Can a ‘skeletal’ expert report comply with FRCP 26?

BVWireIssue #58-3
July 25, 2007

In the wake of hurricane Katrina, a Louisiana veterinary hospital sues its insurance company for failing to fully compensate its business interruption losses.  Discovery deadlines are set in the case, including disclosure of expert reports pursuant to Rule 26(a)(2)(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (requiring a “complete statement of all opinions to be expressed and the basis and reasons therefore,” the data and any exhibits to be used by the witness).   Inexplicably, the insurance company submits a report that is not signed by the expert (it’s even unclear whether he wrote it).  The report contains columns of figures without any conclusions or defined sources; it’s also missing exhibits and a list of the expert’s qualifications.  The hospital moves to strike the report for failing to comply with FRCP 26.

The United States District Court (E.D. La.) agrees that the “skeletal” report merely provides notice that the insurance company intends to rely on its expert, and fails to substantially comply with the federal rules. But the expert’s testimony is “pivotal” to the defense—and the Court gives the insurance company ten days to comply (plus the penalty of paying for the plaintiff’s deposition of the expert).  To read the full-text opinion of Audubon Veterinary Hospital v. U.S. Fidelity & Guarantee Co. (June 25, 2007), click here.

More importantly: The Federal Rules have recently been amended to include the discovery and disclosure of electronic evidence.  To comply with all of their requirements, don’t miss *today’s* teleconference on “Emerging Issues in Electronic Evidence, Document Retention and Spoliation for BVFLS Practitioners” with experts Ron Seigneur, Melinda Harper, Shari Lutz and attorney Ed Aro. To register, click here.

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