United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Southern Division
STARRETT, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
reasons provided below, the Court grants in part and
denies in part Plaintiff's Motion to Exclude
 the testimony of Defendant's expert, Van Hedges;
Defendant's Motion to Strike  the testimony of
Plaintiff's expert, James Simpson; and Defendant's
Motion to Strike  the testimony of Plaintiff's
expert, Michael Manes. The Court also denies
Plaintiff's Motion to Strike  the affidavit of Van
Hedges as moot.
Court and the Court of Appeals have explained the background
of this case. See Mears v. Jones, 2017 WL 8786925,
at *1 (S.D.Miss. Nov. 30, 2017); Mears v. Jones, 756
Fed.Appx. 404, 406-08 (5th Cir. 2018). One claim remains:
Plaintiff's negligence claim against Defendant Lance
Jones. Plaintiff alleges that Jones was negligent in
procuring insurance for him, and in advising him as to what
insurance was available. Both parties designated experts to
provide opinion testimony regarding insurance industry
standards and whether Defendant's actions complied with
those standards, and both parties seek the exclusion of the
other party's experts.
ability of a district court to evaluate expert testimony
sua sponte and exclude such testimony where
appropriate has been recognized by several courts.”
Brenord v. Catholic Med. Ctr., 133 F.Supp.2d 179,
188 n. 4 (E.D.N.Y. 2001) (citing Kirstein v. Parks
Corp., 159 F.3d 1065, 1076 (7th Cir. 1998)); see
also Miller v. Baker Implement Co., 439 F.3d 407, 413
(8th Cir. 2006); Accident Ins. Co. v. Classic Bldg.
Design, LLC, 2012 WL 3913090, at *14 (S.D.Miss. Sept. 7,
2012). Therefore, the Court must address a problem with all
three experts' testimony that was not adequately
addressed by the parties' motions.
testimony must be relevant, not simply in the sense that all
testimony must be relevant, but also in the sense that the
expert's proposed opinion would assist the trier of fact
to understand or determine a fact in issue.”
Bocanegra v. Vicmar Servs., Inc., 320 F.3d 581, 584
(5th Cir. 2003); see also Fed. R. Evid, 702(a).
Therefore, “an expert may never render conclusions of
law, ” Goodman v. Harris County, 571 F.3d 388,
399 (5th Cir. 2009), or opinions on legal issues. Estate
of Sowell v. United States, 198 F.3d 169, 171-72 (5th
Cir. 1999). Likewise, it is the Court's job - not an
expert witness's - to instruct the jury as to the
applicable law. See, e.g. Brown v. Nat'l R.R.
Passenger Corp., 2011 WL 1130545, at *7 (S.D.Miss. Mar.
28, 2011); Marlow v. BellSouth Telecomms., Inc.,
2013 WL 1752384, at *6 (S.D.Miss. Apr. 23, 2013); BNY
Mellon, N.A. v. Affordable Holdings, Inc., 2011 WL
2746301, at *1 (N.D. Miss. July 12, 2011). Moreover, although
“[a]n opinion is not objectionable just because it
embraces an ultimate issue” in the case, Fed.R.Evid.
704(a), an expert witness is not permitted to “tell the
jury what result to reach . . . .” Matthews v.
Ashland Chem., Inc., 770 F.2d 1303, 1311 (5th
summary, the jury's job is to determine the facts, and to
apply the law that the Court provides them to those facts.
The purpose of expert testimony is to assist the jury in
determining facts. Therefore, the Court sua sponte
provides the following general limitation on all the
experts' testimony: no expert may provide legal opinions
or instruct the jury as to the applicable law, and no expert
may directly tell the jury what result to reach in this case.
Although parties are free to offer expert testimony as to the
customs or standards in an industry or profession,
Spartan Grain & Mill Co. v. Ayers, 517 F.2d 214,
219 (5th Cir. 1975), no expert will be permitted to provide
legal opinions or instructions of law masquerading as
testimony about insurance industry practices or customs.
Court understands that this can be a difficult line to walk.
However, some opinions are unquestionably outside the scope
of permissible expert testimony. For example, an expert
witness may not instruct the jury as to the duties
Mississippi law imposes on the parties. Likewise, an expert
witness may not express an opinion as to whether particular
actions or omissions constituted negligence. An expert may,
however, explain how insurance markets work. An expert may
also explain industry standards and express an opinion as to
whether particular actions or inactions complied with those
Court declines to sift through the experts' reports
line-by-line and separate the admissible opinions from the
inadmissible ones. But it appears to the Court that the
primary purpose of all three experts - Hedges, Manes, and
Simpson - is to simply tell the jury that Defendant was or
was not negligent and provide ostensible reasons in support
of that opinion, often couched in terms of Mississippi law.
The Court will not permit that. If the parties need further
clarification on this issue, they are free to raise the issue
at trial, but the Court suspects that the attorneys of record
know where the line is and can adequately prepare their
being said, both parties asserted multiple arguments as to
why the other party's expert(s) should be barred from
testifying at trial. However, the Court's ruling here
obviates the need to address most of those arguments because
much of what each party finds objectionable about the
opposing expert(s) is inadmissible anyway, for the reasons
the Court grants in part and denies in part
Plaintiff's Motion to Exclude  the testimony of
Defendant's expert, Van Hedges; Defendant's Motion to
Strike  the testimony of Plaintiff's expert, James
Simpson; and Defendant's Motion to Strike  the
testimony of Plaintiff's expert, Michael Manes. The Court
grants all three motions as provided above: no expert may
provide legal opinions or instruct the jury as to the
applicable law, and no expert may directly tell the jury what
result to reach in this case. The Court presently denies the
motions in all other respects.
there are any other issues that needs to be addressed - such
as qualification to provide expert testimony regarding
insurance industry standards, for example - the parties are
free to raise them at trial outside the presence of the jury.
The experts' reports are full of so many inadmissible
legal opinions and instructions, it would be an inefficient
use of the Court's time to separate the good from the bad
and then determine whether the parties' other arguments
have any bearing on what's left. The ...