Motion 22-Motion to Bar 213f Disclosures in Car Accident Case
Now comes the defendants, by their attorneys, and moves this court to bar the testimony of the plaintiff's retained expert ____________ . In support of this motion, they state:
1. Rule 213 (f)(3) provides:
(3) Controlled Expert Witness. A “controlled expert witness” is a person giving expert testimony who is the party, the party's current employee, or the party's retained expert. For each controlled expert witness, the party must identify: (i) the subject matter on which the witness will testify; (ii) the conclusions and opinions of the witness and the bases therefor; (iii) the qualifications of the witness; and (iv) any reports prepared by the witness about the case.
Disclosures under this rule are mandatory, and strict compliance is required. Petre v. Kucich , 331 Ill.App.3d 935, 947 (2002). If proper disclosures are not made, it is appropriate to bar the expert from testifying. Huelsmann v. Berkowitz , 210 Ill.App.3d 806, 810 (1991).
2. The plaintiff has filed a Rule 213 (f) disclosure, identifying two experts, Stephen Strzelec and John T. Steinkamp. A copy of this disclosure is attached hereto. The defendants ask that Mr. Steinkamp's testimony be barred because the disclosure, as to him, is substantially deficient.
3. The disclosures of Mr. Steinkamp's qualifications and the bases for his opinions consists, in its entirety, of two sentences:
Mr. Steinkamp will give opinions regarding State Farm's handling of the claim arising out of the automobile accident on September 4, 1998 involving Readell Taylor and Michael Matricard. Mr. Steinkamp is an attorney with experience and knowledge regarding insurance regulations and his opinions will be based upon his experience and knowledge of statutory and regulatory standards applicable to property and casualty claim handling and his review of documents.
The only qualifications disclosed for Mr. Steinkamp are that he is an attorney with knowledge of insurance regulations. Yet four of the five opinions that Mr. Steinkamp proposes to give have nothing to do with insurance regulations. There is nothing in the disclosure that tells the defendants what qualifications Mr. Steinkamp has to give these opinions.
4. To the extent that Mr. Steinkamp's opinions do involve insurance regulations, they are improper conclusions of law. An expert may not testify to conclusions of law. LID Associates v.Dolan , 324 Ill.App.3d 1047 (2001) ; Sohaey v. Van Ana , 240 Ill.App.3d 266, 283 (1993) ; Christian v. Arlington Park Race Track , 104 Ill.App.3d 257, 261 (1982) ; Dowe's Laboratories v. Commercial Ins. Co. , 19 Ill.App.3d 1039, 1050 (1974).
5. With respect to the bases for Mr. Steinkamp's opinions, the disclosures states only that they are based on his experience and knowledge and his review of documents. We are not told what documents he reviewed. This is far from an adequate disclosure.
In Petre v. Kucich, supra, the appellate court held that testimony concerning a study performed by the expert witness was properly excluded, where the results of the study were disclosed, but the underlying data and protocols were not. The court stated:
As plaintiffs correctly point out, defendants' failure to disclose the protocols and data underlying the Elmhurst study denied plaintiffs the opportunity both to have their own experts evaluate the study and to appropriately cross-examine Dr. Hirsch.
331 Ill.App.3d at 948.
5. Mr. Steinkamp opines that the liability was obvious, and that State Farm's investigation was not timely. No one reading the disclosures would have any idea what the bases for these opinions are.
6. The opinions disclosed are:
1. State Farm ignored the advice of its own insurance adjusters and legal counsel. Indeed, State Farm's own attorney said, “we are screwed.” Further, State Farm's own legal counsel said liability was obvious.
2. State Farm failed to investigate various pertinent factors in this case. Further, State Farm's investigation was not timely.
3. Despite obvious liability and obvious potential exposure, State Farm continued to litigate the case.
4. Despite obvious liability as recognized by State Farm's own legal counsel, State Farm did not make an offer until just before trial.
5. Furthermore, bad faith can be found in numerous violations of the Act that prohibits unfair claims settlement practices. The facts discussed above as well as the other facts in this case represent multiple violations of the unfair claims settlement practices act. Thus, State Farm's conduct constitutes bad faith from this angle as well.
These opinions are far too vague and non-specific to comply with the Rule.
7. In Heulsmann v. Berkowitz , 210 Ill.App.3d 806, 810 (1991), the court explained one of the reasons for the disclosures of an expert's opinion:
But, in addition, if further discovery is to be pursued, the responses allow preparation for the expert's deposition. Without knowledge of the general factual opinion held by the expert, opposing counsel is precluded from adequately preparing for his examination of the expert. With adequate preparation, the questions can be brief and to the point, again saving time and money.
8. The disclosures in this case are of no use in helping defendants prepare for Mr. Steinkamp's deposition. Opinion No. 2 is that “State Farm failed to investigate various pertinent factors in this case.” What factors? The defendants should not have to guess.
No. 3 states, “Despite obvious liability and obvious potential exposure ...” What made these things obvious? The defendants should not have to guess.
No. 5 states that “bad faith can be found in numerous violations of the Act that prohibits unfair claims practices.” What violations? And what Act? The defendants should not have to guess.
The court's comments in Huelsmann, supra at 810, are applicable here:
We believe that the answer was no more than a blanket statement that defendant's expert would testify favorably for the defendant. It is impossible to determine what opinions were to be expressed by the expert. This response does not disclose the factual basis of the expert's opinion.
9. Because the plaintiff has not adequately disclosed Mr. Steinkamp's qualifications, his opinions, or the bases for those opinions, he should be barred from testifying at trial.