United States District Court, D. Rhode Island
J. McConnell, Jr. United States District Judge
Court need not remind the parties of the circuitous route
this case has taken. Even after all of the decisions from
trial and appellate courts at both the state and federal
level, there are still unresolved issues rooted in an
astounding disconnect between the parties' views of the
breadth and depth of the Policy's coverage and how to
determine what IDC's damages are. It has become clear to
the Court that the parties must test their evidence and
argument before a fact finder who is uniquely equipped to
determine coverage under the Policy and the amount, if any,
of damages IDC should recover. The question then is: will
IDC's expert opinion be helpful to the fact finder in
rendering its verdict such that the Court can find it
admissible under Federal Rules of Evidence, Rule 702?
M. Scotti, a real estate appraiser, prepared a report in
support of IDC Properties Inc.'s pursuit of the proceeds
of a title insurance policy (Policy) it purchased from
Defendant Chicago Title Insurance Company. Mr. Scotti opines
about the value of IDC's airspace units and provides a
dollar value he believes IDC is due. The Court previously
excluded Mr. Scotti's report on two grounds, ruling that
its valuation, opinion was unreliable because it
impermissibly assumed that the Declaration of Condominium
document (Declaration) complied with the unanimous consent
requirement of the Rhode Island Condominium Act to value any
new construction on the North, South and West units and that
the correct loss measurement date was December 1997.
Court granted IDC leave to file a revised appraisal to
reflect its rulings. Mr. Scotti produced a revised appraisal to
which Chicago Title again moves in limine on essentially the
same grounds. ECF No. 128. Because the Court finds that Mr.
Scotti's revised report cures the previously identified
defects such that it is now the fact finder's turn to
weigh the credibility and weight owed Mr. Scotti's
opinion, the Court denies Chicago Title's motion.
court's review of the admissibility of an expert
witness' testimony is guided by Rule 702 of the Federal
Rules of Evidence. Rule 702, which codified a line of United
States Supreme Court cases including Daubert v. Merrill
Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., states:
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 facts of the case.
See also Daubert v. Merrill Dow Pharm., Inc., 509
U.S. 579 (1993). The court "serves as the gatekeeper for
expert testimony by 'ensuring that [it]... both rests on
a reliable foundation and is relevant to the task at
hand.'" Milward v. Rust-Oleum Corp., 820
F.3d 469, 473 (1st Cir. 2016) (quoting Daubert, 509
U.S. at 597). The court's role is to evaluate the expert
testimony's admissibility, as opposed to its weight.
See Ruiz-Troche v. Pepsi-Cola of PR. Bottling Co.,
161 F.3d 77, 85 (1st Cir. 1998) (weight determination is for
the fact finder to make). "A district court may exclude
expert testimony where it finds that the testimony has no
foundation or rests on obviously incorrect assumptions or
speculative evidence." Casas Office Macb., Inc. v.
Mita Copy star Am., Inc., 42 F.3d 668, 681 (1st Cir.
court's inquiry "is a flexible one, and there is no
particular procedure that the trial court is required to
follow in executing its gatekeeping function."
United States v. Diaz, 300 F.3d 66, 73 (1st Cir.
2002) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). The
court's focus should be on the methodology employed, not
on the expert's conclusions. Daubert, 509 U.S.
at 595. "In short, Daubert neither requires nor
empowers trial courts to determine which of several competing
scientific theories has the best provenance."
Ruiz-Troche, 161 F.3d at 85. "As long as an
expert's scientific testimony rests upon 'good
grounds, based on what is known, ' it should be tested by
the adversary process-competing expert testimony and active
cross-examination-rather than, excluded .from jurors'
scrutiny for fear that they will not grasp its complexities
or satisfactorily weigh its inadequacies." Id.
(quoting Daubert, 509 U.S. at 590).
these principles in mind, the Court will summarize Mr.
Scotti's revised report and evaluate the parties'