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T. Thomas Metier
T. Thomas Metier
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Why Would the Testimony of an Expert Be Excluded in a Case?

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Attorney Tom MetierIn a case dealing with the two-year exclusion period in Amica Life Insurance Co. v. Wertz, United States District Court, D., Colorado, takes on the question of expert testimony.

Martin K. Fisher (“Fisher”) had a life insurance policy with Amica Life Insurance Company (“Amica”). Michael Wertz (“Wertz”) was the named beneficiary of the policy. Fisher’s policy with Amica did not provide benefits if suicide occurred within two years of the policy activation. The policy was issued in January of 2014. Fisher committed suicide in March of 2015, within the two-year exclusion. Amica has denied Wertz’s claim for Fisher’s death benefit. Wertz has counter-sued, claiming the exclusion is unenforceable. Wertz contends Colorado Revised Statutes § 10-7-109 controls this matter. That statute only permits one-year suicide exclusions, and Fisher’s suicide took place more than one year after his policy issued.

Wertz amended his complaint and got an expert opinion from John Kezer regarding matters at issue. Amica moved to exclude Kezer’s opinion as inadmissible under Federal Rule of Evidence 702, because it is opinions about the law, not explanation of facts in light of governing law. The Court recounts the Federal Rule of Evidence 702, and analyzes Kezer’s opinion as an expert in the light of the Federal Rule’s criteria. The Court said an expert’s testimony is not inadmissible just because it requires discussion of the law. The Court can admit expert evidence on standards in a particular industry. In this case, Wertz raised the question of whether the Colorado Legislature had time to look at and potentially opt out of the standards on suicide exclusion, but Kezer gave nothing useful on how the legislature decides. Kezer did no more than render an opinion on precisely the topic he was retained to render an opinion: whether Colorado Revised Statutes § 10-7-109 or the Interstate Standards control in this case. That is a question of law for the Court, not expert testimony. Amica’s motion was granted.

The Metier Law Firm is committed to assisting people with personal injury claims throughout Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska, and we frequently serve as co-counsel to law firms nationwide. Tom Metier recently secured the largest personal injury verdict in Colorado.