United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER GRANTING RELIEF FROM EXPERT DISCLOSURE
S. LASNIK UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court on plaintiff's
“Motion Requesting Relief from Deadline for Disclosure
of Expert Witnesses.” Dkt. # 11. For the reasons
explained below, the motion is GRANTED.
case arises out of a dispute between plaintiff, Hua Ye, and
her insurer, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company
(“State Farm”), over how much value her
Lamborghini lost when an uninsured motorist crashed into it
in an April 2015 hit-and-run accident. Dkt. # 1-5. After the
accident, plaintiff invoked her insurance policy's
uninsured motorist provision, and in the fall of 2015 the
parties exchanged appraisals calculating how much value her
car had lost. State Farm's appraiser Rob Marinelli placed
the recoverable value loss $76, 285 below what Ms. Ye's
appraiser calculated. State Farm ultimately rejected the
calculations of Ms. Ye's appraiser, and paid out the
amount determined by Mr. Marinelli.
October 2016, Ms. Ye filed a complaint in state court, which
State Farm removed to this Court, alleging breach of
contract, bad faith, and violations of Washington's
Insurance Fair Conduct Act. Dkt. # 1-5. The Court set a
deadline of July 12, 2017, for submitting expert witnesses
and reports. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(a)(2). On that day,
State Farm submitted a diminished-value report from a new
appraiser, which said Ms. Ye could recover $37, 250 more than
the amount in Mr. Marinelli's report. Plaintiff later
discovered that Mr. Marinelli and his company had been the
subject of a June 2016 order from the Washington State
Insurance Commissioner directing them to cease and desist
from performing insurance-claim appraisals, because neither
Mr. Marinelli nor his company's relevant appraisers had
adjuster licenses issued by the Commissioner. See
Dkt. # 13-2. The following month, plaintiff counsel asked to
submit a report from an insurance expert opining on the
implications of State Farm relying on Mr. Marinelli's
report. Defense counsel refused because the deadline for
submitting expert material had passed. Shortly before the
discovery cutoff, plaintiff filed the instant motion seeking
relief from the expert-disclosure deadline in order to
include in the record expert evidence from Mary Owen, an
attorney who plaintiff offers as an insurance expert.
Rule of Civil Procedure 26 requires disclosure of the expert
witnesses and reports that a party intends to rely on at
trial. Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(a)(2)(A)-(C). Rule 26 also requires
that a party “make these disclosures at the times and
in the sequence that the court orders.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
26(a)(2)(D). If disclosure is untimely, the disclosing party
may not use that expert material “to supply evidence on
a motion, at a hearing, or at a trial, unless the failure was
substantially justified or is harmless.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
37(c)(1). Whether to exclude untimely expert disclosures,
however, “is not a strictly mechanical exercise,
” Esposito v. Home Depot U.S.A., Inc., 590
F.3d 72, 77 (1st Cir. 2009) (citation omitted), and those
decisions account for the importance of the evidence at
issue, an extension's impact on a court's docket, and
“the public policy favoring disposition of cases on
their merits, ” Galentine v. Holland Am.
Line-Westours, Inc., 333 F.Supp.2d 991, 993 (W.D. Wash.
Court concludes the circumstances here warrant an extension
for plaintiff to seek expert evidence on the implications of
State Farm relying on the Marinelli report. Plaintiff
discovered the state administrative proceedings against Mr.
Marinelli on or after the expert-disclosure deadline. The
implications of relying on an unlicensed appraiser's
report could have particular significance for a bad faith
claim that alleges an insurer failed to conduct a reasonable
investigation. Excluding relevant evidence on that question
would ignore “the public policy favoring disposition of
cases on their merits.” Galentine, 333
F.Supp.2d at 993. Furthermore, this case has no history of
onerous continuances or deadline violations. Discovery is not
complex. No dispositive motions have been filed, and the
parties appear to still have outstanding depositions
according to their briefs. State Farm claims it will suffer
harm from having to rebut the additional evidence this
extension allows, but the Civil Rules provide a party with 30
days following an expert-material disclosure to in turn
disclose expert material in rebuttal. Fed.R.Civ.P.
26(a)(2)(D)(ii). Given this case's posture and the time
State Farm will have to respond, the Court concludes the
potential harm to State Farm is not severe enough to warrant
foregoing reasons, plaintiff's motion is GRANTED.
Plaintiff will have until October 9, 2017, to disclose
additional Rule 26(a)(2) expert material; State Farm will
have until November 8, 2017, to disclose rebuttal expert
material, see Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(a)(2)(D)(ii); and the
deadline for completion of discovery is continued until
November 23, 2017.
Court will issue a separate case management order detailing
this disposition's impact on remaining case deadlines.
 The parties also disagree over whether
Ms. Owens may opine on the reasonableness of defendant's
actions during litigation. That disagreement is irrelevant to
the question of whether discovery ought to be continued, and
the parties ...