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Expert Testimony Necessary On Standard Of Care? Maybe Sometimes, But Not Always.

January 4, 2017

Authors

Luke Lantta

Expert Testimony Necessary On Standard Of Care? Maybe Sometimes, But Not Always.

January 4, 2017

by: Luke Lantta

Whether a plaintiff needs an expert witness in a breach of fiduciary duty case to testify on the standard of care is a frequently debated topic.  In Heisinger v. Cleary, the Supreme Court of Connecticut weighed in on one side of that debate when it determined that no expert testimony was appropriate on the standard of care applicable to executors who seek professional advice to value the assets of an estate for preparation of estate tax returns.

A plaintiff brought claims that the executors of an estate breached their fiduciary duties to him, the decedent’s sole heir and the only beneficiary of a trust established under the decedent’s will, by, among other things, failing to supervise the work of others.  More specifically, the plaintiff claimed that the appraisers hired by the

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The Use Of Expert Witnesses In Breach Of Fiduciary Duty Cases

January 24, 2013

Authors

Luke Lantta

The Use Of Expert Witnesses In Breach Of Fiduciary Duty Cases

January 24, 2013

by: Luke Lantta

The role of experts in breach of fiduciary duty cases is an emerging and unsettled area of law.  Of course there will always be questions about whether an expert is qualified to offer an opinion.  But there are additional quirks when a state codifies the standard of care required of a trustee thereby creating a statutory standard of care.  Does a plaintiff need expert testimony establishing that the trustee breached the statutory standard of care?  Perhaps.  But does that testimony necessarily result in an expert impermissibly testifying on the ultimate issue of liability?  Again, perhaps.

It’s questions like these that cause us to pay close attention when one of the rare ‘expert opinion’ decisions gets issued in a breach of fiduciary duty case.  Just this week in Sierra v. Williamson (2013 WL 228333), the United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky gave us

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