Court excludes valuation expert by mistake

BVWireIssue #259-3
April 17, 2024

marital dissolution/divorce
divorce, expert testimony, spousal support, motion in limine, trial court

In an Ohio divorce matter, an appellate court has remanded a case back to the trial court because it “abused its discretion” when it excluded a valuation expert’s testimony and report.

Do-over: The case involves a husband’s optometry practice, which his initial expert valued at $222,000 while the wife’s expert came in at $960,000. The trial court found both valuations flawed but favored the least-flawed valuation in agreeing with the higher value the wife’s expert concluded. In his first appeal, the husband argued that the lower court did not address the flaws it saw in the wife’s valuation, and the appellate court agreed, remanding it back to the trial court, which instructed the parties to get a joint expert for a new valuation or “retool” the existing ones.

The wife kept her original expert, but the husband engaged a new expert who concluded a value of $300,000, testifying that the opposing valuation was inflated due to some discounts to insurance payers that did not occur in other years (extraordinary items). But, believing that there was an objection to introducing new evidence, the trial court excluded the testimony and report of the husband’s new expert, so it accepted the wife’s valuation.

Another do-over: The husband appealed again, arguing that there was no objection to the new evidence or the new expert. The appellate court agreed, finding the court made a “reversible error” and ruled that, “because the trial court rendered judgment without examining all the evidence contained in the record, we must reverse the Amended Decree and remand for further proceedings.” The trial court mistakenly excluded the new valuation expert and must consider the expert’s testimony and report.

The case is Miller v. Miller, 2024-Ohio-821; 2024 Ohio App. LEXIS 773; 2024 WL 986859, and a case analysis and full court opinion are on the BVLaw platform.

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