Was an Expert’s Testimony Admissible in a Subrogation Action?

In an insurance subrogation matter, Plaintiff Insurance Company appealed from an order barring its expert’s reports and testimony and granting summary judgment to Defendant.  

Defendant was a fuel oil company that provided fuel for the oil-fired furnace located in a home and also serviced the furnace in that home for many years. Defendant’s service technician serviced the furnace after the homeowner said he had no heat. 

About a month later, a fire occurred at the homeowner‘s home, which originated inside the furnace. The homeowner submitted a property damage claim to Plaintiff, which it paid. Plaintiff subsequently filed a complaint for subrogation against Defendant to recover the payout to the homeowner. 

Without leave of court, Plaintiff amended its answers to interrogatories to include a supplemental expert report from a furnace expert that gave an entirely new opinion as to the cause of the fire. Defendant filed a motion to bar the furnace expert‘s report and testimony and for summary judgment dismissing the complaint for Plaintiff’s lack of expert evidence establishing Defendant’s liability. Defendant argued that the furnace expert‘s supplemental report  was untimely and in violation of the court’s orders, and that the expert rendered net opinions that failed to articulate the cause of the fire. 

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