United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Southern Division
ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART MOTION TO
EXCLUDE EXPERT TESTIMONY OF WILLIAM D. HAGER
GUIROLA, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
THE COURT is the  Motion to Exclude William D. Hager as
an Expert Witness, filed by Southwest Business Corporation,
d/b/a Insurance Partners and USAA Insurance Agency, Inc. The
Motion has been joined by American Zurich Insurance Company
 and the issues have been fully briefed. After due
consideration, the Court finds that the Motion should be
granted in part and denied in part.
plaintiff American Zurich Insurance Company filed this
Complaint for Declaratory Judgment claiming that its insured,
Guilbeaux, made material misrepresentations that justify
rescission of the policy, and requests that the Court declare
the policy void under Mississippi law. Guilbeaux designated
William D. Hager as his expert concerning the industry
standards and duties owed by the three insurance companies
involved in this case. Hager is an attorney who has extensive
experience working in and for the insurance industry and in
regulating the insurance industry. The insurance companies
have moved to strike Hagar's expert opinions, claiming
that they constitute nothing more than legal opinions, and
that they are based on insufficient evidence.
702 of the Federal Rules of Evidence establishes the
following standards for determining whether expert testimony
(a) the expert's scientific, technical, or other
specialized knowledge [must] help the trier of fact to
understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue;
(b) the testimony [must be] based on sufficient facts or
(c) the testimony [must be] the product of reliable
principles and methods; and
(d) the expert [must have] reliably applied the principles
and methods to the facts of the case.
Fed. R. Evid. 702. Rule 704(a) states that opinion testimony
“otherwise admissible is not objectionable because it
includes an ultimate issue to be decided by the trier of
fact.” “Neither rule, however, permits expert
witnesses to offer conclusions of law.” C.P.
Interests, Inc. v. Ca. Pools, Inc., 238 F.3d 690, 697
(5th Cir.2001) (citing Owen v. Kerr McGee Corp., 698
F.2d 236, 240 (5th Cir.1983)). Proposed expert testimony
which offers a legal opinion is inadmissible, Estate of
Sowell v. United States, 198 F.3d 169, 171 (5th
Cir. 1999), because it does not “help the trier of fact
to understand the evidence or determine a fact in issue . . .
.” Fed.R.Evid. 702(a).
Court has carefully reviewed the opinion portion of
Hager's report. There are a few sentences describing the
relationship of an insurer and its agents, (See Mot.
to Exclude Ex. 1, at 11, ECF No. 81-1), and a few sentences
describing an agent's obligation to advise a potential
insured when there will be no coverage. (See id. at
12). These statements are admissible because they might
assist the jury in understanding relevant industry standards,
but Hager may not “draw conclusions from those
standards.” Jones v. Reynolds, 2:06-CV-57-SA,
2008 WL 2095679, *12 (N.D. Miss. May 16, 2008).
majority of Hager's opinions draw legal conclusions. He
opines that Zurich breached its duty of good faith and fair
dealing; the insurer (presumably, Zurich) failed to
adequately supervise the action of the agents; the agents
breached their duties to the insured; the agent's breach
is imputed to the insurance company; and Zurich breached its
duty to carefully and thoroughly investigate the claim.
(See Mot. to Exclude Ex. 110-12, ECF No. 81-1).
These opinions are conclusions regarding the legal
implications of the insurance companies' conduct.
Accordingly, the opinions are inadmissible. See Found.
Health Servs., Inc. v. Zurich Am. Ins. Co., No. CV
15-59-JJB-EWD, 2016 WL 1449678, at *2 (M.D. La. Apr. 13,
2016) (citation omitted) (compliance with the obligations of
good faith are inadmissible legal conclusions); Willis v.
Allstate Ins. Co., No. 2:13-CV-60-KS-MTP, 2014 WL
4804396, at *2 (S.D.Miss. Sept. 26, 2014) (opinions regarding
reasonableness of insurer's claim investigation and
legitimacy of reason to deny claim are inadmissible legal
conclusions). For this reason, the insurance companies'
Motion is denied to the extent of Hager's opinions as to
the customs, practices, or standards of the insurance
industry noted above, and granted in all other respects.
IS THEREFORE ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that the 
Motion to Exclude William D. Hager as an Expert Witness,
filed by Southwest Business Corporation, d/b/a Insurance
Partners and USAA Insurance Agency, Inc., and joined by
American Zurich Insurance Company  is GRANTED IN
PART AND DENIED IN PART as set out above.