An Orlando judge has ordered that expert witnesses provided on both sides in the case of Allstate* vs. Auto Glass America and its owner Charles Isaly (AGA) will be permitted to testify in the case.
The August 19 order follows motions by AGA to strike or limit opinion by Keith A. Beveridge, MBA, an expert witness provided by Allstate. AGA also filed a motion requesting that testimony by Dr. James Langenfield be precluded from the case.
Allstate responded by filing a motion to exclude testimony from AGA’s witness G. Hartley Mellish.
Allstate is suing AGA for allegedly pressuring “Allstate’s insured customers into hiring AGA for windshield repairs and replacements,” according to court documents. The conflict is about the incidence of windshield repairs vs. replacements and payments for the replacements.
While opinion testimony is admissible in court, federal rule allows a “witness who is qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education’ to provide opinion testimony in limited circumstances.”
Allstate retained Beveridge to provide testimony as an expert on the windshield industry, according to court documents. AGA sought to exclude a portion of his testimony because his opinions are “outside the scope of permissible expert opinions,” are irrelevant and “exceed the qualifications of the expertise of the expert.”
AGA maintains that Beveridge’s opinions on types of auto glass and his conclusions are based upon opinion and are not fact based upon evidence. “Specifically, AGA argues that Beveridge ‘fails to provide any support for the claimed equivalency that the windshield industry considers OEM glass … to be the same as dealer glass, instead of dealer-quality glass.’” AGA cites two online articles that provide definition of the categories of auto glass differently than how Beveridge categorized auto glass.
The Court ruled that AGA’s arguments fail for two reasons. It said Beveridge’s opinions on glass type “are based on his extensive knowledge and experience in the industry,” not on literature review. Beveridge has worked in the industry for more than 30 years. Also, AGA’s argument “goes to the weight not admissibility of Beveridge’s opinions.” AGA will have an opportunity during court proceedings to raise arguments with the witness through cross-examination and presentation of evidence that is contrary to Beveridge’s opinion. “Therefore, Beveridge’s opinions regarding auto glass types will not be excluded,” the court order states.
AGA also argues that Beveridge’s opinion on windshield repair versus replacement should be excluded because it is subjective and not based on documentation. AGA’s refusal to repair windshields, only replace windshields, according to court documents, is a business practice.
“Beveridge’s resume shows that he has an extensive background in the auto glass industry,” documents state, including when he ‘primarily repaired windshields’ as an employee of NOVUS.
As the court order states, if AGA believes Beveridge’s calculations of the company’s repairs versus replacements are in error, then AGA can address the issue during cross examination.
Beveridge’s opinions include opinions about pricing and conclude that “the amount that AGA has been charging Allstate … is unreasonable and excessive, and significantly exceeds the competitive prices in the industry.”
AGA argues this opinion should be excluded because specific data is not in Beveridge’s report, and his conclusions when it comes to applying NAGS “relies totally on the experience and knowledge of Beveridge.” The court order says that Beveridge’s resume reveals that his experience “makes him qualified to testify as to issues within the windshield industry,” and his opinions on pricing are based on his knowledge of NAGS pricing, the standard “accepted by the auto glass manufacturers, the auto glass shops and automotive casualty insurance companies.”
Beveridge’s conclusions come from comparing NAGS pricing and AGA’s pricing in relation to AGA claims made to Allstate for windshield replacements. “This is sufficient data to support his conclusions. Beveridge’s pricing opinions will not be excluded,” court documents state.
Allstate participants in the suit include Allstate Insurance Company, Allstate Fire and Casualty Insurance Company, Allstate Indemnity Company and Allstate Property and Casualty Insurance Company.
*Allstate means Allstate Insurance Company, Allstate Fire and Casualty Insurance Company, and Allstate Property and Casualty (Allstate)