In 'Chattree' and 'Burstein' Experts Become Fair Game in Discovery Disputes


Chattree v. Chattree, 2014 Ohio App. LEXIS 479 (Feb. 13, 2014)
Burstein v. Burstein, 2014 Ill. App. Unpub. LEXIS 245 (Feb. 13, 2014)
It wasn't personal, but it made for a trying experience for the expert. In two recent and ugly divorce cases, the husbands used discovery to thwart the wives' efforts to value their interests in their businesses. This meant limiting the wife''s expert's access to vital financial and corporate information. The two experts handled the snags differently. One expert basically shrugged his shoulder and walked away with the result that the trial and appeals courts blamed the less-than-favorable outcome for the wife on his underperformance. “If I had something else from your expert other than ‘I don’t know what the fair market value is,’ then you’d be in a better position, but that’s not what I got” is what the trial court said to the wife when she argued against the court's using the buyout formula in its valuation.
In the second case, the expert refused to let himself be derailed. He only sat for deposition after he had obtained sufficient information to give informed valuation testimony, and in his report he explained what his valuation was and what it was not given the limitations operating on him. Not only did his work hold up in court, but also both the trial and appeals court blamed any valuation inaccuracy on the husband.  If there was an error, they said, the husband invited it.
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