party has waived discovery protections with regard to a non-testifying expert was irrelevant.

However, the court cited instances where other federal courts have suggested exactly the opposite – that the protections under FRCP 26(b)(4)(D) can, in fact, be waived (citing a case out of the N.D. of Indiana, which noted that courts have found waiver “when the holder of a privilege ‘voluntarily discloses . . . any significant part of the privileged matter’”).

The court here concluded that defendant did not waive the discovery protection under FRCP 26(b)(4)(D), stating, “It appears dubious that the waiver doctrine applies to the protections afforded to facts known or opinions held by non-testifying consulting experts.”

Regardless, the court found an escape hatch from further debate on the issue when it aligned itself with courts that have rejected waiver arguments based on actions taken by those who are not a “holder of the privilege” – the holder here being the defendant, not the defendant’s expert.

In doing so, the court made a crucial distinction: In this instance the party didn’t make the disclosures, rather, the party’s expert and insurer made the disclosures. The court concluded, “These disclosures do not constitute a waiver of the protections of Rule 26(b)(4)(D) because only [defendant], as holder of the protections, could waive them.”

In the end, the court decided that the opinions held by defendant’s non-testifying, consulting expert were not discoverable under any of the plaintiff’s theories.

The citation to the Order Regarding Motion to Compel is Precision of New Hampton, Inc. v. Tri Component Products Corp., No. C12-2020 (N.D. Iowa, June 5, 2013).

Do you agree with this court’s ruling?  Add comments



Maggie Tamburro, JD, IMS ExpertServices - RF CafeMaggie Tamburro is an attorney, legal writer and commentator who holds a B.A. from The University of Texas and a J.D. from The John Marshall Law School. Maggie graduated 5th in her class from John Marshall, served as Law Review Associate Editor, and was awarded the Dean's Scholarship Award for three consecutive years. Maggie holds the position of Senior Copywriter at IMS ExpertServices, where she handles the creation and optimization of webpage copy, print material language, and plays an active role in the company’s online social media strategy. Maggie was admitted to the Illinois Bar in 1994 and Florida Bar in 1999 and has significant experience in legal research, editing, and writing. From drafting complex commercial transactional documents to journalistic reporting, Maggie brings a unique blend of background, experience, and perspective to IMS in both the area of law and writing.

 




IMS Expert Services is the premier expert witness and litigation consultant search firm in the legal industry. IMS is focused exclusively on providing custom expert witness search services. We are proud to be the choice of over 95 of the AmLaw Top 100. Call us at 877-838-8464.



Related Pages on RF Cafe
- Do You Need an Expert to Sue an Expert?
- What the #!$% Is Bitcoin?
- Dilbert Versus Daubert - Which Standard Controls in Patent Design Cases?
- Lack of Expert Leads to Reversal of Patent Case
- Excluding Expert Testimony the Jury Already Heard
- 7th Circuit Excoriates Lawyers, Judges for 'Fear of Science'
- Federal Circuit Ponders Abandoning De Novo Review
- Apple, Samsung Daubert Docs Should Have Been Sealed, Federal Circuit Rules
- When an Expert's Testimony Counters His Own Report
- Fortune Telling & Reliability? An Expert Testimony Enigma
- Can Expert Statements Inadvertently Waive Protection?
- E- Discovery: 10 Strategic Steps for Defensible Search
- The 'Almighty' Federal Circuit? Evolving Patent Policy & Jurisprudence
- A Scientific Weapon for the Courtroom?
- Experts Face Fewer Challenges in Court, Survey Says
- Death of the ITC?
- No Appeal for Expert Witness 'Third Wheel'
- Patent Trolls on Trial?
- To Testify or Not to Testify: Re-Designating An Expert Witness?
- The Future of Predictive Coding (Part II) – Caveats Revealed
- The Future of Predictive Coding - Rise of the Evidentiary Expert?
- Think Before You Click - Facebook’s "Like" Button
- A Siri-ous Affair?
- Denial of Cert in "Junk Science" Case Leaves Lawyers Reeling
- A Peek "Under the Hood" of America Invents
- 10 Predictions for Litigation in 2012
- Attorneys Turn to iPads to Prepare and Question Experts
- Two Mistakes That Can Produce Tragedy in Patent Litigation
- Opposing Experts & Summary Judgment
- Could IBM’s Watson Make Experts Obsolete?
- An Expert's Change of Mind Can Be Shattering
- Why Do They Call Us Expert Witnesses? Part II
- Why Do They Call Us Expert Witnesses? Part I
- Bilski's Lesson: Avoid Abstraction
- Expert Secrecy: An Ethics Dilemma?
- New Federal Rule on Experts Takes Effect Dec. 1, 2010


Posted  August 16, 2013
A Disruptive Web Presence

Custom Search
Over 10,000 pages indexed! (none duped or pirated)

Read About RF Cafe
Webmaster: Kirt Blattenberger
    KB3UON

RF Cafe Software

RF Cascade Workbook
RF Cascade Workbook is a very extensive system cascaded component Excel workbook that includes the standard Gain, NF, IP2, IP3, Psat calculations, input & output VSWR, noise BW, min/max tolerance, DC power cauculations, graphing of all RF parameters, and has a graphical block diagram tool. An extensive User's Guide is also included. - Only $35.
RF system analysis including
frequency conversion & filters

RF & EE Symbols Word
RF Stencils for Visio

Product & Service Directory
Personally Selected Manufacturers
RF Cafe T-Shirts & Mugs

RF Cafe Software

Calculator Workbook
RF Workbench
Smith Chart™ for Visio
Smith Chart™ for Excel