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Arizona District Court Excludes Expert Opinion Regarding Insurer’s State of Mind

The Holding

In Hunton v. American Zurich Ins. Co., 2018 WL 1182550 (D. Ariz. Mar. 7, 2018), an insurance bad faith case arising from a workers compensation claim, the Arizona District Court excluded an Insured’s expert opinion that the Insurer’s alleged “claims handling failures” were “pervasive enough to support the conclusion that upper management had to have known of, and approved, the [alleged] deficient staffing levels, inadequate training, inadequate oversight by middle management, and the ethics-related lapses related to the financial incentives granted to employees.”

The Takeaway

Insurers should move to strike Insured experts’ opinions regarding Insurers’ alleged state of mind in Arizona bad faith cases.

The Rationale

The District Court excluded the Insured expert’s opinion regarding the Insurer’s state of mind primarily because:

• “Courts routinely exclude as impermissible expert testimony as to intent, motive, or state of mind.” Hunton, 2018 WL 1182550 * 2.

• “Expert testimony as to intent, motive, or state of mind offers no more than the drawing of an inference from the facts of the case. The jury is sufficiently capable of drawing its own inferences regarding intent, motive, or state of mind from the evidence…” Id.

• “Permitting expert testimony on [intent, motive, or state of mind] would merely be substituting the expert’s judgment for the jury’s and would not be helpful to the jury.” Id.

This and other posts can be found at my blawg: Arizona Bad Faith Blawg.

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