United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
TOP NOTCH SOLUTIONS, INC. and ROBERT RASHIDI, Plaintiffs,
CROUSE AND ASSOCIATES INSURANCE BROKERS, INC. et al., Defendants.
ORDER ON MCGRIFF, SEIBELS & WILLIAMS,
INC.’S MOTION TO EXCLUDE
L. ROBART, United States District Judge
the court is Defendant McGriff, Seibels & Williams,
Inc.’s (“MSW”) motion to exclude Plaintiffs
Top Notch Solutions, Inc.’s (“Top Notch”)
and Robert Rashidi’s (collectively,
“Plaintiffs”) expert witnesses. (See
Mot. (Dkt. # 178).) Plaintiffs filed a response. (Resp. (Dkt.
# 195).) MSW filed a reply. (Reply (Dkt. # 199).)
The court has reviewed the motion, the parties’
submissions concerning the motion, the relevant portions of
the record, and the applicable law. Being fully advised, the
court GRANTS in part and DENIES in part MSW’s
motion. Specifically, the court grants the motion
to exclude Dr. Bradford, and denies the motion to exclude Dr.
Rashidi marketed commercial automobile liability insurance
policies to taxicab businesses and other for-hire drivers
operating in King County, Washington through his company, Top
Notch. (See FAC (Dkt. # 90) ¶ 3.2.2.) Top Notch
and Crouse entered into a brokerage agreement in 2010.
(See Moore Decl. (Dkt. # 8) ¶ 3, Ex. 1
(“Brokerage Agreement”).) Pursuant to the
Brokerage Agreement, Crouse obtained insurance plans from
nonparty insurance carriers for Top Notch’s clients.
(See Id . at 2.) In 2013, MSW, a Top Notch competitor,
contracted with Crouse “to develop a new underwriting
model for the procurement of insurance for associations like
the [Western Washington Taxicab Operators Association
(‘WWTCOA’)], ” a voluntary advocacy group
comprised of taxicab and for-hire drivers. (See
McGinnis Decl. (Dkt. # 155) ¶ 6; 1st Bedard Decl. (Dkt.
# 156) ¶ 3, Ex. A (“WWTCOA Dep.”) at
18:11-20:8; Brucker Decl. (Dkt. # 161) ¶ 2, Ex. 1
(“MSW Program Communications”) at 9.)
contend that Crouse and MSW intended for their arrangement to
divert business away from Top Notch and other local brokers
(see FAC ¶¶ 3.3.3, & 3.3.7), and to
establish a monopoly (see Id . ¶¶ 3.3.21,
3.4.5, 3.4.18). Plaintiffs further contend that Defendant MSW
harmed Plaintiffs’ reputation through statements in a
WWTCOA newsletter and other negative communications to Top
Notch clients. (See Id . ¶ 4.3.3; MSW MSJ Resp.
(Dkt. # 160) at 11-13; 1st Bedard Decl. ¶ 18, Ex. O
(“Fare Times Newsletter”).) Plaintiffs allege
that Defendant Pucin is an unlicensed collection agency that
unlawfully attempted to collect Top Notch’s debts to
Crouse and that Pucin’s collection efforts caused
Humble & Davenport, Mr. Rashidi’s subsequent
employer, to terminate him. (See FAC ¶¶
3.5.1-3.5.3; Pucin MSJ Resp. (Dkt. # 183) at 4-5 (citing
Davenport Decl. (Dkt. # 174-1) ¶¶ 12-13).)
denies Plaintiffs’ allegations and contends that any
harm Plaintiffs suffered is attributable to their own legal
violations uncovered by Office of the Insurance Commissioner
(“OIC”) investigations. (See MSW MSJ
(Dkt. # 154) at 25-26.) The OIC investigated Top Notch on
September 5, 2014, and gave Top Notch an
“Unacceptable” result, finding Top Notch out of
compliance with four out of five compliance items.
(See 1st Bedard Decl. ¶ 6, Ex. D (“1st
OIC Report”) at 11, 21.) The OIC investigated Top Notch
again on February 5, 2015, concluded that Top Notch had
corrected only one of the five compliance issues, and
converted Plaintiffs’ insurance producer licenses to
probationary licenses that required Top Notch “to have
an appropriate accounting system with sufficient detail to
track its financial transactions related to premium (sic) in
place.” (See 1st Bedard Decl. ¶ 7, Ex. E
(“OIC Reinvestigation Report”) at 23, 39;
id. ¶ 9, Ex. G (“1st Consent
Order”) at 85.) On April 28, 2017, the OIC issued an
order finding that Plaintiffs violated the conditions of
their probationary licenses and revoking Top Notch and Mr.
Rashidi’s licenses. (See Id . ¶ 12, Ex. J
(“2nd Revocation Order”) at 98.) On October 2,
2017, the parties entered a second consent order in which the
OIC rescinded the 2nd Revocation Order. (See Id .
¶ 13, Ex. K (“2nd Consent Order”) at
108-09.) In exchange, Mr. Rashidi and Top Notch voluntarily
relinquished their licenses. (See id.) Mr. Rashidi
subsequently made a career change and began working in real
estate. (See Id . ¶ 26, Ex. W (“Rashidi
Dep.”) at 84:23-85:15.)
maintain two claims against MSW: (1) defamation and (2)
intentional interference with business expectancy.
(See FAC ¶ 4.3; 5/30/2018 Order (Dkt. # 86) at
1.) Plaintiffs’ sole claim against Pucin is for a
Washington Consumer Protection Act (“CPA”)
violation based on noncompliance with Section 110 of the
Washington Collection Agency Act (“WCAA”).
(See FAC ¶¶ 4.4-4.5; 11/07/2017 Order
(Dkt. # 38) at 14 (citing RCW 19.16.110).)
moves to exclude Plaintiffs’ expert witnesses, William
Bradford and C. Frederick DeKay. The court first examines the
legal standard for motions to exclude expert testimony, then
applies that standard to Dr. Bradford and Dr. DeKay.
Legal Standard for CFL’s Motions to Exclude
Rule of Evidence 702 governs the admission of expert
testimony in federal court:
A witness who is qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill,
experience, training, or education may testify in the form of
an opinion or otherwise if:
(a) the expert’s scientific, technical, or other
specialized knowledge will help the trier of fact to
understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue;
(b) the testimony is based on sufficient facts or data;
(c) the testimony is the product of reliable principles and
(d) the expert has reliably applied the principles and
methods to the ...